authenticity web“I don’t want nice memories! I want my daughter!” I was talking with a coworker who had just lost her young daughter in a tragic car accident the night before. She was telling me about the last time they saw each other. When I suggested those were nice memories, she responded with those tear-stained words.

Playwright James M. Barrie wrote, “God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.” Memory is a fragile tool that allows us to relive the past and call up the ghosts of our experiences. While surrounded by the chill desolation of winter, we can short circuit our eyes and nostrils by painting on the wistful easel of memory the image of the garden of roses we tended last spring.

One problem with memories is that they are not tangible. You cannot touch those roses or extend their life beyond the time reality interrupts your reminisces. Memories are never fully satisfying; they can leave you longing for a return to that reality.

The disciples experienced the tragic loss of their friend, their rabbi, their mentor, their teacher, their brother, and their God. Jesus had died on a cruel cross for no apparent reason while they watched. All they had left were memories. After three days, the resurrection miracle took place and the apostles had him back again! Christ had sealed his identity by his resurrection and affirmed his love for his followers and their value to his mission. This time, when he departed for heaven, they were filled with joy, because they knew he was coming back. They would see him again!

When someone we love dies, we hope he or she has gone on to a better place. We hope we will reunite under better circumstances. We want so badly to see that person again. The same is true of those who love and follow Jesus Christ.

The unique aspect of the believer’s hope is that, since the time of the apostles, no one has met Jesus Christ personally, yet his followers long to see him. “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9). What we have to go on are the memories of the New Testament writers, who shared their memories and those of others so we could have roses in the winter of the Lord’s physical absence.

It was the memory of “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life — the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us — that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete” (1 John 1:1-5).

For believers, there is more than just the hope of seeing their beloved Lord again: “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8). There is a reward just for wanting to see Jesus!

Memories of losses that can never be regained are bittersweet. Memories of hopes and dreams that are guaranteed by the Word of God are beyond sweet; they are our blessed hope (Titus 2:13). There is nothing like the real thing of being with Jesus forever!

There is one memory lapse that undergirds the blessed hope: “Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love; remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!” (Psalm 25:7). When we turn to Christ, God forgets our sins and never forgets that He forgot them! That’s for real!

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