My daily Bible reading today (Deuteronomy 25-27) concerned the “firstfruits” offering. At harvest, a basket containing choice selections from the beginning of the harvest was to be prepared and offered to God. In bringing the offering, the offerer was to say: “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous. But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer . . . Then we cried out to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery . . . So the Lord brought us out of Egypt . . . He brought us to . . . this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, O Lord, have given me.”
Memory plays a huge part in thankfulness. A hundred years after Moses, none of those reciting those words would have experienced the Exodus. And yet, nothing for which they were immediately thankful would have been possible without those events of the past.
When we count our blessings, may we not just be thankful for the immediate, but also for blessings of the past that have brought us along the road to our present. Parents will do their children a favor to recite those blessings in their prayers of thanksgiving. It gives fuller meaning to the words of the hymn “‘tis grace that has brought us safe thus far,” and confidence to finish the verse with “and grace will lead us home.”