Summary: Comfort in the dark days come from remembering especially the love and the commitment of those with whom we have shared in the battles of the Faith.

“I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” [1]

Some memories haunt us; other memories bless us. Questions of what might have been often rob us of sleep. That same question can, at other times, cause us to offer thanks to God. Memories of friendships that have been shredded cause us to mourn; and the intensity of sorrow seems unabated even though years have passed. Likewise, warm memories of friends whom we haven’t seen for years can still elicit a sense of joy.

The Bible says nothing of memory in Heaven. Perhaps memory is no longer needed in Heaven since “then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” [1 CORINTHIANS 13:12]. However, Jesus provides a disturbing account of memory in Hades which leads me to believe that even in the lake of fire memory will haunt the damned.

You recall the account of the rich man and Lazarus recorded in Luke Chapter Sixteen. “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead’” [LUKE 16:19-31].

Focus on Abraham’s response when the rich man begged, asking that Lazarus might be sent to even dip the end of his finger in water to cool the tormented man’s tongue, “Child, remember” [LUKE 16:25]. In addition to the torments experienced, this man remembered. Among his memories was that of five brothers who apparently had adopted the same manner of life that he had embraced. He had lived without consideration of God; and they, also, lived without consideration of God. At last, this man who had enjoyed wealth and who had no need for God, discovered compassion. He found compassion at last; alas, he discovered it too late. Though memories will haunt the damned, today, memories serve to encourage the redeemed.

I don’t encourage focusing on the negative memories—little can be gained by doing so. Christians, to say nothing of outsiders, who hold on to bitterness, grudges and disappointments soon discover that their outlook on life is darkened—so darkened that it is difficult to continue walking in the light. Negative memories fostered and fed on ultimately steal contentment and joy. We are well advised to focus on positive memories, especially memories that remind us of fellow labourers who share this holy Faith.

Paul focused on positive memories of shared service with a fellow soldier—memories that sustain him in the trial of his imprisonment and pending execution. Similarly, memories of those with whom we have shared the Faith serve to encourage us, to comfort us and to build us in this Faith. Three times in a few short verses, the Apostle speaks of memories of Timothy and how those memories sustain him in his trials. These warm remembrances encourage the Apostle in his prayers for the young pastor of the Ephesian congregation. Drawing from Paul’s statements, join me in exploring the dynamics of godly memories of fellow Christians.

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