Every year, social media are awash with admonitions to remember what it is we’re actually memorializing on Memorial Day. It’s not about sleeping in or having a picnic or a barbecue. Rather, it’s a day for solemn reflection on the human cost of freedom and the many lives lost in its pursuit. And it is indeed sobering to consider the numbers: the US is relatively young as a nation, but hundreds of thousands – into the millions – have died in the service of our nation’s military. Certainly it is worth a moment or two of our time to remember.
It bears pointing out that this idea of honoring the fallen is not unique to the US – Ireland has scores of monuments and memorials to the heroes of the cause of liberty. My question for us is, why? Why do we dedicate time and resources to remembering? I’d argue the answer is simple: if we don’t take time to remember, we’re bound to forget. Human beings are inherently short-sighted, both to look ahead and to look back. So we must be intentional with our recall, lest important events be blown away by the winds of obscurity.
We can even see this phenomenon in the Bible! How many times did peoples in Scripture wander away from God, simply because they didn’t take the proper time to recall His saving power? It is no accident that David wrote in Psalm 103:2,
“Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits” – NASB, emphasis added.
It’s why we celebrate communion, as described in 1 Corinthians 11:24,
“…do this in remembrance…” – NASB, emphasis added
Solomon had it right in Ecclesiastes 1:11,
“There is no remembrance of earlier things;
And also of the later things which will occur,
There will be for them no remembrance
Among those who will come later still.” – NASB
So what can we do to remember? Well, spending time in God’s Word is helpful. Spending time in prayer also helps. But I would like to point out the idea of an ebenezer today. This comes from 1 Samuel 7:12, quoted here from the NASB:
Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”
The word ebenezer literally means “stone of help”. This was a physical reminder for all the people to point to a specific time and place where God’s help was obvious to everyone. The stone itself was nothing more than a rock, but it served its purpose to call to mind.
So what can you use in your life to recall God’s faithfulness? Something that, while powerless in itself, can draw our attention and focus to what God has done for us? Even if it’s not a literal, physical object, building a habit of remembrance can be very helpful.
Think about it! If we don’t take time to remember, we’re bound to forget.