Learning from History; November 19, 2017


Psalm 107:43 Whoever is wise, let him heed these things
and consider the great love of the Lord.

This verse gives the purpose of the whole Psalm, and it’s an important one. It fits in with the secular proverb that says, “Those who don’t know history are condemned to repeat it.” (And no, that’s not talking about failing a history class in school!) This verse agrees completely with other verses in the Old and New Testaments. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10) “Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:11) God doesn’t change and human nature doesn’t change, so it stands to reason that we can learn a lot about how we should live by knowing what people did in the past. It’s interesting that in this verse, where the NIV says “love,” the Japanese says, “grace.” God’s love is part of who He is, (1 John 4:8) but it is also grace, because we don’t deserve it. Also, where the NIV says “consider,” the Japanese says “understand,” or “grasp.” It’s the same term the Buddhists use in talking about “enlightenment.” We talk about the love and grace of God, but often we don’t really understand it, particularly because we don’t understand how totally we are dependent on it. We indeed do well to look back over history and allow the Holy Spirit to teach us how to live.

This certainly applies to me as much as it does to anyone else. I have many good examples to learn from, starting with my own parents, but they were no more perfect than I am, and I need to learn from their mistakes as well. The same may be said for countless people in the past, from Biblical figures all the way to people who are still alive today. My big trap is in feeling I am exceptional. My gifting and weaknesses may be different from someone else, but we are identically in need of God’s grace and love. Likewise, my failures are nothing special; others have failed more grandly than I have, and God has still redeemed and used them. My goal should be to leave a good example to those who follow me, either in the present or after I am gone. I am very aware that the reason we exist is that God wants children, and I am to strive to be the child He desires me to be and lead others to do the same, for His pleasure and glory.

Father, yesterday contained a real disappointment, but Your plans haven’t changed. I was feeling pretty negative when I went to bed last night, but You’ve scolded me gently this morning. Thank You. The schedule through the end of the year is certainly packed, and I get tired just thinking about it. Help me indeed not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present my requests to You, so that Your peace may guard my heart and mind, for Your glory. (Philippians 4:6-7) Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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