No, not a headline from a web site, not a TV catch phrase to make you watch the next news segment, not even a tabloid exploitation topic.
“God has amnesia” comes from personal experience and some (painful) discoveries over the years. Over the past 60+ years, my thought was not that God has amnesia, but rather expressed itself in the form of two questions, “What were you, God?” and “Have you forgotten me, Lord?”
Yeah, this is so different from my usual posts. But in a deep way it relates to the heart of all the other posts. I hope you will indulge me for a little reflection on this.
“Where were you God?” when…
- a friend died at 15 of a heart failure
- I strove to earn my father’s favor or even a note of congratulation — that never came
- we couldn’t have our own children
- one of our children tried to commit suicide
- our marriage seemed like we were pulling, but never in the same direction at the same time
- one child was/is in prison
- I made choices, finally grasping at straws, that were often wrong and with consequences
- I grasped a last straw and it failed, too
Had you known me during those 50 years which encompass the above experiences, you might not have guessed what was going on with me. Why? Because I learned very early (like at five years old!) that I could put on a mask, a front, which shielded me from showing my hurt, pain, anger, frustration, and the unspoken “Have you forgotten me, Lord?”
I even thought I could keep myself from those. But that was the greatest deception. I was good at it, very good at hiding my inner self. Yet when all else had failed, then the mask had to come down. No longer could I hide.
Helping God remember…
I had gotten to the point where I wanted to reverse God’s amnesia, specifically related to my sins. After all, as I wallowed in grief and despair, I imagined and re-experienced every sin I could remember. And if I could remember, certainly God could! Well, God’s Law was certainly bringing to mind all my sins— his words of condemnation of my pride, my sins, my self-defense mechanisms. And I replayed every action and reaction and my “new course” based on what I discovered. But nothing could erase the sins and especially the memory of those sins.
That reinforced the idea that God had forgotten about me, but he had not forgotten about my sins! And that is the ultimate in despair. Either God had forgotten me or God didn’t care!
Few people who knew what was going on inside of me during that time, and so the loneliness hit even harder. Imagine, loneliness in the church?
God is cured!
In the prophecy about the new covenant, or better new testament, we read:
[The LORD declares:] “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34 ESV).
In his perfect timing, God raised up 2-3 people who pointed me back to Bible passages that I had taught them over the years. Now I needed to hear them, for me.
With God, forgiveness is always and only one sin old. When I confess and God forgives, the sin is not remembered by him, not ever. “As far as the east is from the west,” says the Psalmist. When Jesus corrects Peter (Matthew 18) about how many times, it’s as if he is saying, “If you are counting forgiveness, that means you are counting sins, and not forgiving.”
I loved to read and hear the Words of hope, love, compassion, and patience of our Lord. The Lord’s Supper (Jesus instituting the new testament in his body and blood, Matthew 26:26-28, etc.) became a precious invitation to remember God’s forgetfulness about my sin and receive his forgiveness.
For God had not forgotten me, but he had forgotten my sin!!! It isn’t God who is cured, but me, in Jesus Christ.