There’s a common admonition in the scriptures that I find interesting – the need to remember. It’s such a simple thing to do that I think we forget to do it a lot of the time. At least, I do. I get so caught up in the day-to-day stuff that I don’t pause to think back on all God does for me.
However, remembering seems to be one of the most important admonitions we’ve received. It’s even mentioned in the Sacrament prayers. We partake in remembrance of our Savior and promise to “always remember Him.”
Christ must be remembered for us to fulfill our baptismal covenant. He is the reason we can be baptized, the reason we can progress, and the reason we can repent. Our Savior is the most significant mercy God has given us.
But there are other mercies of God as well, and there are three ways we can learn more about these tender mercies:
1. Remember the Scriptures
The scriptures have hordes of examples for us to learn from and remember. That’s not to say that we need to memorize every single instance of God’s mercy in the scriptures. However, if we study the scriptures and learn to recognize God’s mercy, those instances we do learn can stick with us.
You could try finding a specific instance of God’s mercy in the scriptures that resonates with you. Study it as best you can, compare it to your own life situations, and go out of your way to remember it regularly.
A good example that Alma and other prophets refer to frequently is the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. The Israelites were in severe bondage when the Lord called Moses to free the people from the Egyptians. With a lot of effort and time, the Lord set up a way for Moses to lead the people safely away from the Egyptians. They were freed from bondage through God’s mercy.
Alma refers back to this instance and to his own father escaping from King Noah often. These instances clearly form a strong basis of faith for Alma, and they can for us too. Seeing how the Lord interacts with groups of His children can help us see how He might be guiding and protecting the church now.
2. Remember Your Ancestors
Another way you can remember the mercies of God is by searching through your family history. Your family members might have powerful stories of faith and deliverance that you can rely on. From stories of conversion and traveling to a new land to examples of enduring faith, your family, past and present, can be a source of great strength to you.
A personal example for me was the opportunity to read my great-uncle’s journal. He died in the Vietnam War, so I never met him. But I had the opportunity to read his journal and learn from what kind of person he was.
Remembering him and who he was motivates me to be like him. He was a great example. Each of you has examples like this in your lives. You may not have ever met the person, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t remember and learn from these family members.
3. Remember Your Past
I’m going to use Alma as an example again because I think he’s awesome for this. When he was young, Alma was a straight-up terrible person. He went out of his way to disobey God’s commands, he persecuted the people who had faith in Christ, and did his best to convince people to leave the church. Later, in fact, he and the sons of Mosiah consider themselves “the vilest of sinners” (Mosiah 28:4).
However, with some divine intervention AKA an angel coming and scaring Alma half to death, Alma (and the sons of Mosiah) repent and become powerful missionaries. Near the end of his life, Alma told his experience of repentance to his sons and expresses how life-changing it was:
17 And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.
18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.
19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.Alma 36:17-19
Remembering this experience surely strengthened Alma, but just having the assurance that he had repented and had been forgiven helped him to do the Lord’s work confidently. He knew that because he had been delivered by Christ once, he could turn to Christ at any time to repent if needed.
I’ve found in my own life that the times I’ve repented have become incredible sources of strength for me. Those experiences have taught me that I always have a second chance as long as I trust my Savior and do my best to obey Him.
If you’re struggling with your faith or with difficult trials or decisions, remember the times when God’s mercy has freed you from your personal bondage. The strength you gain from those experiences will carry you through and help you rely on our Savior.
Remembrance Turns to Gratitude
President Eyring shared his experience with remembering God’s mercies when he said:
Although I was tired, I took out some paper and began to write. And as I did, I understood the message I had heard in my mind. I was supposed to record for my children to read, someday in the future, how I had seen the hand of God blessing our family…
As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.
More than gratitude began to grow in my heart. Testimony grew.President Henry B. Eyring, “O Remember, Remember,” October 2007
This was such a simple practice. All President Eyring did was write down a few things that God had done for him each day, and by doing so he was able to remember God’s mercies on a daily basis.
And this practice changed his heart. Not that he was in such a bad place before, but he became even more open and faithful to our Savior, and he developed a perspective of gratitude.
After all, gratitude is more than saying “thank you.” It’s an attitude, a paradigm. It shapes our perspectives and beliefs. So while we do well to notice things we are grateful for, searching for the mercies of God in our lives can nourish gratitude in our hearts on a daily basis.
This week, try spending a few minutes each day to recognize the hand of God in your life. Meditate, write lists, make voice recordings – whatever works for you, try it. And see how your feeling of thanksgiving changes this year.