“...He who lacks these things is shortsighted...and has forgotten that he was cleansed from His old sins.” 2 Peter 1:9
God was good when He gave us the ability to remember. As I say this I know there are many things you may wish you could forget. But instead of wiping hurtful things from our minds God chooses to do a better thing: He redeems our painful memories. Amazingly, God is able to use our painful memories to produce good in our lives and in the lives of others we are able to show compassion to when they suffer in similar ways. The pathway to redeemed memories is to identify with the sufferings of Christ.
Jesus chose to leave the glories of heaven where He existed in the form of God and equal with God and come to the earth realm and take on the form of man and suffer untold pain at the hands of His creatures. Ponder that! As I reflect on His incarnation I am once again in awe of His love and grace. Let me ask you a crazy question. Did Jesus fret over any painful memories of His torture and crucifixion as our Savior after He rose again? I think we’d all agree that the Son of God didn’t need counseling to deal with a bitter spirit. Let me ask you another question. Did He forget what was done to Him? After Jesus rose from the dead He showed doubting Thomas His scars. I believe He will bear those scars forever as eternal reminders of what He endured for us. As in all things, Jesus is our example of how God uses our painful experiences for ultimate good. In Jesus’ case, He had perfect knowledge of all the suffering that awaited Him. "Heendured the cross despising the shame” for the joy of saving our souls (Hebrews 12:2). Not only does Jesus remember His painful crucifixion He asks us to remember it too. His words are simple and straight to the heart; “Remember Me.”
Jesus established the Lord’s Supper for the express purpose of bringing His suffering and death to our minds. He wants us to remember what He did...what He endured. He also wants us to bring our pain and suffering with us when we remember His suffering. He wants us to identify with Him in what He endured and even to enter into His suffering. In doing so the Holy Spirit redeems our suffering and turns it into joy. I know that sounds absurd but it’s true. A key to this is found in the Hebrew passage I referred to earlier.
“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
Jesus did not look forward to suffering on the cross joyfully. He dreaded it and even asked the Father to let the cup pass from Him yet saying, “Not My will but Your will be done.” The joy was something set before Him. In other words Jesus saw the ultimate good that His suffering would bring in doing the will of the Father and in providing eternal salvation for sinners. So it will be with us. We are not to be gleeful for mistreatment, pain or severe suffering but we are to endure it for the joy set before us, that is, we take joy in the ultimate benefit and good our great God will bring out of our worst experiences. Remember the promise of Romans 8:28.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
What pain do you need God to redeem? Think deeply about the suffering of Christ on your behalf. Remember Him...and God will redeem your painful memories. So, don’t try to forget. Embrace the cross of Jesus and remember Him. And as you ponder how your Savior suffered for you God’s grace will rush to your side and in time you will see the good He will bring forth.