“So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land.”
Joshua 6: 27
“The Frustration of Forgetfulness”
“We cannot afford to forget any experience, even the most painful.”
Have I ever forgotten what God has done for me in the past only later to realize how God’s past care, should and does give me hope for the future?
“At the times when you remember God, increase your prayers, so that when you forget Him, the Lord may remind you.”
Mark the Ascetic
“And I say, ‘Perished is my strength and my expectation from the Lord. O Lord, remember earnestly, my affliction and my misery, my wandering and my outcast state, the wornwood and the gall. My soul has them continually in remembrance, and is bowed down within me. But this I recall and therefore have I hope and expectation: It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His tender compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3: 18-23
If there is anything I find annoying, it is forgetting where I put things, whether it’s my car keys, purse, checkbook or a myriad of other items I could list.
There are times I find myself totally frustrated as I rush about, putting something I need in a “safe” place, only to realize later I can’t remember where the supposed “safe” place was. Author William Faulkner wrote that people need, “a little frustration to sharpen the spirit on, and toughen it.” He even went so far as to say that life’s frustrations teach us “fortitude” and “endurance.” If this is true, then my basket full of frustration should make me an expert in endurance.
I want to expand on the idea that “forgetting” is frustrating but the opposite characteristic, “remembering,” does bring fortitude and strength into our lives by toughening us up for the daily trials we face.
But in order for us to get a practical picture of the frustration of forgetting and the rejoicing of remembrance, let’s review what we learned from our study on Jericho and Ai.
First, God came to Joshua, His chosen successor to Moses. God gave Joshua extremely detailed instructions about the battle to take down Jericho. Then our dear Heavenly Father assured Joshua He would be with him. Victory was certain. To Joshua’s credit, not only did he follow every tiny detail of God’s requirements in order to prevail in the fight for Jericho, but so did all the children of Israel.
After the success in Jericho, our text today tells us Joshua became famous in the land. Why? Because he was so great? No! It was because God was with him, at his side, guiding him every step of the way.
When the next battleground city, Ai, was being scouted out, we find no one, not even Joshua, consulted God for help in conquering the small town of Ai because it was deemed insignificant – even inconsequential. Instead, a small band of self-confident soldiers got the bright idea they wouldn’t weary the entire army and so headed over to swat Ai down like a fly on the wall.
There’s only one frustrating problem. All the Israelites forgot something – they forgot who gave them the victory in Jericho. They put God somewhere in a “safe” place and when it came time to head off to Ai, oops, they could not remember where they’d put the “Person” who was responsible for the successful outcome in Jericho. Consequently, Ai became their Waterloo in two respects. First, God’s children lost confidence in themselves. And second, the surrounding nations lost confidence in the God of Israel. You see, our pompous, self-sufficient, “I can do it on my own,” behavior doesn’t just affect you and me, individually. It affects others who look at us. After we’ve fallen on our faces, they scoffingly say, “Where’s your God now? He must be a weak God because look how much stronger I am than you are!”
This is what happened when the Israelites fled from Ai. They felt defeated inside themselves and the people of the surrounding nations, viewed the situation the same way from the outside.
Here’s where you have to love our dear Heavenly Father. When Joshua “rent his clothes and lay on the earth upon his face before the ark of the Lord,” and said, “O Lord, what can I say, now that Israel has turned to flee before their enemies.” Instead of chewing Joshua up one side and down the other, God said to his humbled servant, “Get up!” (Joshua 7: 6-10).
When you and I find ourselves in the valley of frustration because we headed into battle and forgot to take along our Guide, our Comforter, our Compass, and our Strong Shield, God says, “In spite of your folly and forgetfulness, get up! Try again! I’ll be with you!”
Do you feel as though you are in a ditch? God says, “Get Up!” Do you feel like your wheels are ready to come off? God says, “Get up!” There’s no defeat when we finally remember that “safe” place where we laid our God. And when we find Him again, as He did with Joshua, God promises us victory, too! Praise God!
“O Lord, Thou hast set me on high. My flesh is frail and weak. If I therefore at any time forget Thee, touch my heart. O Lord, that I may again remember Thee.”
Queen of England
“O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment and light rises up in darkness for the godly; grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what you would have us do; that the Spirit of Wisdom may save us from all false choices and that in your light we may see light and in your straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”