The Danger in Forgetting

There are numerous things I would rather forget, like words I’ve spoken in haste, mistakes I’ve made, stupid and embarrassing things I’ve done. And yet, there are other things I must choose, diligently, to remember, because there’s great danger in forgetting. History shows a forgetful heart often gives way to a cold and unbelieving heart.

Today Jana Kelley, author of Door to Freedom, reminds us of the danger of forgetting, reminding us that some things weren’t meant to be forgotten. Ever. They were to be meditated on, cherished, and passed down from one generation to the next.

“Mom, tell me that story about when I quoted a verse to you while you were driving.”

Ironically, I am driving as my son makes his request. I grin. “You mean the time I was trying to drive our car from the dirt on the side of the road into the speeding traffic on an African highway?” I ask, even though I know the answer. He nods and I start in. “Well, I was scared because the maneuver was pretty ambitious. As I did it, I heard you, five-years-old at the time, use some words from a memory verse we had been working on. Let’s see, it was Isaiah 41:10.”

My son, now a teenager, laughs and joins me in the exclamation, “Oh Lord! Hold our hand!”

Our sons love to hear stories from their childhood. I enjoy retelling their antics.

Recently, I’ve been asking my parents to tell me stories from my childhood. Why? Because I don’t want to forget.

That’s how we keep the memories…the lessons…alive.

Because forgetfulness is powerful.

Take the legacy of Joshua in the Old Testament for example. He led the Israelites to victory in the Promised Land. Through Joshua, God conquered their enemies and gave them a land “flowing with milk and honey.” (Joshua 5:6,7)

But, after Joshua died, “another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10)

In fact, the Old Testament recounts story after story of the kings of Israel and Judah who left God and did not keep their promise to be faithful to Him.


Because they forgot. Forgetfulness is that powerful.

God knew mankind’s tendency to forget. Before His chosen people even entered the Promised Land, God warned them.

“Impress [ My commandments] on your children.” He said. “Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”(Deut. 6:7-9) He commanded them to tell their children about Him and His decrees—to weave the words into their very lives.

He commanded them to tell their children about Him and His decrees—to weave the words into their very lives.Jana Kelley

God even predicted that after a few years of comfortable living, they would be tempted to forget the hundreds of years they relied on God for their very existence.

One generation. Boom. They broke their promise.

What happened?

Parents forgot to tell their children.

When parents forgot to tell their children the mighty works of God, they themselves forgot what He had done for them.

When God’s people forgot what He had done for them, they forgot to obey Him.

When they forgot to obey God, they forgot to look to Him when faced with troubles. They turned to other things for their security.

Generations of forgetfulness passed and by the time Jesus walked among the people  they had no anchor, no direction.

No wonder Jesus had compassion on them: “they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)

Is it the same for you and me today? Of course! We have that same forgetful tendency that the Israelites had.

But here’s the good news:

Psalm 77:11

Remembering is just as powerful as forgetting. When we stop to recount the works of God in our lives, we remember all He has done. When we remember all He has done, we want to obey Him. When we obey God, we look only to Him when we face difficult and even impossible situations.

David, when confronted with problems beyond his ability to conquer, recalled the mighty deeds of God (Psalm 77) and that’s where He found strength.

The same strength is available for us today. We serve a mighty God. Let’s not forget the mighty things He has done. His works are to be shared with next generation. It only takes one generation to forget. Let’s be the generation that remembers.

Let’s talk about this! What are some ways we can intentionally remind us of the things God has done and what He’s promised? How can we share those things with others, whether our children, family, friends, and neighbors? How can our sharing “the mighty deeds of God” help point others to Him? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below or join the discussion on our Facebook Page, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!