Remembering and Forgetting


The Word speaks of God remembering and forgetting such as Psalm 13 that opens with the statement: How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? (Psalm 13:1).

The reality is that the Lord knows all things, constantly. For the Lord “things that are past and those that are future are eternal -- that is, they are ever present from eternity to eternity”(Arcana Caelestia 9849:1). The tiniest flicker of a thought that we have ever had or will have is ever present before His eyes. Most of the time we like to be remembered. But there are times when we would rather that certain events of the past would drift into oblivion.

This is reflected in the words of the prayer contained in Psalm 25:7: “Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions.”

The idea that the Lord knows all of our thoughts and motivations can be deeply unsettling. We would rather He forget some of the things we have thought or done. This desire is reflected in these words from Isaiah: Do not be furious, O LORD, Nor remember iniquity forever. (Isaiah 64:9)

The teachings for the New Church assure us that the Lord’s love for us and His perfect mercy means that He does not hold our past evils as an account against us. He is never angry at us. He is never feeling apathetic about or even antagonistic to helping us. He loves us perfectly. So it is that Isaiah has the Lord speak with these words: “I will not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:25) It seems that He does not remember because of His mercy and forgiveness.

We can be grateful for the Lord’s constant perfect wisdom and love for each of us. He will always remember us and seek our welfare in ways that completely exceed any idea we could have of His efforts. But He also is capable of great mercy and forgiveness and, as it were, is able to forget some of the failings that we have sought to put behind us with His help. As we seek this new life in our daily efforts to be lovingly wise and useful human beings, we can also ask the Lord’s help in remembering and also forgetting as He does for us.

We will never be exactly like the Lord. We will always be finite and limited in our perspective. We do forget very important things that others hope we will remember. We don’t remember the needs of others at times that can be very important. But we can try to be more like Him in our remembering and forgetting.