Have you ever felt forgotten by God? You prayed, but God didn’t answer. You read the Bible, but it didn’t speak to you. The trials in your life made you think that God went on vacation and forgot about you and your problems.
Noah may have felt like that after being on the ark for a while. The whole world had been destroyed by the flood. The rain had beat down in torrents upon that lonely ark for 40 days and nights. Finally, the rain stopped and the only sound was that of the water sloshing against the sides of the ark. Noah probably expected to hear from the Lord about then. But if God spoke to Noah, the Bible doesn’t report it.
“God Remembered Noah”
What do you suppose Noah was thinking during all that time on the water? At times he probably felt forgotten by God. Maybe you’re there right now. You need assurance that God hasn’t forgotten you. We read words of hope in Genesis 8:1: “God remembered Noah, and every living thing.” When the text says, “God remembered Noah,” it does not imply that somehow He got busy with other things and Noah slipped from His mind for a while.
Rather, in the Bible the word is used often of God in the sense of God taking action on His promises. When God was about to destroy the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, He “remembered Abraham” and spared Lot on his behalf (Genesis 19:29). When Rachel wanted to bear children, but could not, we read that “God remembered Rachel” and she conceived (Genesis 30:22). When Israel was in bondage in Egypt, we read that “God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob” (Exodus 2:24). When Mary conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit, she praised God who remembered His mercy as He had spoken to Abraham and his offspring (Luke 1:54-55). The penitent thief on the cross asked, “Jesus, Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom” (Luke 23:42). In every case, the idea is the same: God remembers in the sense of taking action on His promises.
So here, God remembered Noah and those on the ark. It points to God’s faithfulness. From our point of view, it may seem that God has forgotten. Perhaps He has been silent for a long while. But He will act on our behalf in His time. He remembers. He is faithful to those who are His. God’s faithful remembrance is seen in three ways in Genesis 8.
God’s Remembrance is Seen in His Past Salvation
God’s past salvation is seen in the ark. Noah and everyone on board the ark had been spared God’s judgment. It was not a luxury liner, but those on board were safe. As Noah and his family felt the ark come to rest on the mountain, even though God was yet silent, they knew one thing for certain—by God’s grace they had been spared His awful judgment. If you have trusted in God’s only means of salvation, the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, even if God seems silent at the moment, you can rest assured that you are safe in Jesus Christ.
A man once came to D. L. Moody and said he was worried because he didn’t feel saved. Moody asked, “Was Noah safe in the ark?” “Certainly he was,” the man replied. “Well, what made him safe, his feeling or the ark?” The man got the point. Noah found grace (6:8), and so has every person who has trusted Christ as Savior.
John Newton, preacher and author of “Amazing Grace,” was a drunken sailor and slave trader when God saved him. He wrote a text in bold letters and put it over the mantle of his study, where he could not fail to see it: “Thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee” (Deut. 15:15). Newton wanted to remember God’s faithfulness as seen in His past salvation.
God’s Remembrance is Seen in His Promise of Future Preservation
As he came off the ark, Noah must have had some mixed emotions. On the one hand, he was grateful for God’s deliverance. But on the other hand, he must have felt a bit apprehensive. God had wiped out every other person and all other animals on the face of the earth. Noah must have thought, “What if we disobey Him? Will He wipe us out?”
But those whom God saves, He keeps. Our final preservation doesn’t depend on our grip on God, but on God’s strong grip on us (Jude 24). It doesn’t rest on our great faith, but on His great faithfulness. Aren’t you glad that your future deliverance from God’s judgment depends on God’s faithfulness, not yours? While those who truly know Christ will be growing in obedience, there isn’t a saint who has a perfect track record. Satan likes to come and say, “You claim to be a Christian? Look at your sins! How can you possibly expect God to save you?”
At such times of doubt, I have to say to Satan, “I’m not trusting in my track record to commend me to God. I’m trusting in the faithfulness of the God who has said, ‘Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more’ (Hebrews 10:17). I’m trusting in His Word which declares that ‘He which hath begun a good work in [me] will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ’ (Philippians 1:6).”
God’s Remembrance is Seen in His Present Provision
God had provided all that Noah and his family needed to survive, both on the ark and once they set foot on dry ground again. The earth again sprouted with vegetation, as seen in the olive leaf in the dove’s beak. (The olive tree can sprout even under water.) The olive leaf showed Noah that the water had greatly subsided, since olive trees grow at lower elevations than where the ark came to rest.
God’s provision is also seen in that He had instructed Noah to take seven clean animals on the ark, rather than just two. Noah used one of the seven for his sacrifice (8:20). But in 9:3, God ordains that man may now eat meat. Thus the clean animals provided food for the survivors of the flood until they could grow new crops and until the animals multiplied.
Often when God is silent in our lives, it’s because He wants to bring us into a situation where He makes all things new. But sometimes He has to destroy the old before He can remake the new. We can count on His faithfulness during the silence, knowing that He has saved us in the past, He has promised to preserve us in the future, and He is providing for us in the present. Noah clung to those assurances when God was silent for that long year in the ark. You can cling to those assurances right now, if it seems as if God has forgotten you.
—Condensed from “When You Feel Forgotten By God” copyright 1996 by Steven J. Cole.