Deuteronomy 26:4-7

When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the Lord your God, you shall make this response before the Lord your God: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. Deuteronomy 26:4-7

If you were blessed to be a parent, do you remember how your life used to change with every year of school? I remember those days well. But I also remember how God prepared us for those days from the moment we realized that we had a baby on the way.

The various ways that women suffer during pregnancy – the tiredness, the body changes, the morning sickness – are all preparations for life with a newborn. Then, as the baby grows, each chapter brings new joys and new challenges – from laying to crawling to walking, from nursing to formula to baby food to table food. Then there all of the extra trips in the car! All the equipment babies need! Play dates and all the sickness children bring home from school.

While we’re in it, there are times when we feel we are in it over our heads. But we make it through each stage. We’re grateful to God that we make it through each stage. And later, we look back at the hardest times, and we realize that those were the times that God carried us.

In the Bible’s telling of God’s story, there are plenty of references to hard times, to suffering, to disappointment. As a matter of fact, most of the stories include challenges and struggles and resistance and rejection. But through it all, God is relentless in God’s love. God never quits. God never gives us. God never casts the people aside. We know that is true. Not only because we read about it in the Bible but also because that is our life experience.

So it is that the writer of Deuteronomy, in instructing the people to return to God the first fruits of their labor, he also says that those are the occasions to remember where they came from, to remember all that God brought them through.

Unlike those long ago characters in the Bible, our lives today are actually pretty easy. We have electricity and indoor plumbing. Our temptation is to get too big for our britches. To take personal credit for everything good in our lives while blaming someone else for the stuff that isn’t. We’re tempted to leave God out of the equation of our lives and think it is all about us.

I know two guys who make music together as “Trout Fishing in America.” Their music is always fun and clever. One of my favorite songs they do is called “No Matter What Goes Right“. In it they sing, “I’ll still keep loving you, no matter what goes right.” There is our question – will we keep loving, honoring, and following God no matter what goes right?

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, thank you again today for reminding us that you are always there, even through the hardest times and experiences of our lives. Thank you for using those times to shape us and help us grow. Thank you for walking through all the stages of our lives. May we never forget the lessons you teach us along the way and may we always respond with gratitude and generosity. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


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