I will admit that my memory is not what it used to be. When I was younger, I remembered vocabulary words quickly and easily, information for tests pretty well, and a lot of trivial information better than most. At one time I could have told you the starting lineup for the Dallas Cowboys for the first twenty years of their existence, and I could remember the answers to Trivial Pursuit questions even if I had no other exposure to the topic. It shows that the problem with memory is not necessarily ability, but often attention. Parents often act as if their children are incapable of learning basic Bible facts or memorizing Bible verses, but those same children can quote every Disney movie they have seen verbatim. While our memory may not function as well as we age, we can compensate by focusing on the right things to remember. Paul emphasized this in Philippians 4:8 when he wrote, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Phil. 4:8). In Psalm 77 the descendants of Asaph provide yet another important aspect of memory and the importance of choice. During times of turmoil, memories can quickly turn to better times, leading to self-pity and despair. However, if instead we choose to remember these things from a spiritual perspective, focused on God, they can lead us away from despair and toward greater faith.
When the psalmist cried out to God because of how badly he hurt inside, he refused the comfort available and chose a sleepless night instead (Psa. 77:1-2). He remembered God enough to pray, but his dismay caused him to complain rather than reflect (Psa. 77:3). Most have experienced similar situations, times when we faced a problem to which no solution seemed possible, something that kept us up at night. We not only lacked the correct answer, we did not even know where to begin explaining the problem (Psa. 77:4). During times like these, it can be easy to become impatient and demanding with God—so much that we can blame Him for our problems because He does not immediately ease our pain. We question God, but we do not really think about the answers He has provided (Psa. 77:5-9). However, while Asaph felt this way at first, he eventually gained a greater perspective. Rather than comparing his plight to past deliverances God made possible, He recognized that the important thing to remember is that God did indeed make that possible and deliver (Psa. 77:10). If we would take the time to read through the Bible and reflect on what God did for His people, then we cannot but be impressed (Psa. 77:11-12). For when we then approach God in worship and humble ourselves in greater reflection, we realize just how great He truly is (Psa. 77:13). He has shown His power, declared His strength, and exhibited His love from the beginning of time (Psa. 77:14-19). He led Israel out of Egypt (Psa. 77:20), and He sent Jesus to lead us out of our sin (Matt. 11:28-30; 26:28; Acts 2:38; 1 Jn. 1:5-10). These are the things we need to remember when we are facing trials. God is still there, and God still cares (1 Pet. 5:7). We just need to remember it.