Psalm 106:12-13 Then they believed his promises
and sang his praise.
But they soon forgot what he had done
and did not wait for his counsel.
This is so human! We are so prone to rejoice in what God does for us, praising Him at the time – if we even remember to do that – and then in no time forgetting what He has done for us. Looking back over Israel’s history, as this Psalmist is doing, that pattern is easy to see, but we overlook it in ourselves and so repeat it again and again. As has famously been said, those who don’t know history are condemned to repeat it. God never allows us to go through anything that can’t be for our good, but if we don’t learn whatever the lesson was the first time, we’re likely to have to go through it again. Names and places might change, but the lesson itself is essentially the same. As has been said, God is far more interested in our character than our comfort. He’s not mean. Those who insist He is are generally those who most stubbornly resist learning what He’s trying to teach them. Andrae Crouch’s song, Through It All, is a beautiful testimony of someone who learned the lessons God was teaching him, who let go of all excuses and grew as a son and a servant. Not many years before he graduated to heaven Andrae was on a Bill Gaither video, and I was impressed by someone who wasn’t interested in being the star, but who was willing to testify to all that God had brought him through and done for him. Too often we do as Israel did, being proud and feeling entitled because of our “special status” with God, not realizing that absolutely everything is because of His grace, and not because we have earned it. When we look back over our lives, as we all should do occasionally, we need to recognize God’s hand of grace and mercy in it all, and not only give Him praise at the realization, but also remember it going forward, whatever circumstances we go through. As it says in verse one, “His love endures forever.” (The Japanese says, “His grace endures forever.”)
This is my life in spades. I’ve been incredibly blessed, but all too often I’ve taken it for granted or felt like I’d somehow earned it. How stupid! As the old proverb has it, “We grow too soon old and too late smart.” A big part of that is that wisdom is very different from intelligence, and wisdom is far more important and valuable. As Proverbs famously declares, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10) My focus has to be on knowing God and following Him in joyful obedience, whatever He takes me through. Just recently, lots of little irritations were piling up and I was getting quite out of sorts, and then I remembered a friend who has been given a very serious cancer diagnosis, and his wife is already a cancer survivor. I started praying for them, and my mood shifted dramatically! Like the Israelites, I need to learn perspective, gratitude, and obedience. On my own I will mess up, but God is able to straighten me out in spite of myself, and He is to be trusted. (Philippians 1:6)
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for this fairly intense schedule I have right now. Thank You for enabling me to record the outlines for the messages for Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday. That Thursday one was really hanging over me. Help me remember that it is You who will carry me along, and that my job is simply to be humble, submitted, and obedient. May I be diligent and faithful in my part in it all, and may Your will be done in and through me, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!