I was surprised when I first saw that my deepest struggles have become stepping-stones to my greatest revelations of God. As I reflected more, however, I saw that same theme woven through Scripture. Paul tells us that our “light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). In others words, our sufferings are stepping-stones to greater sights and experiences of God. He also says our present sufferings “are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). Since I’ve been astonished by what the Lord has revealed to me on earth through my suffering, I cannot imagine how glorious heaven’s revelations will be.
Alzheimers. If you know someone who has been diagnosed with it, you understand how awful the journey can be. My friend’s mother has been struggling with Alzheimers for years and doesn’t recognize her husband anymore, often fearing he is a robber. When that happens, her husband speaks tenderly to her. Then he holds her and dances with her, whirling her around as he once did, all the while whispering, Remember.
As he restates his love for her, she calms down. He reminds her of their life together. He reminds her of their happy memories. He reminds her of things long forgotten. And then, from deep within, she recognizes that she should not be afraid. She knows that she is safe.
Their dance brings to life a reality we all experience with God in crisis. Even when we believe God is faithful, all we can see is the dark unknown before us. I know because, even though the Lord met me in breathtaking ways after my son died and when I lost my marriage, I still panic when new trials come. I cry out to God with questions like, “Why aren’t you fixing this?” “Will you take care of me?” “Why do you feel so distant?” I wish I were more consistently faith-filled, unafraid, calmly trusting through every crisis.
How do we find hope in the middle of our stories? How do we keep going when life feels relentlessly hard? We hear God whisper again, through his word, Remember. We turn to God when we are in unfamiliar territory, afraid of the future, and we ask him to help us remember. To hold us and remind us that he has faithfully walked through our lives with us.
Has the Lord Forgotten?
I take comfort in seeing that the psalmists, who also had seen God’s faithfulness, often began their conversations with God with similar fears and questions. They asked,
“Has God forgotten to be gracious?” (Psalm 77:9)
“When will you comfort me?” (Psalm 119:82)
“How long must your servant endure?” (Psalm 119:84)
They knew who God was and who he promised to be for them. And yet when trouble came, they cried out to him with questions. They wondered why he hadn’t delivered them. They felt distant from him, wondering why he hadn’t drawn near to them or given them comforting assurances. They wondered if he would ever help them.
After crying out to God, though, we see the psalmists shift from questioning God to trusting him. What caused that shift? How did they go from scared to secure? We see that they engaged God, looking to him for direction, confident that he would listen and answer. What fueled that transformational confidence? Remembering.
Remembering kept and strengthened them through trials, and remembering has fueled me in my better moments. Remembering God’s promises and steadfast love. Remembering his faithfulness through the Bible. And remembering his faithfulness to me.
What Has God Promised You?
Even when everything around us is dark, remembering helps us trust that light will come. In Lamentations 3, Jeremiah felt utterly abandoned and hopeless. Yet he then declared, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:21–23). Jeremiah’s whole outlook changed when he remembered. He remembered God’s faithfulness. He remembered God’s covenant love. He remembered God’s mercies were new every morning.
Remembering the promises in Scripture can be a lifeline for sufferers. Like a canopy of stars, the promises of God shine brighter as the sky gets blacker. Memorizing Scriptures that encourage you can be a huge source of comfort and strength. A few of my favorites are John 14:27, Psalm 46:1–2, Isaiah 41:10, Psalm 23:4, and Romans 8:31–32.