Whether I forget something by my door or hundreds of miles away, every lapse of memory frustrates me. What are the causes of forgetfulness? Actually, I’m more concerned about discovering the cure than the causes.
This week I forgot my Bible. I can easily replace a Bible. But the personal notes I have scribbled in the margins and the special bookmarks my grandchildren made for me can’t be replaced. After reading from the same Bible for a few years, I grow accustomed not only to the written Word of God printed upon the pages, but also to the feel of the worn pages and twisted edges. Sometimes, I underline a verse that Holy Spirit seems to bring to my attention, dating it so that years later I can reference it again.
Before shopping, I meticulously go through the cupboard and make a list of items I need from the grocery store. Unfortunately, I’ve frequently left the list on the counter. Then shopping becomes a test of memory to remember each item.
My uncle reminded my husband and me at our wedding to beware of the good and easy times we would face. With wisdom, he cautioned us about the tendency we may have to forget the most valuable things during affluent times. God reminds us of something similar.
“Make sure you don’t forget God, your God, by not keeping his commandments, his rules and regulations that I command you today. Make sure that when you eat and are satisfied, build pleasant houses and settle in, see your herds and flocks flourish and more and more money come in, watch your standard of living going up and up — make sure you don’t become so full of yourself and your things that you forget God, your God.”
Deuteronomy 8:11-16 MSG
Trouble and hard times often drive us to our knees before God and show us our inadequacy and inability. We can never trust our own ability or genius. Our trust always rests in God. I know that leaving a Bible behind isn’t like forgetting God, but it almost feels like it.
The good things God blesses us with are never meant to replace His Presence or lure us from time spent with Him and in His Word. But it might!
God never forgets His covenant love for us. Never! Our inattention and busyness with lesser things often cause us to forget, be He always remembers.
“He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.”
Forgetting God’s goodness and His faithfulness comes all too easily when we are surrounded by evil and uncertainty. God remains “other than” this world, totally above and over it all.
One of the causes of forgetfulness toward His love comes from the painful and recurring wounds we face day after day. After awhile we may begin to falsely believe that God has forgotten or abandoned us.
“I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.”
Remember my grocery list? Even without my list, I often remember everything on it, because I purposely took stock of what I had, and made special note of what was needed. The psalmist affirmed that he would always consider and choose to remember God’s love and goodness. Will we do the same?
Because Jesus knew the causes of forgetfulness, He left us with an unforgettable reminder of His life and purpose.
” . . . The same night in which he was handed over, he took bread and gave thanks. Then he distributed it to the disciples and said, ‘Take it and eat your fill. It is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.’ He did the same with the cup of wine after supper and said, ‘This cup seals the new covenant with my blood. Drink it — and whenever you drink this, do it to remember me.'”
1 Corinthians 11:23-25 TPT
Whatever we call this remembering — communion, sacraments, or something else — it stands as a reminder of the price He paid to guarantee our freedom and eternal security. A failure to engage in purposeful acts of remembrance may be one of the causes of forgetfulness. Because Jesus wants us to recall the most important concepts of our faith, He leaves us with more than a grocery list of rituals, but a significant act of remembering.
Have you ever listened intently to a wonderful sermon or biblical teaching? And then a few minutes or hours later asked, “What did they say again?” I have! I have quickly forgotten what I was sure I would remember!
At times like this, how grateful I am for the Holy Spirit!
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”
John 14:26 NKJV
And oh, how often He does that for us! God created our minds as incredible retrieval systems. The Holy Spirit comes perfectly equipped to open hidden memory files at the perfect moment and bring back bits of important instruction.
Though the causes of forgetfulness may be many, the Holy Spirit reminds us of important concepts. When I step away from busy activity and take a moment to ask, He consistently answers with exactly what I need.
God also expects us to do our part to absorb the instruction we receive. Taking notes helps me to remember. For others, notes become distracting. Holy Spirit will even assist us to discover the best method of remembering the biblical insights of our spiritual teachers, pastors, and mentors.
Causes of Forgetfulness
I have only scratched the surface of a few important things we try to always remember. Here are some familiar things which contribute to my forgetfulness:
- Distractions caused by work and possessions. God gives us the ability to work, as well as the blessing of family and possessions. Sometimes our blessings consume our thinking and become distractions, however.
- Fatigue caused by over-commitment. Some seasons of life, like being a mother of a newborn, allow little opportunity for rest. However, continuous fatigue affects our memory and ability to fully function. Perhaps re-evaluation of time commitments might be necessary to alleviate the problem of forgetfulness.
- Emotional health also affects our memory capacity. Able Christian counsellors and mentors assist people to begin to recover emotionally from trauma and abuse. I have had to seek help in this area many times. Mental health seriously affects our ability to remember.
- Poor nutrition also causes forgetfulness. Maintaining a balanced diet and refraining from substance abuse (like drugs, alcohol, and smoking) will also assist our memory to stay sharp and active.
- Another key area often not talked about is the enemy’s spiritual attack against our minds. He often attempts to cloud our minds with confusion to keep us from remembering God’s goodness and faithfulness.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)
I welcome you to take a moment and consider each one of these areas. Do any apply to you? How might you reclaim your memory and ability to remember the things that matter the most? Are there other things that cause forgetfulness for you?
I often place my hand on my head and simply pray, declaring the truth of Scripture, “I have the mind of Christ,” (1 Corinthians 2:16). “My mind is sharp and my thinking clear. The Holy Spirit is with me to recall to my remembrance His Word and His truth. Thank You, Lord!”