Thursday, November 24, 2005

Remembering—the Essence of Thanksgiving

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
And forget not all His benefits.
(Psalm 103:2)
Giving thanks is about remembering. One of the problems for the children of Israel in the wilderness is that, though God brought them ought of Egypt by His mighty hand — “He brought them out with silver and gold, and there was none feeble among His tribes” (Psalm 105:37) — they forgot. That is why an eleven day journey through the wilderness turned into forty years! Psalm 106 recounts the story of their forgetfulness and all the terrible things it brought them into:
Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders.
They did not remember the multitude of Your mercies,
But rebelled by the sea — the Red Sea.
(Psalm 106:7)

They soon forgot His works;
They did not wait for His counsel.
But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness,
And tested God in the desert.
And He gave them their request,
But sent leanness into their soul.
(Psalm 106:13-15)

They forgot God their Savior,
Who had done great things in Egypt,
Wondrous works in the land of Ham,
Awesome things by the Red Sea.
(Psalm 106:21-22)

Then they despised the pleasant land;
They did not believe His Word,
But complained in their tents,
And did not heed the voice of LORD.
(Psalm 106:24-25)

The joined themselves also to Baal of Peor,
And ate sacrifices made to the dead.
Thus they provoked Him to anger with their deeds,
And the plague broke out among them.
(Psalm 106:28-29)

They mingled with the Gentiles
And learned their works;
They served their idols,
Which became a snare to them.
They even sacrificed their sons
And their daughters to demons.
And shed innocent blood,
The blood of their sons and daughters,
Whom the sacrificed to the idols of Canaan;
And the land was polluted with blood.
Thus they were defiled by their own works,
And played the harlot by their own deeds.
(Psalm 106:35-39)
Forgetfulness is a lack of faith. When we forget, be become disconnected from the all the blessing God has for us. But it is not God who disconnects us. We do that to ourselves by failing to remember and trust in His goodness.

Even in the midst of our forgetfulness, notice the extent of God’s goodness:
Nevertheless He regarded their affliction,
When He heard their cry;
And for their sake He remembered His covenant,
And relented according to the multitude of His mercies.
He also made them to be pitied
By all those who carried them away captive.
(Psalm 106:44-46)
We may forget, but God still remembers and reveals His mercy, even in the bad situation our forgetfulness has brought us.

How much more, then, will we enjoy the blessing and benefits of God when we remember to acknowledge and trust in His goodness — in a word, to be thankful! David offers the short list of those benefits:
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns [surrounds] you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth [desires] with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
(Psalm 103:2-5)
Thanksgiving is about remembering. God has provided so many wonderful blessings and benefits for you and me, let us not forget a single one of them, but lay hold of them all by faith and thanksgiving, trusting completely in the goodness of God.

(See also Six Things the Devil Wants You to Forget, But God Wants You to Remember)