December 7, 1941. What does that date mean to you? I wasn’t around yet. Neither were my parents, but something very important happened that day.
April 19, 1995. How about that one? I was just a little kid, but I remember being aware at that time. But still, I’m afraid if you asked me if something significant happened that day, I wouldn’t know.
October 12, 2000. The same is true. This day is two days after my mom’s birthday and three days before mine, so that’s really all October 12 means to me.
How about September 11, 2001? I’d honestly hope that this date means a little something more than the others. We remember September 11 for the nearly 3,000 innocent lives that were taken by the terrorists who flew airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
So what about those other dates? October 12, not even a year before the attacks in New York, 17 sailors were killed and 39 were injured in a suicide bombing against the U.S.S. Cole.
And April 19, 1995? The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed, and 168 people died, including 19 children under the age of 6.
December 7, 1941 was the attack on Pearl Harbor, where 2,403 Americans were killed and 1,178 were wounded.
I would never have guessed it in 2001, but in 2014, I’m afraid people are beginning to forget September 11. How could we forget something so awful in only 13 years?
Realize that someone who was 8 when the Twin Towers fell would be 21 now. So in one way it’s understandable how they could forget because they didn’t really know to begin with. But it isn’t them I’m worried about. It’s people like me, who were old enough on September 11 to know what was happening and who have forgotten anyway.
It’s healthy to let go of the hurts from the past, yes, but is it wise to forget what happened altogether? Downplaying the seriousness of it, changing the subject to something less offensive, walking on eggshells so as not to offend someone has a place. Sure. When you’re talking to children, you want to make sure you keep the topic age appropriate. But how many of us have refused to face the real issues in our lives because we don’t want to commit to a course of action that might make us uncomfortable?
Do we honestly think forgetting the damage will teach anyone a lesson? Do we think sweeping the truth of the past under a rug will help us learn how to handle the troubles of the future?
Today’s verse is 1 Corinthians 10:11.
These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.
Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, is writing here about something that happened in the Old Testament. If you don’t know, the Bible is divided into two sections, the Old and the New. The word testament isn’t exactly the best. It might be better called the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.
The Old Covenant deals mainly with how to live before Jesus came. The New Covenant deals with how to live after He came, waiting for Him to come again. But the New doesn’t replace the Old. They’re both the story of Jesus and the story of redemption and grace God extends to His creation. We need both covenants.
The stories of how people lived, how people failed, how people triumphed in the Old Testament are there to help us know what God expects of us now.
It’s amazing to me many times because the Old Testament has horrible stories of violence and cruelty scattered throughout its pages. The Old Testament describes some of the worst things in human history. And the people involved in some of those terrible things were followers of God.
What used to concern me was the fact that even though God says He forgives people, the Bible still takes their stories and showcases their wrongs to everyone.
Nothing can change the fact that David had an adulterous affair and had the woman’s husband murdered. Nothing can change the fact that Moses murdered someone and that his pride prevented him from reaching the Promised Land. Noah was a drunk, and Samson? Dude, let’s not even talk about him.
Why does God tell us those stories if He’s promised to not remember our sins?
If you asked any of those people what their opinion on this would be, I can pretty much tell you exactly what they would say. They wouldn’t deny what they’d done. And they wouldn’t mind that their stories are written down for all to see because they’re true, and their story isn’t about them anyway. Their stories are about God’s grace.
God does forgive. Fully. Completely. And that’s how we’re supposed to live too. We shouldn’t hold on to the past. We shouldn’t cling to our regrets. But it doesn’t change the fact that the past happened, and forgetting that it happened is dangerous.
Don’t fall into the trap of believing that the tragedies of our past should be forgotten because they offend people or because they make us uncomfortable. History is there for us to learn from it, whether it’s our own personal history or the history of a religion or of a country.
December 7. April 19. October 12. September 11. And all the other dates of all the other tragedies. Don’t ever forget what those dates cost us.