Less than two months ago, I became the CEO of Mercy House Global.
On the same day, my husband started his new job that took him to a war zone.
His first day in Ukraine coincided with the one year anniversary of Russia’s invasion and on the last day of his trip, more than 1000 people died. The war isn’t over, but we have mostly moved on to other news.
The year before it was Afghanistan in the headlines and the year before that, Syria. Sudan. Congo. It’s hard to remember.
We are a forgetful people. We move from headline to headline.
And that’s a problem.
It’s my problem and maybe yours?
I am tempted to forget what God has done. I am standing on a million miracles, yet I’m doubtful there will be just one more. I worry there won’t be enough, while God is saying, I am more than enough.
I am tempted to forget who I was before I met God?
What has He already done?
Life’s transitions have me pressing into these questions, into my forgetfulness. A current remedy: I have fallen in love with the book of Deuteronomy. (I know, riveting. Stay with me.)
Did you know there are 22 references to remember and do not forget in this book alone?
It’s the fifth book of the Torah and it’s a cautionary reminder, a warning not to forget. How does Moses wrap up the first five books of the Bible? By telling us to remember the Bible’s most vulnerable people groups: widows, orphans and sojourners (or refugees).
Why? Why would God make marginalized people the main characters in this good story of redemption? Why does He tell their stories of exile–from Adam and Eve to the Israelites? Why is the narrative in so much of the Old Testament about refugees, the poor, oppressed and vulnerable?
Why does God ask us to remember them?
Here’s why: Their story is our story, too.
Remembering creates space.
We need to create space to grieve the dark things that happen to vulnerable people.
Before we met Jesus, we were orphans in spirit. Before we followed God, we were fatherless. Before God, we were wandering in our wildness. If we remember our story, we will not forget those who are pushed aside and forgotten.
If we remember the vulnerable today, we will remember our own vulnerability; we will not leave people in the margins because we don’t want to be marginalized.
If we forget our story, we will forget others.
Tim Keller says, that “If the church does not identify with the marginalized, it will itself be marginalized. This is God’s poetic justice.”
The reminders in the Bible come with a warning: Woe to a culture who ignores the vulnerable. Gandi said, “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.”
God wants us to remember what He did for us so we can do it for others. He gives us more than we need so that we can provide for those with great need. Think about the story of Ruth (who was an orphan, a widow and a refugee!) and how caring for her by leaving extra grain behind for her to pick up was law at the time. God defended the vulnerable. We are to do the same.
This cycle (that God wants us to be stuck in) keeps us in the sweet spot of where God wants us to be. When we care for those in the margins, it reminds us of our own past, our own rescue, and how God provides for us. The simple act of remembering makes us want to do the same for those in the margins today.
“A society without memory is like a journey without a map. It’s all too easy to get lost,” unknown.
It is said that history answers the question, “What happened?” while memory answers the question, “Who am I in relation to the past?”
We cannot afford to forget what God has done. We cannot ignore those pushed to the margins.
Remembering them, rescues us.
Remembering what God has done, gives us faith for tomorrow.
Remember this: do not forget.
In many ways, the world has gotten more evil, good work has gotten harder, but the mission for my family and the family of God has never been more clear.
*inspired by the Bema Discipleship Podcast