As the New Year dawns, we pause to remember the year that is rapidly slipping into the recesses of our memory. Looking back is important. Remembering helps us put in perspective the things that are to come.
We are slowly recovering from the latest economic collapse as we face the future. We saw improvement in 2010 and financial experts predict an improving economy in 2011. But millions are still struggling. Many recent college graduates have taken low paying jobs while they juggle student loans and search for employment in their career fields. The unemployment rate remains above 9% with more than 14 million people out of work. Retirees watched their annuity investments plunge in 2008 and face the future with increased insecurity.
Looking back long term helps us handle these immediate challenges. It helps us avoid arrogance and pride, despondency and despair. Some of us have a lot to remember. We lived through the war in Vietnam, the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., the cold war and the space race, the first oil embargo with gas lines that stretched around the block, Watergate and Richard Nixon’s resignation, runaway inflation and the recession of the 80’s, the first PCs, cell phones, internet, Desert Storm, the dot com bust, 9-11, the Iraq war, Afghanistan and the Great Recession of 2008. We have learned that things will get better. We have learned that God is faithful in every crisis and every difficulty. We know from experience that his promise is sure: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11).
When times get tough, it is easy to forget. We need to be reminded about God’s faithfulness. This is why the Bible teaches us to remember. The Passover was established to help Israel remember how God delivered them from slavery. We celebrate Christmas to remember God’s gift of his only-begotten Son, a light shining in the darkness. Jesus gave us the Lord’s Supper to help us remember his death, burial and resurrection.
Just as important, the Bible tells us that God remembers us. When we feel forgotten and alone, thinking that no one cares, God remembers. Every rainbow reminds us that God remembered us when the greatest calamity in history struck the earth, a flood so great that it almost wiped all human life from the earth. (Genesis 8,9). God never forgets. “He remembers His covenant forever, the promise He made, for a thousand generations.” (1 Chron. 16:15). Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”