What History Can Do

American HistoryIn a not so long ago version of my life I taught, among other things, high school history.  I fought the whole teaching thing for quite a while in my life.   My mom was a teacher; I knew all the downsides of the profession.   Eventually I changed my mind.

Teaching history was no whim.  I’m a history geek.  I love stories.  If they’re stories of things that actually happened, they’re infinitely better.

I grew up in a history loving family.  Many vacations included stops at historic sites.  We didn’t just stop—we stopped, we read EVERYTHING and listened to any park ranger or historical interpreter.  We learned.

I didn’t just learn about the place or the people connected to it.  Yes, I learned important and trivial facts, but I also learned perspective.  It was eye-opening to learn the American war in the late 1800’s and all it’s major battles had names that depended on the geographical origin of the speaker.  Growing up in NY it was called the Civil War.  The history teacher in my high school who grew up in the South called it the War Between the States.

History isn’t just a look at the past, it can be a predictor of the future.  When you know who hold the future,  history is comfort.

I have stressors in my life.  Some are big–money, thoughts of growing old alone,  health issues.  Some are smaller—saying the wrong thing, misplacing my keys, being late for an important meeting.  No matter what their size, it’s ugly and counterproductive when they try to move in and take over my mind.

When I realize worry wiggled its way into my thoughts, I act.  I see if there are changes I need to implement, and then I go to history.  I review the past with perspective.  I remind myself of God’s provision and intervention in my own story.

He provided the financial and prayer support I initially needed to serve in missions for a year within two and a half  months.  He multiplied that support to last for three years—with a $10,000 surplus.

He protected me and gave me peace in the middle of a civil war.

He sent eight friends from Africa to save me from being stranded in Alaska.

He provided money to cover hospital bills from surprising sources.

Friends call or write to check on me when I’m down because “I’ve been on their mind a lot lately.”  He concerns friends with me.

He brought me through multiple rounds of malaria.

He provided salvation for me.

And it’s not just me.  I’ve heard the histories of countless people.  God is significant in each story.  It’s not just people I’ve met.  There are others.  They stretch back through history.  Psalm 78 does a great job recounting the ways God broke through and took care of what people needed.

Once in a while I worry, but it usually doesn’t last long.  I know my history.  I know who holds all of time—past, present, and future—in his hands.

Worry says I can control the future.  Trust says I can’t, but I know who can.  I choose trust and the God who is utterly trustworthy.  Sometimes I need reminders, but it doesn’t take me long to abandon worry and embrace trust.

That’s what history can do for you.

photo courtesy of JoMama1152


(I’m participating in Faith Barista‘s Faith Jam.  Every week she’s asking other bloggers to “jam like musicians” on a faith related topic.  Today’s post is my riff on “Letting Go of Worry.”   If you’re interested in the notes others added to this Faith Jam, go check out her site and follow the links.)

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11 Responses to “What History Can Do”

  1. RuthSeptember 23, 2010 at 7:36 am #

    Well written and a great reminder of what our God does and how much he cares for you and me. I’ll look at the other blog as you suggested. Have a great day!

  2. Melissa BrothertonSeptember 23, 2010 at 9:26 am #

    “He concerns friends with me.”

    I love this! That blew across my soul today. Thanks for the reminder to look to the past treatment God has given me as a clue to how I can trust Him today. 🙂

  3. DebbieSeptember 23, 2010 at 5:28 pm #

    Oh, I just love this!!! Yes, looking at God’s history with us should quickly eliminate any worry that creeps in on us. I know I don’t have to look to hard to be reminded that He can be trusted. And I love what you said here: “Worry says I can control the future. Trust says I can’t, but I know who can.” Great way to summarize it!

  4. allieSeptember 23, 2010 at 10:01 pm #

    I like this.

  5. TirzahSeptember 24, 2010 at 7:35 am #

    Thanks, for sharing, Sheryl! I needed this this morning. And am so glad you have this peace in your heart, too!

  6. Faith Barista | BonnieSeptember 24, 2010 at 10:04 am #

    I’m with Ruth. Very well written… esp. the actual story you’ve lived in order to tell it. Powerfully encouraging. Way to go! Thanks, Sheryl!

  7. Nathan R. HaleSeptember 25, 2010 at 9:19 am #

    Thanks for this encouraging post. God is truly present in the whole world’s story. Although there is so much darkness in the world, I take comfort in the faithfulness he shows and the hope he gives to all people through Jesus.

    I don’t think I really appreciated history until I took your AP U.S. History class! That has translated into an ever increasing interest in world history, Biblical history, and even the implications of my own personal history.

    Now that I work for a university and get free education, I’m thinking of getting a second master’s in history (!). Am I a glutton for scholastic punishment or what?

  8. WaltSeptember 26, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

    Sheryl-you always challenge my thoughts about the unknown future and cause me to reflect on His great provision in the past.

    Our God is Great and greatly to be praised!

  9. SherylSeptember 30, 2010 at 12:05 pm #

    You’re so welcome, Nathan—on so many facets of your comment. I think our AP U. S. History class was unrivaled. It was definitely a learning experience for all of us. It makes me grin from ear to ear to think that year of struggle and study opened up a curiosity for history. Free education and a master’s in history?!?! I love it! I don’t know about glutton for punishment . . . I’d call it feasting at the smorgasbord of life-long learning. 🙂

  10. SherylSeptember 30, 2010 at 12:06 pm #

    Thanks, Bonnie. Thanks for “hosting” this event that forces me to think and write.

  11. SherylSeptember 30, 2010 at 12:09 pm #

    Debbie, Melissa, Ruth, Allie, and Tirzah–
    Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I’m touched that God could use my thoughts to bring peace and remind you of his concern and activity in your life. It’s humbling to think my words impacted you.

    – Sheryl

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