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Am I Forgetting Something?

Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.” (Psalm 103:2)

This past year I’ve been volunteering at a nursing home. I will never forget my first day on the job, helping the residents back to their rooms after an afternoon of movies and popcorn. One lovely, white haired woman seemed to take a liking to me. She specifically requested that I personally take her back to her room. My job was actually to line her up in the hallway along with all the other residents and wait for the elevator, but this woman absolutely insisted that I be the one to take her to her room. I asked the activity director if that would be okay, and she consented.

So I was standing alongside this woman, feeling rather proud that I was handpicked for this privilege, when suddenly she turned to me and asked “Do you live around here?” I assured her that I did. A few minutes later she turned to me again and asked if I lived around here. I said yes. Then a few minutes later…well, you can probably guess, she asked if I lived around here. Guess who didn’t feel so special anymore? (I never should have told my husband about that, to this day he teases me. Whenever I forget where I put something, he’ll say “Do you live around here?”)

The next weekend it was game day at the nursing home. We had a fun time playing a game which gave each of the residents a chance to share some of their personal stories. At one point during the game, the director asked which kinds of pies were their favorites. Several of the residents piped up with “lemon meringue” and “banana cream.” They looked so happy when they were thinking about their favorite pies, that it really got to me. I didn’t know how long it had been since they had a really good piece of pie, but I decided right then and there to bring pie with me at some point in the near future.

The following week, we played ‘Outburst’ in the game room. It was my job to write the residents answers to the questions on the board. After the game ended, I erased the board and wrote down about ten different kinds of pies, so we could take a vote on which kind of pie was most popular. I told the residents that the following week I would bring in two pies from a local bakery for them to enjoy (remember, I wanted them to have ‘good’ pie, that’s why I didn’t offer to make them myself). I asked a show of hands for each flavor pie. Hardly anyone raised their hands! Where were the folks who only a week ago had practically salivated over banana cream and lemon meringue pies?

I guess we’re just forgetful people. How many times do we crawl onto God’s lap with our desperate desires, only to forget later on what we asked for? How must all of our pressing prayers look to God, when a week or two later we have forgotten what it was we wanted in the first place? We no longer want the same things we wanted a few weeks ago, now we want something else. And then we wonder why God isn’t answering our prayers.

There’s only one thing worse than forgetting what we prayed for, and that’s forgetting how God went out of His way to answer those prayers. Psalm 103:2 exhorts us to ‘forget not all His benefits.’ Why would God have to remind us not to forget His benefits? When He moves mountains on our behalf, certainly we would never forget that! Really? Are we so different from the Israelites who grumbled in the desert after God parted the Red Sea for them, gave them manna from heaven and water from a rock? They not only forgot what great things He did for them, they forgot what they had even asked for in the first place.

I have a word for this type of behavior – it’s called dementia. But this kind of dementia isn’t caused by faulty wiring in our brain; it’s caused by faulty wiring in our heart. Deferred hope has a way of hardening our hearts, which leads to forgetfulness. Maybe our hearts are in need of a jump start, so we can recall those forgotten prayers and all those miracles God performed for us that we left on the wayside. Come on, what’s your favorite kind of pie? Think man, think!

God is more than willing to give us the desires of our heart, even the desires we have not yet conceived, but He’s waiting to hear it all the same. Why does He need to be told all of these things? Because we forget.