History is important. We’ve all heard the saying, “those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.” Israel had forgotten their history as a nation. The records of 1st and 2nd Kings, the Chronicles and other parts of the writings of the Prophets make it clear that when Israel turns from God, God leaves them to their own devices. They suffer the consequences of rejecting God. Yet over and over in Israel’s history they came to their senses and returned to God to find Him ready and waiting to deliver them from their trials. Jesus told the story of the 22 food1Prodigal son to point out this truth to Israel. Jeremiah 2:6 reminded the Israelites of all the miraculous events of their deliverance from Slavery in Egypt and God’s providential guidance and provision through the wasteland of the Sinai Peninsula. Now, Jeremiah 2:7 looks at the final result of God’s providence. It says, “And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination.” It didn’t happen all at once. It took time. It took time for prosperity to do its work.

I can’t help but believe how much better off we all would be if we’d never forget our wasteland experiences. But Israel Not only forgot the miraculous deliverance from the wilderness; they took for granted the many blessings that God gave them at the end of their journey.  It is often said that for every thousand people who can cling to their faith in times of trial and hardship there is only one who can stand firm in times of prosperity. With nice homes and full stomachs and money in the bank it seems easy to forget the times in the wilderness. But it’s the time in the wilderness that should stimulate our gratitude.

I’ve always liked a good survival story since my early elementary years when I read Robinson Crusoe for the first time. I just recently watched “Cast Away” again. A man who was marooned on an uninhabited Island wilderness had to fend for himself against the elements and to take meals wherever he could find them. Identifying with him arouses a sense of gratitude in me as I sit comfortably in my easy chair with my wife beside me.  I’m thankful for a house that protects me from the weather, even though the hail beat it up good last summer. I’m thankful for a stove at which I have “fire” to cook whatever I want. I’m so thankful for the refrigerator that is over stocked with good things and only about 10 steps away. When I put myself, vicariously, in the position of the cast away, I can appreciate the good things I have now and refresh my gratitude. Ben Franklin wrote, “…ingratitude is one of the most odious of vices; let me not be unmindful gratefully to acknowledge the favors I receive from Heaven… For all Thy innumerable benefits; for life and reason, and the use of speech, for health and joy and every pleasant hour, my Good God, I thank Thee.[1]

[1] William J. Federer, Great Quotations: A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Quotations Influencing Early and Modern World History Referenced according to Their Sources in Literature, Memoirs, Letters, Governmental Documents, Speeches, Charters, Court Decisions and Constitutions (St. Louis, MO: AmeriSearch, 2001).