We might expect that if we could erase the memories of painful experiences like we delete computer files, our lives would be far more peaceful. We might with King David feel that if we might just escape the difficult realities of the both the past and the present, we could find tranquility:
“Oh that I had wings like a dove, for then would I fly away, and be at rest!” (Psalm 55:6).
This will be true in Heaven, where our hearts will have been glorified and thus completely devoted to faith in God. Presently, however, we require not only blessedness in order to remember our need for the Lord Jesus Christ, but also challenge and difficulty. God therefore allows some pains of the past to linger in our memories for the purpose of leading us to more fully trust and submit ourselves to Him. “Before I was afflicted, I went astray. But now I have kept Thy word” (Psalm 119:67).
Such recollection may simply drive us to the Lord for the comfort only He can provide. Or it may help us to avoid sins and mistakes that led to some of the pain we have known in our lifetime. It may also prepare us for ministry to others, even as the Apostle Paul taught that the comfort of God we receive becomes the comfort of God we are able to minister unto others (II Corinthians 1:4). Whatever the reasons for lingering memories, all provide opportunity to “lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help” (Psalm 121:1).
The time will come when our Heavenly Father will wipe away all tears from our eyes and “there shall be no more… sorrow” (Revelation 21:4). This is not that time. Presently, sorrow and tears, including the pains of memories allowed to linger, are sometimes necessary if we are to walk with God and minister to others. May our Heavenly Father lead us to Himself when yesterday’s thorns yet again prick our souls. He is with us to comfort and secure our hearts today as He was then, and also to lead us to others for whom the comfort we receive becomes the comfort we distribute.
“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art Thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance” (Psalm 42:5).
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