Until the devastation in Texas, the media was filled with stories telling us the social climate of the United States is just as dangerous as a hurricane. Countless articles and news updates reported on the hate, injustice, prejudice, and warped versions of “freedom of speech” that are threatening to tear our country apart. Whether the reporting is accurate or exaggerated, there’s no denying our great country has seen better days. And I honestly believe we will, for we have certainly watched all races and walks of life work side by side in the wake of a natural disaster.

But what is fueling all this social unrest? Obviously sin. But I would dare to say there is another element…fear.

With statues being defaced and the cry to remove anything connected to historical events surrounding the civil war, I can’t help but feel we’ve forgotten the need to remember where we’ve been. Yes, there are some very dark and oppressive times in the history of the United States. Times I pray we will never return to because slavery and racism (in any form) is a cruel abomination. But if we remove all reminders- however painful they may be- we are throwing the good out with the bad.

You see, while some people were fighting to keep their right to be slave owners, others were fighting to see freedom for all.

While some were functioning in selfishness, others dared to stand selflessly at great personal cost and danger.

In the middle of great injustice, a myriad of lives were laid down so justice could prevail.

As I sit and write this I am reminded how in Deuteronomy 15:15, the Hebrews were instructed to remember that they were once slaves in Egypt. It may be strange, but God wants us to remember where we have been.

For me, remembering certain seasons of my life can evoke feelings of grief and loss. Just like yours, my journey hasn’t always been easy. And if we aren’t careful, we can wind up dwelling on the negative elements when we think about the past.

When the negative becomes my focus, I am almost paralyzed by fear and the daunting questions it brings. The words “what if…” can become our greatest enemy.

The fear that fuels the unrest in our country is the same fear that can cripple us individually. It’s one and the same. It’s the fear of re-living nightmarish experiences and feeling helpless to stop it.

This is why we need to be very careful how we look back to remember. Thankfully, the Bible doesn’t just remind us to remember where we once were, but it also tells us how. Take Philippians 4:8 for example. “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

It may be hard, but we can purpose to look back only to recognize what we have learned. We can celebrate how faithful God has been. We can share with others about our radical redemption.

Looking back through the lens of Philippians 4:8 gives us the strength to keep pushing through our current problems. Courage to stand up when no one else will. A reminder that while truth is hard, it’s always the gateway to freedom. And the overwhelming comfort that heaven is our true home.

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