Here’s what I think is interesting: when God created us He created us in His image. So, there are parts of who God is that He embedded within us. He is creator- we have the power of creativity. He is love- we have the power to love. There are other parts He did not give us. He is all knowing- but I cannot read minds (even though my kids say otherwise sometimes) He is all powerful- but I cannot move buildings or stop hurricanes. Now I think we can all be thankful that God did not disperse the all-powerful part, because the world is already pretty broken without teenage boys hurling mountains about to impress girls. (and you know they would) Have you ever wondered though, why God doesn’t give us the ability to forget? The Bible says He can choose to forget, or remember no more, specifically related to our sin. But we cannot. Try as hard as you like but you will not be able to intentionally pick and choose memories to delete from the files in your brain. I am always wishing I could though. Some, simply because they seem to be irrelevant and wasting space- like, who needs to remember The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner from the 6th grade?!? But other memories are dark, heavy or painful, and I’d like to “remember them no more” as well.
God built into us a safety system, if you will. The reason He does not allow us to forget, I believe, is we live in this broken world. If we forget, we put ourselves in danger of being hurt over and over again. You know why I don’t put my hand on a red hot burner? I’ve been burned before, lesson learned. You know why I don’t trust people who lie to me? I’ve been burned before, lesson learned. But there is another, even greater purpose to my remembering: compassion. When I stay connected to memories of my pain, it moves me when I see others hurting. In every place where my heart has been hurt and broken by sin or catastrophe or even my own foolish choices, I have empathy for others as they face similar struggles.
God in His wisdom did not leave us with hearts full of memories to drown in though. The balm for those wounds is forgiveness. When I forgive I am reconnected to God’s goodness to me. I do not forgive because people deserve it. They don’t. I forgive because I did not deserve it, but received it freely at the cross. Every time I am tempted to become self-righteous and judgmental of others who hurt me, the Gospel reminds me that I was all those same things toward my God and yet He loved me so much He was willing to die in my place. Also when I forgive, I set myself free. Forgiveness is not letting the guilty “off the hook” but rather “setting a prisoner free and finding out the prisoner was you”. Unforgiveness keeps me tied to my hurt; forgiveness cuts the tie that keeps me anchored.