Remembering yesterday’s goodness to you from God can help you face today’s challenge from wherever. No one knows exactly what the future holds. Christians, however, can remember the good things they’ve experienced from God and trust in the glorious future promised to them by God. That’s like rowing a boat, where our back is toward where we’re going, but we can see where we’ve been. Here, God is our coxswain (but much more), who sees what is ahead, speaks into our day, and adjusts the rudder of “our boat” to keep it on course. Our position in the boat forces us to trust him with what lies ahead.
We’re asked by God to purposefully, faithfully, energetically, and skillfully stroke our one oar into its surrounding waters—steadily and worshipfully. This one oar is a trust in God’s never ending loving kindness as it concerns every area of our lives—even when we can’t foresee how life will turn out or don’t think anything good can ever come from something so wrong! As we hear our Coxswain’s voice and see in our wake his past goodness, we’re given the proper perspective and the necessary energy to stay in the boat and steadily row.
A person’s growing trust in God is grounded in his love and promises to us and fueled by our past experiences of his goodness. God promises to cause everything to work for good for those who love him−namely, conform me to the image of the Son. In God, joy can come from sorrow, life can come from death (John 10:20–22; Rom 4:17; 2 Cor 4:17). When these truths become a reality, we’ve experienced something to remember. These remembrances further assure us of God’s faithful love and unending care. They can cause our anxiety over and fixation with ourselves to abate; they can help us rest in God and join with him in caring for the needs of our neighbor. When our hope is anchored in God’s steadfast promises and fueled by our remembrance of his past faithfulness, we’re less susceptible to drown in any dark reality that may present itself!
Though Israel had its shining moments, they
- Forgot what God had done for them and didn’t wait for his counsel (Psa 106:13).
- Sought God with their interests in mind rather than trust that God had in mind what was best for them (Isa 1:10–20; 58:2–7).
- Tested God, by demanding from him the food they craved rather than waiting on him for his provision (Psa 78:18, 41, 56).
- Aroused God’s jealousy by looking elsewhere for help rather than to him. That is, they became idolaters (We still need to turn from idols that battle for our heart).
Though they acted like this, not remembering God’s goodness to them and his ways prescribed to them, God never forgot them. He remembered their frailty and didn’t treat them as their sins deserved. He pleaded with them to remember his past kindness. And, he promised this would never change! (See Psa 78; 105.) To them, God was consistently faithful, loving, patient, and good—even in their worst moments (Lam 3:22–23). This is who he is and what he does!
God’s faithful lovingkindness finds its ultimate expression in the death and resurrection of Jesus. When I placed my trust in what God did for me through Christ, my sins were forgiven and I started a life changing relationship with my Lord and Savior. If you will, Jesus became my coxswain; I yielded to his call to get in his boat and join his great cause. At the same time, an inward renewal process started, and I began to grow in my ability to trust him and genuinely live for him and others. My new birth in Christ began a transformation of my essence toward the image of Christ that consists of a heart that is both affectionately turned to my God and efficaciously to my neighbor—not perfectly turned in that direction but a change has happened in my heart. Once my life was all about myself, now it is about loving God and neighbor. Now when I find myself unfaithful to the LORD and his ways—which is more often than I care to admit—because of Christ I can begin a fresh start, each and every time. Through fresh repentance and forgiveness from God I am then able to rise up and walk in newness of life—I’m able again to faithfully stroke my oar in the waters of life even when I don’t know what lies ahead or when what lies at hand is hard.
Thus, remembering and receiving God’s goodness and love to me can give me energy for today’s known steps and prepare me for tomorrow’s unknown ones. Here, the faithfulness of today prepares me for the steps of tomorrow.
“Great is the LORD, who delights in the well-being of his servant”