Southern Cross DECEMBER 2021

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The Lord helps us reframe our memories through his word in the psalms.

strength folds under my guilt, and my bones wear away” (v10, my translation). What he can do is trust God to deal with the cause of his trauma: “the proud he pays back in full” (v23). David can trust God because he knows God’s love, a love that is no less real for being temporarily hidden: “How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you” (v19). The poet of Lamentations does the same after the fall of Jerusalem, carefully setting the memory of trauma within the memory of God’s character: I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. (Lam 3:19-22) As with trauma, so it is with memories of loss. Psalm 77 is a model for the reframing of memory. Asaph is in acute distress. His prayers bring no comfort from God, and the memory of God’s presence, now lost, is intensely painful: When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted. SouthernCross

December 2021

I remembered you, God, and I groaned; I meditated, and my spirit grew faint. (Ps 77:2-3) The happiness he once felt wrings from him an anguished series of questions that come to an ironic climax in verse 9: I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night. My heart meditated and my spirit asked: … Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” (vv5-6, 9) But at this point Asaph makes a conscious decision to remember God, slowly and carefully. Then I thought… “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago”. (vv10-11) The rest of the psalm is a meditation on God’s miraculous deliverance of Israel through the Red Sea. As the poet builds a new frame for his memories of loss, he finds strength to endure and even hope. In the end he receives a key insight: Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. (v19) Memories of lost happiness have not been driven away, but with the insight that God saved Israel without leaving footprints in the sand comes the hope that God is there with the poet now, invisible 19