The Trap of Memories


So the other day I had a memory from last summer come up on FB.  It was a really good memory involving one of my children.  I remember the moment so clearly because so many people had made comments to me about how it was the happiest they had seen my child.  This same child right now is no where near that place.  This summer has been filled with a lot of hurt, pain, sorrow, anger, and frustration that has filtered to the entire household.  When I saw that picture, I immediately began to be filled with sorrow.  All I could think about was how good things were then and how bad things were now.    Thanks FB!

However,  as I was driving to work the next morning and thinking through something I had read in my devotions, it really struck me as to how much this is just like what the Israelites did in the desert.  Every time things got tough, they complained about wanting to go back to Egypt.  We see it time and time again.

We see it when they reached the Red Sea.  They had just watched as God delivered them from the hands of Pharaoh, punished Egypt with plague after plague and brought them out with wealth the Egyptians actually gave them!  However, as soon as they were trapped and Pharaoh was chasing them, the complained to Moses.

” As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”  Exodus 14:10-12

Did they really think that remaining in slavery as they had for the past 400 years was better than trusting God?

We see it again in chapter 16,

In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.  The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” Exodus 16:2-3

Did they really think that God brought them through all this to let them starve in the desert?

We see it right up to the time they finally arrive at the Promise Land,

That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness!  Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder.Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”  Numbers 14:1-4

Did they really want to go back after all these years and return to being slaves?

As I thought through all of this, I said to myself, are things really better than last summer, or am I just afraid and like the Israelites, looking at what I see in the natural rather than trusting God’s plan?

The truth is, if I am honest, last summer was a very difficult summer and this particular day, although it had its good moments, was a rough day.  Memories, like the ones that pop up on FB have a way of making us forget everything except that 1 moment in time.  So often in our lives we look back on things with a skewed memory of how things actually were at the time.  Our minds focus only on the good things of then and the bad things of now.

If we are honest, each year has it’s own troubles.  Our lives are made up of many different moments and yes, there are times that are better than others.  But, it all boils down to the same thing….do we or do we not trust God and His plan for our lives?  God never promises us that we won’t have trouble, He does promise us that we will not walk through it alone. (Deut 31:6)

God is sovereign over our lives, He walks through every season with us and nothing is out of His control.  All of this reminded me that I need to fix my eyes on Him and not on what I see.  Memories taken out of context can trip us up and lead us into grumbling and complaining.  We have the privilege of being able to look back on the stories of the Bible and see God’s faithfulness.  As we read how he brought the Israelites through so much, we often say to ourselves, “what are they complaining about, why don’t they just trust God?”  But the truth is, we do the exact same thing all the time atleast I know I do!  What we need to do each moment of every day is recount the goodness of God to ourselves.  We need to remind ourselves of all that He has done for us.  We need to tell ourselves His promises over and over so that when times of doubt and fear come, we can redirect our thoughts quickly to the TRUTH.  This will help us not be caught in the trap of a single memory.

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