Summary: This message is about understanding and remembering our history so that we will be able to prepare for our future.
Hindsight, Insight, Foresight
The Importance of History
Solomon said, “There are three things which are too wonderful for me, four which I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky…..” (Proverbs 30:18-19a) Eagles have excellent eyesight and the frontal setting of their eyes gives them excellent binocular vision as well as peripheral vision. Eagles can turn their heads almost 270 degrees while sitting or flying and since their eyes are angled 30 degrees away from the midline of the face, they have a field of vision of 340 degrees, very close to seeing all around. I want you to think about what this means for the eagle. Eagles have no predators that threaten them other than man. Because of their size, strength and ability to see almost all around them, it is impossible for another animal to attack it without being seen. One more fact about the eagle, eagles are opportunistic. Eagles will see another raptor kill a fish, wait for it to return to its nest and then swoop in and take the fish for itself. In the truest sense of the words, eagles have hindsight (it can see all around its environment and understand what is happening); insight (its ability within to see an opportunity and act on it); and foresight (it can see far into the distance physically.) As you listen to this message this morning, remember the eagle.
The title of my message this morning is “Hindsight, Insight, Foresight: The Importance of History.” This message is part of our celebration of Black History Month. In the United States of America, February is the month when we celebrate Black History. This event originally began as Negro History Week in 1926 and took place during the second week of February as it coincided with the birthdates of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, the bicentennial of the United States, President Gerald R. Ford expanded the week into a full month. In doing so he said the country needed to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout history.” While Black History Month has been criticized by both black people and people of other races for its unfairness in devoting an entire month to a single group of people, there are lessons to be learned from remembering our history, especially as it relates to our faith in God. During this celebratory month we have the opportunity to reflect on our rich history and remember the price paid by others for us to have the privileges that we have.
Celebrating this month gives us the opportunity to remember the best of our history and culture while remembering that it is OUR history. This month I want you to really take some time and think about what we have and how we got it. Talk to some older folks and listen as they tell you what was available to them sixty years ago and what they experienced “back then.” When you hear and understand their stories you can hopefully appreciate more what we have today. As I said, we have a history and it cannot be remembered if we do not talk about it. So this morning we are going to examine hindsight, insight and foresight and how our understanding of history impacts how we live today and tomorrow.
Let’s review the definitions of hindsight, insight and foresight. Hindsight is “the ability to understand a situation or event after it has happened or developed.” It’s our ability to remember what has happened previously which gives us the opportunity to learn from those past experiences. An example of this is someone learning from a past mistake. They experience the failure, look back on it and learn from it. The process and learning from past experiences give us what we call insight. Insight is discernment; “the ability to see clearly and intuitively into the nature of a complex person, situation or subject.” Insight actually encompasses both hindsight and foresight. Foresight is “the action of predicting what will happen or what needs to happen in the future.” It’s the ability to see what is coming. Foresight moves us to action and it makes sure we do not get too complacent or comfortable. It demands that we move. Working together, hindsight, insight and foresight allows us to learn from the past, adapt to the present and plan for our future. Think of it like this, a person with no foresight, hindsight or insight goes for a walk in the street. They see a car coming. They stay in the street. The car keeps coming and they remain in the street. The car runs over them. They had no foresight, hindsight or insight which led them to get out of the way of the car. When they get out of the hospital, they decide to go for another walk. This time, however, after getting run over by a car, they learned some things. First they have foresight. They know that cars move on the streets and they should anticipate seeing them. Secondly, they have hindsight as they reflect on getting run over by a car previously and take precautions to ensure it does not happen again. Lastly, they have insight as they decide the best way to go for the walk is to stay on the sidewalk. Now, these three working instantaneously together, keeps the person safe. But let me be clear, there are many people walking on this earth with no sight. These people see the car coming; get run over by the car; forget what it felt like the first time to get run over; and continues to walk in the middle of the street only to be run over again. If we’re not learning from out past we are like this person walking down the middle of the street repeatedly getting run over by cars. Having hindsight, insight and foresight keeps us from constantly getting run over by life’s circumstances. I want to share with you why understanding our history is so important.