The lives and examples of the brothers and sisters who have lived before, especially as recounted in Scripture, should indeed comfort us. The road before us is hard, but it is well-traveled by those who now stand as a great “cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1). Let us take comfort and run our race with endurance.
When I think of your rules from of old,
I take comfort, O LORD.
Psalm 119:52 ESV
In general, our roots are shallow. How many know the names of their great-great-grandparents? How many walk about with a knowledge of family history and the weight of a family legacy? In the modern West, we tend to live as historical orphans, as though our immediate family crept into existence as randomly as the Big Bang. Yet our failure to remember the past does not erase it away. We are each sequels to sequels to sequels to sequels to sequels… And there are likely to be many sequels that follow us. There is no comfort in viewing ourselves as islands floating alone on the sea of time, for then all of the world is both around us and upon us.
The psalmist points us toward a better comfort: thinking upon God’s rules from of old, considering the workings of the LORD in ages long past. How is such thinking a comfort to us? It reminds us that we and our circumstances are not as unique as we might tend to believe.