Days Of Infamy
ON a Sunday morning past, exactly sixty-seven years ago today, the United States was drawn into World War II when our military base at Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor was attacked by the imperial forces of Japan – “A day of infamy”, as President Roosevelt described it. Our armed forces were encouraged to keep that infamous attack in mind throughout the war. REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR became the battle cry that rallied our troops in the South Pacific for the next four years.
Just over seven years ago an equally infamous and treacherous attack was perpetrated against our country by a handful of terrorists from Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries. At this very hour American soldiers, sailors and airmen stand in harms way as they continue our nation’s response to that attack. REMEMBER THE TWIN TOWERS is their de facto battle cry.
The unfortunate events in our lives, such as the untimely death of a loved one, unexpected financial difficulties or serious personal failure, will burn in our hearts and minds for many years. The time of such events may not be remembered so much as a “day of infamy,” but certainly as a day of great disappointment. As we think back to such events that may have happened in our lives, we may also recall the lessons learned, the resolve to do better or the personal growth that took place as a result of experiencing that difficult event.
For this reason tragedies are always worth remembering. Instruction, warning, motivation, resolve, personal growth and wisdom can all be derived from reflecting on misfortune and tragedy.
Infamous events are called to our attention in the pages of God’s Word as well, and we are told to keep them in mind for similar reasons.
Several times, for example, in the book of Deuteronomy God cautions his people to remember that they were once slaves in Egypt. Remembering the nearly four hundred years they and their ancestors had spent as slaves of the Egyptians would make Israel realize the greatness of God’s deliverance, appreciate their present good fortune and be warned of what would happen again if they became unfaithful. Israel’s subsequent disobedience and tragic destruction is later used by God in the New Testament to motivate Christians (See the Book of Jude, verse 5).
In Deuteronomy 25:17-19 God emphatically commands Israel, Remember what the Amalekites did to you…Do not forget! God wanted them to remember how the Amalekites met Israel when they were weary and worn out. How they cut off those who lagged behind and how they had no fear of God. Their remembrance would provide the motivation to carry out God’s mission of vengeance upon that wicked nation.
With reference to the second coming of Christ, Christians today are warned to be ready to let go of material possessions. The words of Jesus to Remember Lot’s wife in Luke17:32 are enough to scare any sane person of faith into loosening his grip on earthly things. As distasteful as it must of been for Mrs Lot to be turned into a pillar of salt (pardon the pun), the eternal damnation awaiting those who fail to remember will no doubt be much worse.
Again, we are told, Remember those in prison. . .and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering (Heb13:3). The tragedy of Christians suffering unjustly is a great stumbling block for many of us. Yet Jesus warns us often of such persecution. The world has hated them ( Jn 17:14). Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me (Matt 5:11). During persecution, think of Christ who was persecuted unjustly. Another thought to keep in mind under persecution is that it should be seen as a source of joy (James 1:2-4) because it produces perseverance which in turn produces maturity and completeness.
Finally, we are instructed, Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world. Does the thought of walking a high wire without a pole or safety net seem frightening? Do you think you would survive? Even more frightening is to live in this world without Christ. The odds of surviving spiritually and making it to heaven without him are non-existent. Don’t face the temptations and disappointments of this life without Christ’s help, and don’t face eternity without His salvation.
Over the years God’s children have faced many infamous days and difficult situations. Some we can read about in Scripture. Some we have seen in the lives of other Christians we have known personally. Some we have personally experienced. They are all well worth remembering and calling to mind from time to time.
What we learn in our remembrance will instruct, warn, motivate and make us more wise in serving the Lord. The end result will be the saving of our soul and the souls of those we have an influence over.