Why is history important?

Dear Students Who Don’t Read My Blog,

You ask me why history is important.Why should we study about people and events from hundreds of years ago? I tell you that history repeats itself. I tell you those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it. To myself I quietly add that those who do study history are doomed to watch everyone else repeat it, but that’s another blog post. I tell you that these were real people who faced real-life problems and we can learn important lessons from them.

I believe all of the above to be true. But there is another reason we study history, and it became clear to me yesterday as I read through my daily Bible reading plan.  I was reading Psalm 77. The writer begins his psalm in despair. He is crying out to God and receiving no comfort. God is silent and angry. He wonders if God has forgotten him and lost all compassion for him.

“Will the Lord reject forever?
    Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
    Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
    Has he in anger withheld his compassion?
Psalm 77:7-9

Have you ever felt this way, students? I have. Knowing I should cry out to God, but feeling so wretched in my sin that prayer seemed useless. God seemed silent and far away. I knew He was there, but I could not access Him.

But that is never the end of the story!

As I continued to read, it was as if the writer knew his questions of God were not in line with His true nature. He begins to talk himself out of despair by reviewing the history of God with His people.

Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
    the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
    and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
Psalm 77:10-12

He then remembers how God led his people out of Egypt, and how he parted the Red Sea. He reminds himself who God is.

Your ways, God, are holy.
    What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
    you display your power among the peoples.
Psalm 77:13-14

Psalm 78 continues,

My people, hear my teaching;
    listen to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth with a parable;
    I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
things we have heard and known,
    things our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their descendants;
    we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
    his power, and the wonders he has done.
Psalm 78:1-4

He remembers all that God has done for Israel since the time of Jacob. How he brought them out of slavery, provided them with the law, fed them in the desert, and continued to be faithful, even when Israel turned away. 

He acknowledges their sin. He knows that Israel is responsible for the broken relationship with God. But by looking back he sees God’s faithfulness throughout the brokenness. This enables him to pray to his Creator and to know His presence again. 

Why is history important? Because it shows us patterns that we cannot see in the present.  Sometimes we feel abandoned and forgotten. Sometimes we feel that God does not listen to our prayers. But when we look back we will see His hand in our lives. It is always there. Whether we choose to take hold of it is our choice. The truth may not always feel true at the moment, but it will always hold up to questioning. By studying my past I am able to see the truth about who God is and who I am with Him and without Him. Because of my past, I know that my future will be brighter if I walk with God.

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