A few Sundays ago, during a sermon about Christ’s death and resurrection, our pastor taught us the Hebrew word zakar, which can be roughly translated as “remember, recall, or call to mind.”
I have a fairly decent memory and enjoy recalling or reflecting on past moments and events. But zakar is different from this type of simplistic reminiscing. Zakar is richer and deeper than merely allowing a past memory to resurface. Zakar is a focus on a memory that is so intense that it shapes you and moves you to action as you think of it and as you reflect on it. Zakar doesn’t exist for the sake of nostalgia; it is meant to bring the past into the present and become a driving force into the future.
When our pastor explained this term to us, the concept of trauma immediately sprang to mind. Trauma can be defined as “a psychological, emotional response to an event or an experience that is deeply distressing or disturbing.” The mind of a trauma victim is irreparably damaged, and the traumatic incident often has lifelong repercussions, shaping many of the victim’s future actions and decisions.
I’ve never heard of the concept of a positive “trauma,” but I do believe they exist. In my mind, positive “traumas” are powerful events that forever alter the trajectory of our lives in helpful, life-giving ways. We remember, zahar, these events for the remainder of our days and they go on to shape who we are and what we accomplish in life.
For Christians, Christ’s death and resurrection, and our subsequent salvation, is one of these pivotal moments. The Gospel is to be the fulcrum around which our entire lives pivot. For this to be possible, Christ and His sacrifice must remain forever in our hearts and minds.
In Colossians 3, Paul encourages his audience to set their hearts on things above, not on earthly things. Instead of focusing our mental energies on present circumstances, we are to zahar Christ’s love and sacrifice and His purpose for us. This memory is to take precedence over everything else as we remember that we are hidden in Christ, who is our life.
When we zahar Christ’s sacrifice and presence in our lives, we are released from the burdens of this world and freed to pursue a life of loving God, loving others, and walking in faithfulness and obedience to our Lord and Savior.