Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. (Psalm 103:1-2 ESV)
If you have read our posts, you have probably noticed a running theme going on. Living in another country is difficult. Having your parents serve as missionaries is difficult. Moving across the world multiple times is difficult. So often we forget all the good things God has done for us. It is easy to forget and to dwell on the tough things. But time and time again, God’s Word tells us to “remember”.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites were commanded to remember how they were slaves in Egypt and how God gave them freedom. “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.” (Deuteronomy 15:15 ESV) And yet, there seemed to be a pattern. The Israelites continuously forgot. It’s easy to judge the Israelites. We may think, “But God freed them from slavery. He parted a sea so they could cross through. He gave them food in the desert. He gave them victory after victory. How could they forget?”
But am I really so different? The truth is that sometimes, too often, I am like the Israelites. I forget all the things that God has done for me. I forget the friends and family He has given to me. I forget that He has been with me in every moment—the good and the hard. I forget the time He gave me with the people I have had to say good-bye to (some for a while; some until heaven). Instead of taking time to reflect on what God has done for me, I ask Him why He would let something happen. It seems backwards, since He loved me so much He sent His son to die for my sins, but it is so easy to do.
Psalm 103 is a psalm that comes to my mind again and again. It’s one that seems to pop up everywhere I go. I don’t believe this is a coincidence. God is trying to tell me something. I’m supposed to remember, to forget not, all of God’s benefits.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.” (Psalm 103:1-5 ESV)
This psalm has so much in it, but one thing that struck me recently was the “benefits” that are mentioned in the first few verses. These verses don’t deal with God giving you good, safe, happy, healthy, easy times. They actually talk about God redeeming and bringing His people through the hard times. He forgives our sin, heals all our diseases, redeems our lives from the pit. I personally don’t think sin, disease, or the pit is anything that people want. However, these are the first three things that David mentions. Because God brought him through those trials, crowned him with steadfast love and mercy, satisfied him with good, and renewed his youth.
I want to learn to remember. To forget not God’s benefits that I do not deserve in any way. Because if I forget not, the natural response will be praise to God. I will be able to “bless the LORD” with my whole heart, not because He has given me a particularly easy life, but because He has been with me the whole time and will bring me through every trial.