Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Today’s readings all have to do with looking at the past; either praising God for how He’s been faithful in it, or reflecting on what we’ve learned NOT to do. I’m not very old yet, but I can say that I already have plenty of both from my own life.
I suspect each of us could make a lengthy list of items from our past that we can praise God for: ways He’s been there when we needed Him, ways He’s worked in our lives in situations we thought were hopeless, and lessons He’s taught us. I suspect also we could make a similar lengthy list of choices we’ve made that, in retrospect, we wish we’d done differently. I’ve tried to live my life to have “no regrets”, but I have to admit that I haven’t been successful. As much as I’ve consciously tried to make wise decisions at every fork in the road, in retrospect I can attest that it’s impossible. I think a certain amount of regret, or at least self-doubt, is an inevitable part of growing wiser with age.
The good news is that we don’t have to make all the mistakes ourselves: very effective lessons can be learned by learning from others’ mistakes. I’m always trying to quietly analyze situations people around me are in to see if I can learn lessons from them, either positive or negative. The story of Israel is full of both. Even in our day God has preserved the Jewish people and the nation of Israel through perils that should’ve rendered them extinct as a race and as a nation long ago. He has been incredibly merciful and protective of them. In the more ancient history we read about in the Bible, God has been amazingly faithful and merciful to Israel as they were alternately obedient and then, far too often, disobedient to Him. He does the same for us, as a loving parent. Think over how God has given you lessons to learn through your life, and what lessons you can pass on to others from your experiences.