Hopelessness and discouragement often result from a brooding memory. Despairing minds frequently dwell on a dark and foreboding past, and focus upon every gloomy feature of the present. Thus discouraged, people forecast the future with the same joylessness that past memories elicit.
There is, however, no necessity for this. Wisdom can readily transform memory into an angel of comfort. Jeremiah writes “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.”—Lamentations 3:21.
That same recollection which on the one hand brings so many gloomy recollections, may, on the other hand, be trained to produce a wealth of hopeful signs.
Thus it was in Jeremiah’s experience: in the previous verse, he writes that memory had brought him to deep humiliation of soul:
My soul continually remembers [my afflictions]
and is bowed down within me.
and now this same memory restored him to life and comfort.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
Like a two-edged sword, his memory first killed his pride with one edge, and then slew his despair with the other. Spurgeon says that this is a general rule of life: “if we would exercise our memories more wisely, we might, in our very darkest distress, strike a match which would instantaneously kindle the lamp of comfort.”
Spurgeon goes on to say: “There is no need for God to create a new thing upon the earth in order to restore believers to joy; if they would prayerfully rake the ashes of the past, they would find light for the present; and if they would turn to the book of truth and the throne of grace, their candle would soon shine as aforetime.”
We have a duty to remember always the lovingkindness of our God, and to regularly review His mercy and grace toward us. If you have lost your joy of living, think deeply upon God’s gracious provision for you. Then, as the poet wisely says, memory will become “the bosom-spring of joy.”