Pastor's Wife, Mom, Writer & Imperfect Seeker of Jesus
September 27, 2015
Almost every time that I study a Biblical individual who I am preparing to write about or teach on, like a monkey I find something shiny and new that I had never noticed before. And then I begin to fixate on it, searching and digging even deeper into the story until sometimes, I find a precious gem.
One of those gems was discovered while studying the life of Hannah, the mother of Samuel the prophet. For many years before his birth, Hannah had been barren. And year after year she would watch her husband’s other wife conceive and give birth, while her own arms remained achingly empty.
In hurt and desperation she ran to the presence of God and prayed passionately for a son who she would give back to the Lord as His servant. In her prayer she cried out, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me.” (1 Samuel 1:11 NIV)
Remember me. Those words rang out like a song in my heart. So I started digging.
At the time of Hannah’s life, only one other person had specifically cried out to God to be remembered. That person was the mighty Samson. Shaved of his hair and so too his strength, beaten and torn down and with his eyes gouged out by the evil Philistines, he stood shackled to the pillars of the Philistine temple. Calling out to God, he said, “Lord God, please remember me. Strengthen me, God, just once more.” (Judges 16:28 HCSB) God answered with an infusion of power, and Samson pushed against those pillars, collapsing the temple and crushing the Philistines, killing more Philistines in his death than he had in his entire life.
Outside of God remembering Hannah (1 Samuel 1:19) and blessing her with a son, there are only five other times in the entire Bible where it specifically says that “God remembered.” The first occurred in Genesis 8 when Noah and his family were floating around on the ark after those 150 days with the rest of the world completely destroyed below them. The Bible says that God remembered Noah and caused the wind to dry up the water so that they could return to land and live anew. The next time is found in Genesis 19 when God remembered Abraham, and because of His love for Abraham, He saved his nephew Lot from the destruction of the evil cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The third instance is one that Hannah would have related to well. In Genesis 30 God remembered Jacob’s wife Rachel and opened her womb to conceive children. The fourth time is found in Exodus 2 when God remembered His covenant with the Israelites and sent Moses to lead them out of Pharaoh’s slavery to freedom. And the final time is in Revelation 16 where God remembered the sins of the great city Babylon and poured out His wrath on her.
When God remembered, God responded. Isn’t that what remembrance is supposed to do...elicit a response? We set reminders on our phones and computers so that we will DO something. We ask our spouses and our children to remember what we ask them or tell them so that they will DO what is needed. Remembering is ALWAYS connected with responding in some way.
That is what makes diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia so devastating. I have watched three of my grandparents suffer with such diseases before going home to the Lord. As they forgot who exactly we were, they could no longer respond to us as they used to. The closeness dissipated like a mist in the air leaving a residue of sadness for those forgotten.
Remembering requires a response. The thief knew that. On the cross next to Jesus he asked, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42 NIV) He didn’t want to just be thought about. He wanted Jesus to respond with an action. He wanted Heaven.
Did you know that there is only one circumstance in which Jesus asks us to specifically remember? Only one. He directs us in Luke 22:19, and Paul repeats it in 1 Corinthians 11:24-25, to remember Him when we partake of the sacrament of communion. When we eat the bread of His body and drink the cup of His blood...remember Him.
What is our response to that? How often have we passed the plate and cup with nothing on our mind but the plans for the day ahead. Or with nothing on our minds at all, simply participating by habit.
Jesus asks for more. He DESERVES more. So the next time you participate in the Lord’s Supper and He asks you to remember Him, how will you RESPOND?