This year, Don and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul boasted about his trials.
Last Saturday we celebrated the 244th anniversary of our Nation’s birth.
What do these events have in common? On these events, we remember.
Don and I Remember
Don and I married at an older age – in our 40’s – and lugged a lot of the proverbial baggage into our marriage. We found ourselves struggling on and off with spontaneous hurtful behavior that threatened to unravel our marriage. Amid the good times were spurts of name calling, angry yelling, controlling behavior, manipulation, selfishness that we felt powerless to stop.
In year 9 we had a crisis and sought counselling. We began to heal and rebuild. We still have our moments, but with each year those moments are less frequent and less intense.
We remember the tough times and how God brought us through so we don’t forget where we came from and how we got here. In a word, God! Our marriage is not and never will be perfect, but we’re closer than we’ve ever been because we acknowledged our need for Jesus every step of the way. God was and continues to be faithful.
In 2 Corinthians 11 – and in several other places in the New Testament – Paul shares a summary of the trials he endured as a disciple of Christ. He remembers in his letters about being beaten, shipwrecked, going without food, and imprisoned. He shares openly about his former life of persecuting Jesus followers, and about how he became “one of them.”
Why? Not to one-up anyone or to bring glory to his own sin, but to show that God’s strength, provision, and grace are bigger than anything we can face or anything we’ve been through. When we are weak, He is strong. Paul didn’t quit following Jesus when times were rough; he pressed in with faith that Jesus would either get him through for God’s purpose, or he’d be in heaven. Paul knew with certainty that God called him as a disciple and sent him to proclaim the gospel. He acknowledged his need for Jesus every step of the way. God was faithful.
Our Nation Remembers
On July 4, 1776, after more than a year of war with England, 13 colonies claimed their independence from England. This event eventually led to the formation of the United States, the country I proudly call home.
From the Declaration of Independence, this is where we started:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
We acknowledged our Creator God. We acknowledged that all men are created equal. We acknowledged the value of life and freedom. We celebrate our freedom on July 4th every year. And we remember.
I’m not a historian, but I’ve read enough to know that our initial and continued freedom is not without cost. Battles have been fought and won over women’s rights, civil rights, inequality of race, oppression of other countries, and oppression of slaves in our own country. Men and women gave their lives (and still do) so we can enjoy freedom to worship God, have and express an opinion, live and work where we choose, and enjoy the pursuit of happiness.
People, we are still that same country: one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all!
Let Us Turn Back to God
When our nation acknowledges with certainty that God, our Creator, formed us to be a united people, free to enjoy Him, each other, and this country, we will turn back to God to heal our hearts and our land. We don’t need to forget or try to erase our past – it happened, can’t be changed. Instead we can remember our history as a testimony of God’s grace and goodness, and in the near future give Him thanks for bringing us through yet another trying time in history. We can live with hope for the future even as we remember the past. Our God was and always will be faithful.
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.