Remembering His Mercies
It’s become a bit of a tradition for me to take a couple of hours during the month of December and sit down with a warm drink, my Bible, calendar, and journal to reflect on the past year and refocus in preparation for the year ahead. I’ve come to look forward to this as one of my favorite things about the week between Christmas and New Year!
This time of reflection is a rich couple of hours remembering and rejoicing in what God has done over the past year and seeking His guidance for the year ahead. Here are three reasons for you to consider taking your own time to reflect and refocus this December.
As I think about the past year, there are memories of immense joy along with incredible sorrow. But we have a tendency to take the good things for granted and dwell only on the hard and painful parts of our lives, missing the faithfulness of God through both seasons.
The Israelites were also guilty of forgetting God’s goodness. Only two months after the Lord performed miracles to free them from slavery in Egypt, they began complaining. “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Exodus 16:3 NKJV)
Instead of remembering the miracles God had done and trusting that He would continue to take care of them, they focused on their suffering and questioned God’s wisdom.
The Psalmist said, “Our fathers in Egypt […] did not remember the multitude of Your mercies, but rebelled.” (Psalm 106:7 NKJV, emphasis mine)
That is why the Bible tells us over and over again to remember what God has done. “I will remember the works of the LORD; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, And talk of Your deeds.” (Psalm 77:11-12 NKJV)
When we remember what God has done for us, we refocus our perspective. Our suffering and sadness don’t disappear. But when we remember the work of the Lord and His goodness amidst our trials, we find hope in our suffering.
What has God done for you in the past? How did He save, guide, protect, and love you?
In the gospel of Luke, there is an account of ten men who had leprosy and came to Jesus asking for healing. Jesus healed all of them! But when they saw they were healed, only one man returned to praise Jesus and glorify God.
“So Jesus answered and said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?’” (Luke 17:17-18 NKJV)
Which character do you relate to in this account? The nine who asked Jesus for something, received it, and went on their way excited and happy? Or the man who asked Jesus for something, received it, and returned to Him to praise and glorify God?
I’m also guilty of receiving the goodness of God and forgetting to praise Him. One blessing about intentionally remembering God’s goodness over the past year is the opportunity it gives us to rejoice in His wondrous works and praise His glorious name.
May our remembering lead to rejoicing!
Several years ago, I was in Israel during the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. I expected people to be out late celebrating as we do in North America. But to my surprise, Jerusalem was unusually quiet.
Later I learned that it is Jewish tradition to spend New Year’s Eve in reflection and repentance. People will go to their neighbours and friends and seek forgiveness and reconciliation where needed. They don’t want to take their sin with them into the new year. They want to start fresh. So instead of partying, they repent.
What if we used the end of one year and the beginning of the next as an opportunity to ask God to search our hearts and try us to see if there is any sin in our lives (Ps. 139:23-24)? Because of the gospel, we don’t need to carry that sin and guilt into a new year. We can lay it at the foot of the cross any time of the year and receive complete forgiveness and cleansing of our sins.
Would you join me and set aside some time during your Christmas break to prayerfully remember the work the Lord has in your life, rejoice in His faithfulness, and repent of sin?
Katie Gutierrez loves an urban cafe as much as the smell of campfire and pine. Works in communications while studying business and non-fiction writing and is most happy when leading worship and discipling others.