“They have abandoned me to death, and I am as good as dead. I am forgotten, cut off from your care.”  —  Psalms 88:5

No one wants to be forgotten. I was talking to a friend this past week and heard the most tragic story about a man who was forgotten. My friend related the story as follows:

It seems that when my friend was much younger, one of his uncles passed away. My friend’s  father took it upon himself to hire a stone mason to fashion an appropriate head stone to mark his brother’s grave.

In cutting the stone, the mason misspelled the name of the man who had died. When my friend’s father saw the stone he would not allow it to be placed on the gravesite. He simply deposited the stone in his barn.

Several years went by and my friend’s father passed away. He had failed to pass on the location of the gravesite in this very large cemetery. With no printed records to consult, his uncle’s location was lost. It was as though he never existed–he was forgotten! My friend expressed his heartbreak over his “lost” uncle. He said, “Every time I walk by that stone, I remember that my uncle is out there somewhere. I also think about the fact that there is no one paying their respects to him. There are no flowers to decorate his grave. There is no one to notice that he once lived–no one to ask, ‘I wonder what he was like.’”

What a tragic thing in death–to be forgotten! Much more tragic is to be forgotten in life! The writer of Psalm 88 is rocked by the fact that he has been forgotten. He has been treated in life as though he were dead!

A forgotten life is a broken life. This is what the Lord was up to with the Psalmist. As God’s hand isolated him from all he had trusted in: friends, formality in worship and future plans and dreams; his attention and affections were once again being focused on the Lord.

I know that the prospect of being forgotten is not a pleasant thing, but God’s work in our lives is not always  enjoyable. His most precious work is sometimes His most painful work. “Growing pains” in the Christian life are just that…pains.

A tombstone in the barn last week has totally changed my perspective and my priority in my diligence to reach those who are dying in their sin. I cannot bear to think of the multitude of “unmarked graves of the lost.” I cannot forget–I must not forget to mark the lives of others…before they are forgotten!


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