My daughter was unsure how to respond. “You mean, what do I know, like, what kinds of ice cream do we sell?”
“No, what did you know? We talked about this before and you told me what you knew.”
That didn’t help much, since my daughter didn’t recognize this woman or recall any significant conversation regarding ice cream. She asked several questions to discover what the woman wanted to know, but met with resistance. Finally, the woman made her purchases and stomped off in disgust.
When my daughter told us the story, we laughed and shook our heads. “What did you used to know about ice cream that you don’t know anymore? What secret information are you harboring from us?” It became our new private joke.
Later, however, the question haunted me. What did our children, families, and friends used to know about God that they no longer know? And why don’t they know it anymore?
Psalm forty-two is written by a believer: who felt far from God, disappointed with life, and his faith challenged. “My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’”
This is what he did about it: “These things I remember as I pour out my soul” (Psalm 42:3-4, emphasis mine).
Forgetfulness is nothing new. I can think of three reasons why we forget. First, we forget because we’re human. There’s so much information coming at us all the time that our brains can’t hang onto everything at once. That’s why we make lists, plant sticky notes everywhere, and write things on our hands. We want to remember what’s important.
Secondly, we forget because distance erases memory. The farther we move from God, the more we forget Him. When we don’t spend time with Him, we forget His character and His love. The less we listen, the less we recognize His voice. Then we fail to see Him at work in our lives and in our world.
Finally, we forget because we think if we “forget” we won’t be held accountable for our choices. The text note on Psalm 42 in the NIV Archeological Bible says: “Forgetting God in the Hebrew mind was a willful act of ‘unlearning,’ whereby rebellious humans rejected what they had known and sought to create a world in which God did not act or exist. Such people might cry, ‘Where is your God?’”
What’s the solution for spiritual forgetfulness? The psalmist did four things:
· he remembered how sweet it is to be with other believers
· he poured out his soul to God
· he chose to put his hope in Him
· he determined to praise God – “By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life.”
We can do these things personally. We can also prompt others who have forgotten. “What did you know about God? Here’s what I remember, and know, and strive to keep on knowing.” Hopefully, if we keep reminding them, they will remember too.