Genesis 8:1 (ESV) … “But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided.”
When you’re going through a storm, it’s easy to feel forsaken. “I think the Lord has forgotten me,” said a church member whom I was visiting in the hospital. In her mind, she could recall Hebrews 13:5 and quote it (“I will never leave you or forsake you” [nkjv]); but in her heart, she felt lonely and abandoned. Where was her God? When would the storm end?
Feeling forsaken is a normal human emotion that most of us have experienced, whether we admit it or not. “Why do You stand afar off, O Lord?” asked the psalmist. “Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?” (Ps. 10:1, nkjv) Paul confessed that his troubles in Asia had been so severe that he almost gave up on life (2 Cor. 1:8); and Jesus, who experienced all our human trials, cried from the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46, nkjv) Feeling desolate is nothing new to the people of God; but then they recall the song:
God is still on the throne,
And He will remember His own!
The word “remember” in Genesis 8:1 doesn’t mean to call something to mind that may have been forgotten. God can’t forget anything because He knows the end from the beginning. Rather, it means “to pay attention to, to fulfill a promise and act on behalf of somebody.” For example, God’s promise “and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 10:17) means that God doesn’t hold our sins against us and treat us as sinners. Certainly God knows what we’ve done; but because of our faith in Jesus Christ, our sins are “forgotten.” God deals with us as though our sins had never been committed! The Lord remembers them against us no more.
To remember means to act on behalf of another. God remembered Abraham and rescued Lot from destruction in Sodom (Gen. 19:29). The Lord remembered both Rachel and Hannah and enabled them to conceive and bear sons (30:22; 1 Sam. 1:11, 19). The Lord remembered His covenant and delivered the Jews from the bondage of Egypt (Ex. 2:24; 6:5). “To remember” implies a previous commitment made by God and announces the fulfillment of that commitment. Noah, his family, and the animals had been together in the ark for over a year, which is a lot of “togetherness.” Did they ever get impatient with each other or with the animals? There’s no record that God spoke to them after He had shut them into the ark, so perhaps somebody in the family experienced an occasional fleeting fear that maybe God didn’t care for them anymore.
God not only remembered Noah and his family, but He also remembered the animals that were with them in the ark. God spared these creatures so they could live on the renewed earth and reproduce after their kind. It was His desire that His creatures enjoy the earth and contribute to the happiness of the people He had created in His own image. As we shall see later, the animals were included in God’s covenant with Noah.
We can be sure that God never forgets or forsakes His people, not only because of His promises, but also because of His character. God is love, and where there’s love, there’s faithfulness. He can never deny Himself or His Word, for He’s the faithful God; and He can never change, because He’s immutable. Because He’s perfect, God can’t change for the better; and because He’s holy, He can’t change for the worse. We can depend on Him no matter what our circumstances or no matter how we feel.