Remember Who You AreMy father was a starving Aramean. He went down to Egypt, living as an immigrant there with few family members . . .. (Deuteronomy 26:5)
Every-once-in-a-while it is important for us to remember who we are. The truth is that the challenges of living each day can take their toll and get the best of us. It can become easy to lose ourselves in the moment. It can be easy to lose sight of what is important. Do you ever have a hard time remembering who you are? Do you ever have a hard time remembering what is important?
But when we remember who we are, we are grounded and given an identity. When we remember that we have lived life, we have faced challenges in the past and God has helped us through them, we can face the challenges of this day, leaning on God, trusting God and God’s faithfulness to help us through the challenges of the moment.
Martin Rinkart was a Lutheran pastor who ministered in a village of Eilenburg during the Thirty Years’ War. It was a devastating conflict that ravaged entire regions, causing unrelenting famine, and bankrupted most of the nations involved in the fighting. Malnutrition and pandemic threatened almost all of Europe.
Eilenburg saw a steady stream of refugees pour into the city for three decades, overwhelming the cities limited resources. Eight hundred homes in Eilenburg were destroyed in the fighting. The three clergy, including Rinkart, were under tremendous strain, conducting multiple funerals daily while trying to minister to survivors.
The Year of Great Pestilence saw every pastor in the city, except Rinkart, pass away. As the sole surviving clergyman in Eilenburg, it fell upon Rinkart to conduct funeral services for up to 50 people per day. In May of that terrible year, Rinkart’s own, beloved wife, died.
Pastor Rinkart lived in a world marked by death and despair. Yet his faith in Christ held firm. How did he keep his faith and sanity? He remembered who he was. He remembered that he belonged to Christ.
Set against the bleak backdrop of a protracted war, economic collapse, his own city’s devastation and the death of his wife, Martin Rinkart wrote the words to the hymn, Now Thank We All Our God, for his children as a prayer of thanksgiving.
Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices. Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices; Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed on our way; With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
This story of Martin Rinkart is a reminder to me that when we “remember who we are”, in a way that the wisdom of ancient Israel offers, we can find a way to face life well, with its gifts and challenges. May you take time to remember who you are, and who God is calling you to become.
Dear God, thank you for giving us our identity as your children. Help us to claim that identity, so it can guide us through these uncertain times. Help us to claim that identity over other identities we might claim. Give us the courage and hope we need for this day. In the hope Jesus offers us, Amen.