History in the making
1 We have heard with our ears, O God,
our ancestors have told us,
what deeds you performed in their days,
in the days of old:
2 you with your own hand drove out the nations,
but them you planted;
you afflicted the peoples,
but them you set free;
3 for not by their own sword did they win the land,
nor did their own arm give them victory;
but your right hand, and your arm,
and the light of your countenance,
for you delighted in them.
-The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ps 44:1–3). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
I wonder if this quote by a well known atheist, George Satayana was inspired by his recollection of the biblical stories. They repeat themselves over and over again. Just when you think everyone is safe and they have learned their lesson, somebody else decides they do not need God or that God won’t help them, and they fall right back into the cycle of fall – deliverance – repentance – blessing all over again.
The “history” the psalmist calls us all to remember is that the deliverance did not come from our own hand, but by God’s. This might be the most important historical lesson that we can learn or teach. When we look into the lives of our heroes, we often find flaws. When we study the history of great nations, we can usually identify marks of tragedy and failure. Yet somehow, both continue to persevere. Why? Because they do not succeed on their good merit, but only with God’s help.
There are losers in history as well… those whom God did not bless with victory. I think some of the most powerful testimony of God’s grace in the world is through the witness of history’s losers. Groups of people who should never have made it this far, with the nation of Israel being chief among them. How many nations can claim a history of being destroyed and scattered for 2000 years and still maintaining their own cultural identity? Not many, if any at all. History clearly shows it was not by their strength that they survive, but through God’s grace, often enacted through foreign nations, sometimes former enemies.
This Psalm ends with a question of where God is now in the psalmist’s time of suffering. If God was so good back then, where is he now? That is a question for every person in every generation, and I think finding the answer to that might make the difference between living a life that is aligned with God’s will and struggling to push our own desires over God. It is always hard to see that in the midst of suffering, often unfair, and perhaps even wrong at times. However, if we wind back the clock, we can often find a moment where we made a poor choice or gave a bad response to something that happened, that pushed us down the road we walk today.
How far do you have to go back to find God’s Blessing?
If the road you are walking today is one of suffering, are there any past choices you wish you could change?
The grace of God does not change our past, but it can give us a new future. I pray the path you walk today is one of blessing and joy.