Deuteronomy 4: 1, 5-9
Moses exhorts the Israelites to remember the great deeds that the Lord has done for them and to not let those deeds slip from their memories.
Upon recovering from a long illness, Wilfred Sheed reflected:
The spiritual life becomes very simple when you’re sick. You pray to get better, and if and when you do, you don’t need to be told to be grateful about it: it gushes out of you. And you discover, in the same giddy rush, that just being alive . . . is astoundingly good. G.K. Chesterton once said that if a person were to fall into the waters of forgetfulness and come out on the other side, he would think he had arrived in paradise. But all you need to do is to spend a couple of months on your back, or return home from a war and come downstairs to have breakfast in your own house. So my private proofs of God . . . begin with this: the sheer capacity for happiness, and one’s sense, when it happens, that this is correct and normal and not some freak of nature. When health returns, it feels like coming home . . . and the other thing, the bad news — the broken leg or even the mental breakdown — feels like the freak. But now you are to where you belong, in harmony with the universe. And from this I deduce with some conviction that the universe is essentially a good place to be, despite appearances. (10)
We feel gratitude most poignantly shortly, after we have recovered from a great sickness or immediately after unburdening ourselves of some mental anguish. We feel deep relief because we still remember our pain. But as time passes and we get further and further away from that initial experience of relief, our sense of gratitude fades because we forget how bad it really was.
This is what happened to the Hebrews. When they were in slavery, they cried out to God to be released. And when Moses brought them out of their bondage, they were grateful, but only for a while. As they sojourned in the desert, year in and year out, their memory of what God had done for them began to fade. And whenever anything went wrong, they complained to Moses. “Why did you bring us out into this desert? We were better off back in Egypt!” Past pain is no match for present suffering. We forget how bad we had it.
Thus, Moses exhorts the Hebrews: “Take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your mind as long as you live…. “Forgetting the things of the past does not mean the inability to recall an event. Rather, it means that a past event ceases to have an impact upon the present. Remembrance is an act of re-membering ourselves, to reconnect ourselves to the great graces that we have received.
God’s saving mercy has brought all of us through difficult times. We should not let what God has done for us slip from our memory. We need to remember the pain of the past. Doing so fosters gratitude and helps us keep the little annoyances of daily life in perspective.
~ A Meditation by Marc Foley. O.C.D.