Everyone has a story. You probably will have to ask. And you may need to ask some questions. But everyone who has lived for a reasonable time upon this earth has a story. All of us have endured heartache at some time. All of us have faced adversity. All of us have borne injustice in some way. All of us have had our trials. But when we see people for brief snapshots of their lives, we can make the mistake of assuming that they have had it easy—or at least easier than we have. We look at the person who has an advanced degree or successful business, or perhaps both, and we assume that they cannot understand suffering. Likewise, we sometimes see a person who is knowledgeable and forget the story of the work it took to accumulate that knowledge. We meet people who seem to have their lives together and presume that they have never faced a significant challenge. Upon reflection, we would likely recognize the folly of these passing thoughts. But in the moment, especially when we ourselves are dealing with trials, remembering others have a story can be particularly difficult.
The same principle holds true for groups of people—nations, businesses, congregations. It can be easy to forget the story of people who made our current situation even possible. How many people regularly cite their first amendment rights when burning a flag but remain completely ignorant of the people who designed that flag and wrote and voted for that amendment? How many employees have little appreciation for how much work it took for the business that pays them to get off the ground and succeed at all? And how many Christians appreciate previous generations who studied, evangelized, taught, took a stand, accepted ostracization from the world, established congregations, built buildings, and welcomed them in?
The sixty-sixth psalm is a call for joyous worship and praise to God for what He did to make their lives possible (Psa. 66:1-4). But in doing so, the psalmist recounts the challenges Israel faced as a people in the beginning (Psa. 66:5-7). For preserving them to that day, the psalmist gave thanks to the God “Who keeps our soul among the living” (Psa. 66:8-9). How did He do this and for what did the psalmist say He was worthy of praise? “For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid affliction on our backs. You have caused men to ride over our heads; We went through fire and through water; But You brought us out to rich fulfillment” (Psa. 66:10-12, emphasis mine, KWR). Because of this, God more than deserved praise, worship, and thanksgiving (Psa. 66:13-20). Rich fulfillment. In the days of David, when Israel reached a high point, politically and spiritually, finally there was perspective. All of the trials existed to chasten them from their sin and error and prepare them for further growth. And in the end, when they persevered, there was rich fulfillment. But it was important for the people in the time of David to appreciate the past, Israel’s story, so that they never took for granted what was theirs to enjoy. This remains true for all of us. We will have trials in life. We will have challenges. We will have adversity. Therefore, we must persevere. And we can do it with confidence, because rich fulfillment awaits us when we come out of the desert, travel through the valley, and finally reach the mountaintop. You have a story, but the ending has yet to be written. But if you seek God and His will, and remain faithful to Him, whatever else you may face in life, you can indeed enjoy rich fulfillment.