“And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
- Romans 5:5
An elderly couple noticed that they were getting more and more forgetful with each passing year. They decided to visit their family physician. After a thorough examination, the doctor offered some rather predictable advice: they should start writing things down so they don’t forget them.
Later in the day, the couple went home. The older woman asked her husband for a bowl of ice cream. “You might want to write it down,” she said. The husband objected, saying that he was more than capable of remembering such a simple request.
The woman then added that she wanted whipped cream on her ice cream, and said that the man better write it down before he forgot. He didn’t. Instead, he said that he could remember a request as simple as ice cream with whipped cream on it.
Again, the woman modified her request, this time saying she wanted ice cream with whipped cream and a cherry on top. “Write it down!” she pleaded. The husband remained stubborn as ever. He responded, “No. I got it.” He then headed into the kitchen.
Thirty minutes later, the man came out to his wife and handed her a plate of eggs and bacon. The woman stared at it for a minute, turned to her husband with a quizzical look, and asked, “Where’s the toast?"
When it comes to God, we can be quite forgetful too.
After the death of Joshua, the writer of Judges records that an entire generation of Israelites grew up who neither knew the Lord nor what he had done for Israel (Judges 2:10). In other words, Israel forgot God.
Forgetting God, the Israelites also forgot the true source of their identity and hope as his chosen people. No longer looking to God as the ultimate source of hope identity, security, significance, and satisfaction, they looked to the world, specifically the idols and false gods of the nations around them, to provide what only God can truly give. The results were disastrous.
Similarly, we’re tempted to forget God every single day. We’re tempted to place our ultimate trust and hope in the idols of our age - things like our accomplishments, relationships, wealth and possessions, physical health, appearance, and so on. However, these, like Israel's idols and false gods so many years ago, let us down. We ask too much of them.
What happens if we don’t achieve what we desired? What happens when our relationships are strained or even fall apart? What happens during an economic downturn or the loss of employment? What happens when we receive discouraging medical news? What happens when we age and our physical appearance fades? If these things are our ultimate source of identity and hope, then all will seem lost.
However, if our ultimate trust is in Jesus, our source of identity and hope can never be lost. He will never leave us nor forsake us. We are God’s children forever. Our Father protects and provides for us. In him, above all else, we can know and experience true and lasting security, significance, and satisfaction.
Child of God: Your Father knows that you’re prone to forget his love. That’s one reason he's written you a note, so to speak, in his Word. As you spend time every day in the Scriptures, you can be reminded of the gospel - that in Jesus Christ you are more loved than you can possibly imagine or comprehend. This is your ultimate source of identity and hope. It does not waver, and it will not disappoint.
Now, who wants ice cream?
You're loved. Don't forget it.
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