When things get tough, it's important to remember what God has done for us

Published 09 April 2020  |  
Unsplash/Aaron Burden

As a former history teacher, I was surprised to discover that the Old Testament has no word for history. The penny dropped when I learned that Judaism didn't focus on 'history' so much as 'memory'. That is helpful.

As the former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks has pointed out, "There is a profound difference between history and memory. History is his story – an event that happened sometime else to someone else. Memory is my story – something that happened to me and is part of who I am....Memory is the past as present, as it lives on in me."

That's why the Old Testament keeps challenging God's people to 'remember' what He did for them in their past. Such memories not only offer us hope for the future, they also encourage us to 'hang on in there' when the going gets tough.

So, let's remind ourselves once more. Psalm 46 stands out here, with its challenge to "Be still and know that I am God". We can't be sure when it was written but it clearly reflects a time when God helped His people in an amazing way.

Most scholars seem to think it was on the occasion in approximately 701 BC when Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, was determined to bring the Kingdom of Judah under his control. And so, he besieged Jerusalem but to everyone's amazement he failed to capture it.

Indeed, it seems that this was the only city mentioned as being besieged on Sennacherib's record of which the capture is not mentioned! Those interested can read all about it in Second Book of Kings in the Old Testament.

As I've said on more than one occasion, I am sure Winston Churchhill would have had no problem identifying with the Psalmist's encouragement to take time to reflect on what God can do. Addressing a large group of mineworkers in October 1942, the "British Bulldog" said: "I sometimes have a feeling of interference. I want to stress that. I have a feeling that some Guiding Hand has interfered."

We are living in stressful times. Only time will tell how we will finally vanquish this monstrous virus. But triumph we will. I have great faith in our scientific abilities, just as I have a huge amount of respect, not to say appreciation, for those continuing to work for, and to serve us at this very demanding time.

We are rediscovering the importance of community too, and this is going to prove invaluable in the days ahead. Above all, though, I am convinced God will answer the prayers of His people.

Holy Week is an annual reminder that God loves us in a way our tiny minds can hardly imagine.

The death of Jesus assures us of that, just as Easter Sunday encourages us to believe that our God can do the seemingly impossible. For Him the 'supernatural' is 'simply natural', which is why it really would make sense to take the Queen's advice and spend a bit of time in quiet reflection over this Easter weekend.

And if you're looking for a Bible verse or two to meditate on, you could do no better than choose these: "But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain." (1 Cor 15:57)

Rob James is a Baptist minister, writer and church and media consultant to the Evangelical Alliance Wales. He is the author of Little Thoughts About a Big God.

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