Forgetting Our Family History

family history

“Hobbits have a passion for family history,” we read in The Fellowship of the Ring. That can be a good thing; we’re a lot better off when we remember lessons from the past.

But a passion for family history won’t do much good if we forget it in times of trouble.

When the band of hobbits approached a rock-chamber, they found old bones, empty jars, and broken pots, all signs of a troll-hole. At first, they wondered if the cave had been abandoned, but they soon discovered the presence of three large trolls, one stooping, and the other two staring at him.

They were terrified, but they shouldn’t have been.

Years earlier, these trolls had been quarrelling about the right way to eat thirteen dwarves and one hobbit. The wizard Gandalf tricked them. He got the trolls bickering and quarrelling so long that they were above ground after dawn, and turned back to stone. “That is what had happened to Bert and Tom and William,” we read in The Hobbit.

Frodo finally realized that the three trolls that had him scared were the exact same trolls that had been rendered harmless long before. “Well!” he said. “We are forgetting our family history!”

‘You are forgetting not only your family history, but all you ever knew about trolls,’ said Strider. ‘It is broad daylight with a bright sun, and yet you come back trying to scare me with a tale of live trolls waiting for us in this glade! In any case you might have noticed that one of them has an old bird’s nest behind his ear. That would be a most unusual ornament for a live troll!’
They all laughed. Frodo felt his spirits reviving: the reminder of Bilbo’s first successful adventure was heartening. The sun, too, was warm and comforting, and the mist before his eyes seemed to be lifting a little. They rested for some time in the glade, and took their mid-day meal right under the shadow of the trolls’ large legs.

It’s not hard to see how we, like hobbits, are quick to forget our family history.

So many of our battles have been won before us. “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Colossians 2:15). But we live in fear as if these same enemies have the same power they used to wield over us.

No wonder Scripture strikes such a helpful balance. We should be aware of the demonic opposition against us. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour,” writes Peter (1 Peter 5:8). But it never tells us to panic. Instead, it tells us to resist him (1 Peter 5:9), and he will flee from us (James 4:7). He knows he’s defeated; we’re the ones who quickly forget.

We need to know our family history. If we did, we would take the reality of evil more seriously, but we would also stand in the victory that’s already been won on our behalf. We don’t need to be afraid when we remember what Jesus has already accomplished for us.

Many of the problems we encounter in the Christian life come from forgetting our family history.

Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash

I'm a grateful husband, father, oupa, and pastor of Grace Fellowship Church Don Mills. I love learning, writing, and encouraging. I'm on a lifelong quest to become a humble, gracious old man.
Toronto, Canada