We often interpret our life events in ways that are contrary to reality. We attribute the bad to our lack of smarts or our failure to get help from spirits or saints. When bad things happen, we think we need to be more selfish, look out more for ourselves, ou we want to seek help from forces besides God. We attribute the good to our own intelligence or to the help of beings besides the Lord.
This is what Israel did. When they suffered, they thought it was because they were not worshiping idols. When they received blessing, they thanked idols, rather than the one true God who had moved in their midst.
But God wanted Israel to understand better their experience. Think about the past: When you suffered, it was because God was punishing the people; when you were blessed, it was because you were obeying the terms of the covenant.
‘Think carefully about the past: from today, the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, to the day work on the temple of the Lord was resumed, think about it. The seed is still in the storehouse, isn’t it? And the vine, fig tree, pomegranate, and olive tree have not produced. Nevertheless, from today on I will bless you.’”
Haggai 2.18-19 NET
For Israel there was a direct connection, for the people as a whole, between their physical condition in the land and their obedience to the Lord.
Today, Christians have not been promised such a connections between their obedience and their physical, material condition. The connection is now spiritual.
But the principle still applies to Christians, of the need to understand our experience of the past and our sufferings and blessings.
If we grow in faith, progress in knowledge of Christ, and advance in the work of the Lord, it is because God is blessing our repentance and our response of faith.
If we are suffering in our hearts, letting temptations get the best of us, and drowning in the problems of this life, it is because we have left off seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.
We need to understand what is happening. We need to interpret our past in light of Scripture. We need to comprehend how our future can change in relation to God. We need to see how our growth, or lack of it, is directly connected to the promise of God and to our response to his word.