We can be pretty forgetful people at times. A few months ago, I drove off with the gas pump still placed in my car. Just this week, I forgot someone’s name sitting next to me in class who I started at Truett with. We can be forgetful about pretty much anything and sometimes we are forgetful about what the past really was.
When I was in high school, I broke up with a boyfriend because he wasn’t really a good decision for me just for me to show up at his work two days later begging for him to take me back just because I was emotional. We can be forgetful about what the past really was and Israel at the time of the Exodus was no different.
The Israelites got out of Egypt but despaired when they saw the Egyptians still chasing them. In a bleak moment they forgot what they had just been celebrating a few days prior. God was good and God was faithful to the Israelites, but instead of clinging to this truth and hope, they forgot. Just like we too forget.
Despite our forgetfulness God remains faithful.
(Read Exodus 14:1-12)
The Israelites were afraid. Right after they escaped slavery, right after they felt hope on this earth for the first time in years, that same hope seemed to disappear in an instant once the Egyptian army appeared on the horizon. In their despair, they make sarcastic comments about the graves in Egypt and said that they told Moses this would happen. They even said that “It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness.”
But God had just delivered them from Egypt. So when they cry out, doubting God and forgetting what he had just done for them, it’s easy to ask the question: Have they really learned anything from the past?
But God does not end this story with longings for what has passed. God shares his plan of rescue to Moses and appears in the form of a cloud to protect his people. And in our 21st century minds, at least in mine, it’s difficult to picture what this cloud appeared as. There’s even ambiguities between different translations of Scripture about how the process actually worked. Yet one thing remains clear. Because of this pillar of clouds, because God showed up, the Egyptians never got near the Israelites. Despite their forgetfulness, God remained faithful.
A couple from my church could not have biological children, so they set their minds toward adoption and six years ago, adopted three siblings into their family. And while I can only imagine the time it took to transition into the family that they are today, they have grown to love each other deeply as parents, children, and siblings. The youngest of their children is an eight-year-old son with a firecracker personality who always keeps me on my toes. One day, I was talking to his mother, and she told me that she just left a really hard conversation with him. She was just trying to get him to do homework and he did not want to. Out of frustration he yelled at her saying “You can’t tell me what to do because you are not my real mom and I wish you never were my mom.”
These children did not come from a good situation at home before they were adopted. Yet when faced with difficulty, the son didn’t want to have anything to do with his mother. Yet she continued to show up for him, provide for him, love him, and care for him, even while he wished that he wasn’t her son. Despite the son’s forgetfulness, his mother remained faithful.
God loved Israel so much and God loves us so much that he calls us his children as 1 John 3:1 declares. This faithfulness of God is far greater than any faithfulness of a human parent to their child. This faithfulness of God is far greater than anything that we imagine for ourselves.
We asked if the Israelites have learned anything from the past, but have we? Have we learned to trust in God’s love and care so that even in the bleakest of moments we can be at peace? God’s faithfulness will never waver even though ours will.
So what do we do about it? We make it a regular habit to remember. Whether it’s daily, weekly, or monthly, set out time in your day and remember what God has done throughout history and in your own life. And thank God and worship him. Because the more we practice remembrance the less prone that we are to forgetfulness.
Despite me driving off with the gas pump and forgetting my classmates name, God is still faithful. Despite getting back together with my high school ex, God is still faithful. Despite us obsessing over papers and assignments and never ending to do lists, God is still faithful. Despite us worrying about what in the world we will actually do after we graduate, God is still faithful. Despite us sinning God is still faithful. And despite my forgetting everything that he’s done, despite my forgetfulness, despite our forgetfulness, God is still faithful.
Abby Stuckle serves as the Connections Pastor at Coryell Community Church (Gatesville, TX).