THE PAST INFORMS THE PRESENT
Have you ever noticed how the past informs our present? Let me explain, as a child, I once grabbed my grandmother’s hot curling iron that was sitting on top of her bathroom countertop. The burning sensation raced through my nervous system climaxing in a scream from a little boy who burnt his hand. Now when I see a curling iron, I always check to see if it is plugged in or still hot before moving it. The past informs our present.
Another easy example of how the past informs our present is in food choices. Have you ever caught yourself at your favorite restaurant, determined to try something new, but when the server ask for your order you revert back to your “usual”? This is what happens to me every time I visit a restaurant outside of Henderson, TN called “Ada’s Unusual Country Store.” I go in with great determination to order something new, but when I write my order down, the pen automatically writes down “honey ham on sourdough with mango-fire cheese.” This happens because I know what I am going to get with that order. That order is dependable and good. My past experience has informed my present.
Time Out #1:
- Can you think of a lesson you have had to learn the hard way? Why do these past lessons help us in the present so much?
- What is something from your past experiences that inform your present situation?
- Why do these past lessons/experiences help inform our present so much?
In the last devotional, we began to understand how to see our present reality. Today, on our journey of reclaiming the joy in our lives, we must examine the past. The past can sometimes make us feel uneasy, anxious, or embarrassed. However, the past shapes and informs how we will respond and act in the present. Most importantly, though, is understanding how God has been faithful in the past, giving us confidence that He will be faithful in the present.
E – Examine the Past
SEEING GOD’S FAITHFULNESS
The Bible is full of courageous men and women who trusted in God’s faithfulness. When we read their stories, knowing the outcome, it makes identifying God’s divine activity so much easier. Below are listed just a few of these incredible stories of faith and God’s faithfulness to His children. I want you to pick one or two to study individually or as a family and answer the questions under “Time Out #2” (If you have older children, you could give each child a story. Let them answer the questions individually, and then present their findings to everyone.)
Abraham – Genesis 22
Joseph – Genesis 37–50
Moses – Acts 7:20–53
David – 1 Samuel 17
Elijah – 1 Kings 17–19
Esther – Esther 1–10
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – Daniel 3
Daniel – Daniel 6
Time Out #2:
- Can you summarize the story?
- What challenge, decision, or obstacle did the individual have to face in the story?
- How did they rely on faith to make their decision?
- How did you see God’s faithfulness in this story?
GOD IS FAITHFUL
In each of these stories, the same theme runs true, GOD IS FAITHFUL! While each individual faced trials, internal and external conflicts, and pressure from all around they each made a decision to be faithful to God because He is faithful to them. When we think about the hardships we might be facing right now, how the devil might be attacking our family, or how it feels like the world might come crashing down, examine YOUR past. Look back on your life and ask, “How has God been faithful in my story?” We serve a living God who is just as active today as He was in the time of Abraham. See His faithfulness in your past, and let His faithfulness produce joy in your present!
Hebrews 10:23, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” (ESV)
Let us never forget when joy seems to be fading, our God and hope are unwavering. If we cling tightly to our convictions of God’s faithfulness, our joy will cling as tightly back to us.
- Where in your life story have you seen God’s faithfulness?
- What can you do now to prepare your heart to trust in God’s faithfulness in future trials?
- How does God’s faithfulness in our life help us reclaim joy?