Daily Devotion 06 November 2020
Isaiah 43: 22-25 ‘God Forgets’
22 Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob;
but you have been weary of me, O Israel!
23 You have not brought me your sheep for burnt-offerings,
or honoured me with your sacrifices.
I have not burdened you with offerings,
or wearied you with frankincense.
24 You have not bought me sweet cane with money,
or satisfied me with the fat of your sacrifices.
But you have burdened me with your sins;
you have wearied me with your iniquities.
25 I, I am He –
who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,
and I will not remember your sins.
Hmmmmm, reading the above perhaps I wasn’t being entirely accurate in yesterday’s Devotion, and as the Editor, it’s my prerogative to add a footnote in the form of another one the very next day! Yesterday’s emphasis on God ‘remembering’ his people in their need was 100% accurate and I stand by every word, but Isaiah captures something of God’s nature, also in the Hebrew Bible, which adds something more to our understanding.
I have heard people on various occasions speak of ‘forgiving and forgetting’ in order that healing can take place on both sides. Sometimes people will say openly “I can forgive, but I can’t forget’…and the worry there of course, is that the continued bringing up of the wrong suffered means there’s no peace for anyone. (Difficult to forgive a family member who forgot your special birthday if every year after you unceasingly remind them of it and rub it in!) It’s a difficult one, this. Some crimes, traumas, or sins or surely so bad they should not be forgotten – who would propose forgetting Auschwitz, Mỹ Lai, or Srebrenica? If we forget the horrors of hate, war, genocide, we dishonour the victims and risk repeating appalling acts.
There’s no easy answer to this, of course. Sometimes we remember, sometimes we forget; some memories are harder to recall than others, for all sorts of reasons; forgiveness can be easier for some things than others. Yet God’s words in Genesis yesterday remain true: God remembers us in our need, and God’s love and hope are there for us in difficult moments and memories.
And there’s more, too. Isaiah completes the picture for us: when it is we who are in the wrong, we who have sinned, we who have overstepped… the God who remembers us chooses instead to forgive and forget. Curiously, in that order too: “I, I am He – who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins”. Thanks be to God who remembers and forgets – exactly as each one of us needs.
Thank you, Almighty God, for remembering me in all my need, all my weakness and humanity.
Thank you for your boundless grace, the might of your mercy, which has the power to cover all my sin and shame.
Thank you for the cross of Christ – the strongest love of all. Amen.
Reflection & Prayer © 2020 Paul Tabraham.
Image freely available online.
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