I have gotten to the age where I have to send myself emails from home to work and from work to home to remember what I am supposed to do at each place. My memory is just not what it used to be, and sometimes it’s a little disturbing, inconvenient, and embarrassing. Making two or more trips to the store because you keep forgetting some small items, even with a list, makes store employees question either your honesty or your sanity. It just does not look good, no matter how you look at it.
Some forgetfulness I seem not to be able to control; it’s age related. But, there is one form of forgetfulness that I can control, and that is to never forget what God has done for me. I call this form of forgetfulness, “spiritual amnesia,” and it occurs when we fail to remember the past mercies and grace of God in our lives. So, to overcome this form of forgetfulness in my life, when troubles come, and I find myself about to panic and wonder how I will make it through the situation, I look back and remember the blessings that God already has bestowed on me in the land of the living.
Psalm 103 reminds us to praise the Lord and not to forget the benefits that God has bestowed on us. In verses 3-5, we are told to remember that He has forgiven our sins and iniquities, healed our diseases, redeemed our lives from destruction, crowned us with faithful love and tender mercies, satisfied our mouths with good things, and renewed our strength, making it possible for us to soar like eagles. I can testify that he has certainly brought me through so many trials and tribulations, forgiven me of so many sins, and healed me of so many ailments that I am convinced that no situation can occur in my life that He cannot help me through it.
This month I will be nine years cancer free from colon cancer, and if it had not been for the Lord leading and guiding us to California, I am sure I would not be alive today. Two weeks after being hired at a prestigious university in Santa Clara, California, I used my new health insurance. I had been dealing with a pain in my right side for months, and no doctor could discover why, so I lived on pain pills. Then, on a Wednesday afternoon in October, 2008, I met this wonderful doctor who sat and listened to me for forty-five minutes vent my frustration at having to live medicated all the time.
She sent me two days later to have a cat scan of the abdomen, and I expected some answers in a few days. But, before I got home, she called to say that I had an appointment that same day with a gastroenterologist. During a colonoscopy, they found a cancerous polyp in my colon. Within a week of my first visit with her, I had surgery to remove it, and six weeks later, I started chemotherapy, which I thought meant a death sentence. I taught the whole time I was on chemo, because I needed the energy of my students.
I told the students that I was on chemo, and that if I started running out of the classroom, just make sure that I was headed in the right direction to the bathroom! I am glad that I decided to teach, because late in the quarter, a student came to me and told me that her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer and needed chemotherapy. She said that she would have been freaking out in fear, but she remembered that I came to class every day, and that made her feel that her mother would be alright, and that she had shared with her mother that her teacher had never missed a class. So we never know how God will use our suffering to help others through theirs.
What is remarkable is that the pain was from scar tissue from an appendectomy, but if not for the pain in my side, the cancer may have been discovered too late. The surgeon told me that I was one lucky woman, because colon cancer is called the “silent killer”! So, today, when trials come, I don’t engage in forgetfulness; instead, I remember that truly God has healed my diseases, and not because I was a sin-free saint! It was pure grace, defined as the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.
Although I cannot help you with age-related forgetfulness, I can tell you that to overcome the form of forgetfulness that I call spiritual amnesia that causes us to panic when trials and tribulations come, remember the words of the gospel song, Count Your Blessings. It says, “Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings, and see what God has done. Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your many blessings, and it will surprise you what God has done.” Remember the blessings you have already received in your life and the times when God has rescued you or helped you endure until your life got better. Then, be encouraged that the One who has never left you or forsaken you, will still be with you through everything.
Dear Abba, Father in Heaven,
Praise to Your name! Thank you for all the blessings you have bestowed on Your people! I did not deserve mine. Your mercy and grace is awesome and wonderful, and I cannot thank you enough for Your unfailing love for us flawed human beings. Lord, heal the land today. Bring this divided nation together in love and respect for each other. Let us agree to disagree, but let us never seek to harm or hurt others, simply because they have different beliefs. I remember how You brought us through the turbulent 1960s, when I thought that America would come apart. Do the same for us today. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.