Recently I visited my dad’s tombstone with my son Ben. The last dessert I had with my dad before he died was butter tarts.
So we brought one for Ben, one for me, and one for my dad.
As we sat there snacking (we placed the one for him on the top of his tombstone), we made a point of talking about good things we remembered about him from the past. We also read his favourite Bible passage (Psalm 23), said a prayer of thanksgiving and the Lord’s Prayer.
But why do we do things like that? Why do we humans keep looking back to the past to remember certain things?
What good does it do us?
I think Psalm 136 tells us why. It’s 26 verses long. Each verse starts by remembering something from the history of God’s people. And every single verse ends the same way, by saying, “for his steadfast love endures forever.”
For example, in verses 13 and 14 we read that God… “divided the Red Sea in two, for his steadfast love endures forever; and made Israel pass through the midst of it, for his steadfast love endures forever…”
It’s all about remembering the good that happened. But here’s what we’re being taught. Since God was faithful then, he is faithful now, and he will be faithful in the future. That’s why, even though the psalm is talking about things in the past, each line also tells us something yet to come: that God’s steadfast love will continue to endure (just like it always has).
When we look back at how good God HAS BEEN it encourages us to look forward to how good God WILL BE.
That’s what Ben and I were doing while we sat cross-legged on the grass in front of my dad’s tombstone eating butter tarts in the Bracebridge summer sun. And that’s what Psalm 136 is doing too.
Pause and take a moment. Look back into your past and remember all the ways God has been good to you. And remind yourself that since God was faithful then, he is faithful now, and will be faithful in the future.
The more you remember the good God has worked in your past, the more you’ll trust the good God will work in your future too.
By Matthew Ruttan
- I would say a special thank you to Gary Denniss, a historian, family friend and brother in Christ, who takes a leadership role in maintaining the Langford Cemetery (est. 1870) where my father Eric Ruttan is buried (along with many other family members, including my paternal grandparents, Milton and Grace Ruttan).
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