Today’s message is from Pastor Pam Sutherland of the St. Paul United Methodist Church & Fort Gibson United Methodist Church
ANYONE who has a few years in the rearview mirror knows the struggle with memory is real. Where did I leave my keys? Why can’t I find the remote? Why do I keep hiding things from myself? Those are real questions I ask nearly every day. Case in point, my husband just walked in the room and asked, “What was it you asked me to do today?” I honestly don’t remember! I guess I’ll spend the rest of today wondering what it was. Yesterday I found myself singing a Christmas song that I learned in Kindergarten, in French by the way, but I can’t remember what I said last night! The struggle is, indeed, real.
Memory is a funny thing. Family members remember events differently depending on their perspectives. Some people have sharp, clear memories going back to childhood and others have vague recollections. Some remember and focus on the bad things that happened, others block those kinds of memories as a way of protecting their emotions. Other memories are exaggerated – like how I remember going to the beach for a whole week every summer of my childhood. Turns out it was just a long weekend. It’s still a good memory though. My kids will often share memories of events that happened during childhood that are vastly different from their siblings.
There are things about 2021 that I hope I remember for a long, long time. But there are also things I would like to forget. For many reasons this year has had its share of trials and tribulations – things we would like to forget. While we hoped this year would see an end to the pandemic and a return to “normal” that has not happened. The other day I was looking at some old sermons I have on my laptop and came across one from January, 2018 where I acknowledged how difficult the previous year had been and I thought to myself, “What was so difficult about 2017?” I could not remember one thing that happened. I’m sure there must have been struggles and losses, as is true about every year, but what had prompted me to specifically label that year as bad? My next thought was, “Whatever it was, it can’t hold a candle to the last twenty-two months!”
A few years from now what will your memories of 2021 be? For some, it will mark the loss of a significant person, perhaps well before their time. For others, this year may mark their battle with COVID, cancer, or perhaps mental illness, or addiction. For others it may be financial difficulties that set this year apart. There will be things we will never forget. But what about the good times? Will we remember some of those as well? Because, unless you’re just a Scrooge, there were times when you smiled and laughed. There were times when you were amazed and overcome with awe at God’s goodness. Will you remember those times? Will you be able to acknowledge the ways in which God was working to transform you through the trials? Will you remember the lessons the Holy Spirit was teaching as you struggled to make sense of your circumstances? Will you remember how you grew closer to God when you cried out to Him for help?
I’m thankful that in God’s economy nothing is wasted. In all of our struggles, trials, and tribulations, God has been at work to accomplish His will, His good and perfect will. It may be hard to see right now, but there is purpose in both the good and the bad. My hope for us all is that God will enable us to focus on and remember what was good about 2021 and that when the difficult, painful memories come to mind, He will assure us that He is right there with us to give us the hope, the peace, and the joy we need to face whatever the future holds.
Grace and peace,