Monday, 23 April 2018

Is History Repeating?

What is it, to see history repeating? I suspect I recently stumbled across a personal example of this phenomenon. You see, I live in a little town called Mackay in North Queensland. Historically, Mackay was like most towns in this region. It relied on primary industry to survive. Cane farms, sugar mills, cattle properties—these were the town’s driving industries.

But by the year 2000, a mighty industry came to town. Mining. It wasn’t entirely new—the gold rush era of the 1800s had seen mining towns pop up, thrive, and die throughout our region. But this time it wasn’t gold that drove a new mining boom. It was coal.

My family and I lived through this coal boom. Housing prices rose sky high, new businesses popped up to support the mines, a mass of people moved into town, and the money rolled in. A lot of other ‘mining town’ elements moved in as well. The long-standing residents, who were mostly multi-generational conservative families, did battle against the establishment of strip joints, brothels, and the town suffered an increase in drug and alcohol related violence.

But like all mining booms, the frenzy eventually subsided, and in the last four years, the boom has become a bust for many. Falling coal prices and an international slowdown in demand has contributed to the downturn. Now the miners and their families have left town, many businesses have closed up shop, and we who were here before are left to make sense of the town once more.

I gained further perspective of this repetition of history when I took my son and step-daughter to Sovereign Hill in Ballarat, Victoria. This is a gold mining town reconstructed to 1800s gold rush-era standards. It transports the visitor back in time in an effort to experience what life was like back in the “glory” days of gold.

What I found most strange about our visit to this historic-themed town was that the rise and fall of Sovereign Hill was much like the rise and fall of my town, Mackay. The whiff of riches inspired many to flock to Sovereign Hill and to Mackay. They rode the wave of fortune, and rode the same wave out when the gold dried up. What they left behind were communities with an identity crisis, and residents who needed to develop a new state of normal. The glory days were over, and Sovereign Hill, like Mackay, was a small town again.

But we are a lucky town. There were plenty of towns that didn’t make it, like Mount Britton. In the gold rush era, this town was a big deal. When the gold ran out, the town died. It never recovered, and to this day, it’s nothing more than a flat piece of land, a few headstones, and street signs to nowhere.

History repeating doesn’t just apply to mining towns. As I study my Bible I see the effects of this phenomena of rising and falling. The mighty civilisations that were, then weren’t. I wonder at these great cities. I am sure that those who lived in them had a sense of security. Their money flowed, and their power increased as they won battles and fought wars. Like mining towns, they thrived. The people in them rode the waves of success. They thought themselves invincible, safe, secure.

So the question I ask you, reader, is this: are you living in a civilization in decline? Are you thinking peace, security, safety? Do you think we’ll never end? We have the weapons. We have the power. We have the democracy.

Or, like these towns that profit and fall, are we sitting pretty, waiting for the historic axe to fall? Is the big wheel turning and history simply repeating?

While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 1 Thessalonians 5:3 (NIV)

I don’t want to indulge in doomsday prophecies, but I also can’t help but wonder what it is like to be in decline. What are the signs? Would we know them, even if we were living in the midst of them?

I wonder at our state as the moral fibre of our western culture is tested, stretched, and twisted, and the emphasis on lifestyle, money, and possessions is seen by so many as paramount to our happiness. I look back at history and I can’t help but wonder: are we in a constant state of history repeating?

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV)

First seen in Book Fun Magazine:

Rose was born in North Queensland, Australia. Her childhood experiences growing up in a small beach community would later provide inspiration for her Resolution series.
Two of the three Resolution novels have won Australian CALEB awards. She has also released The Greenfield Legacy, a collaborative novel highlighting the pain of Australia’s past policy of forced adoption, as well as standalone novel, Ehvah After. Her most recent release is the novella, A Christmas Resolution.
Her novels are inspired by the love of her coastal home and her desire to produce stories that point readers to Jesus. Rose holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, and resides in Mackay, North Queensland with her husband and son.


  1. Thanks for an interesting post Rose. Loved your pictures. As for your question, I guess what Eccelesiastes says is true - essentially there is nothing new under the sun. Like fashions which come and go and come again - life is in a constant state of flux - the good times and the bad times, the booms and the declines. Having said that there are new things happening all the time too. Look at the IT revolution and the smart phones and what they have done to our quality of life (both good and bad). So there are new things happening too. Interesting question! Thank you Rose.

    1. Hi Anusha, You are so right - the big wheel turns. Nothing new, and yet so much changing all the time. But where would we be without change! It's how we learn, grow, develop. A necessity of life and living.

  2. Great post Rose. I think the book of Judges shows the cycle of history. God raised up a great leader who fought Israel’s enemies. The nation lived in peace until that person died. Then they began sinning again, causing trouble. They cry out to the Lord and he raises up a leader...
    Our nation could learn a lot from history.

    1. Jo, you have voiced my very heart. I've been praying for an anointed leader. You are right - we could learn so much, and it's all there in written words for us to pick up, open up, listen, hear, learn.

  3. Thanks Rose - your landing point is a bit of a confirmation for me. I am preaching in our church at the end of May, and that was the scripture that came to my mind pretty much straight away ("Peace and safety" - there is another similar theme in Ezekiel 13, about the false prophets who declare all is well, using whitewash to cover up the cracks). My thoughts are that as Christians, we can live from a place of wanting to protect our own peace and safety at all costs - what are we prepared to give up of that to obey God?

    1. This also came to mind, Ruth: 'People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.' Luke 17:27 Jesus said - 'But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.' Matthew 24:37. My son and I recently saw the movie: Paul- Apostle of Christ, and we had a great discussion about what it would be like to face death and persecution every day for our faith. I suspect it's a concept we Western/Christian countries don't really grasp completely. Yet, so many throughout the world today face the same hardships the early Christians endured. Your question is a great one. Do we place peace above our faith by not speaking up/standing up as Christians? Mostly so we don't offend. Are we so invested in our roles as peacekeepers and peacemakers, that we neglect our primary roles as servants to our God? We are told Peacemaker are blessed: 'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.' Matthew 5:9. Peace is also a fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5: 22-23). But peace at all costs is no peace at all. Our Christian countries have fought wars to protect peace and security. Wars that were unavoidable. What if they hadn't been fought. What if our peace and security was paramount? In the end the entire world would have been under bondage - including those who preached protection. Such a great topic. Wish I could be there at the end of May to hear you speak. xo

  4. Sadly, I see many signs that our Christian civilization is in decline. Over here in WA many church buildings are restaurants or offices. Yes, there are some more modern buildings but many struggle to find new members. I am a member of a Church of Christ Friendship Club and one of the topics discussed by the church has been how to minister to a community. When old members die, there are no new ones to replace them. Perhaps apathy is as much of a challenge as direct attacks. (The early church grew in number during persecution. Are we falling away in times of comfort?) Thank you for the post.

    1. Hi Susan, You bring up some very interesting points, and questions. I agree with you. There does feel like a decline, and I agree that there seems to be growth when persecution exists. The greatest conversion rates to Christianity at the moment exist in China (annual rate of 7%) and Iran (5.2%). Both countries where persecution of Christians has been historically high. I do often wonder about the link between religion and faith. Religion being something you practice and faith being something you live. There is harmony and growth when these two intertwine and work together, and my wondering is if (as a whole) our churches have done a good job of explaining the harmony (and differences) between these two factors of Christian faith. Imagine if somehow you could get through to all those hurting people out there - all those without hope, without help, without a way forward, that their local Church was a place where faith makes a way. I think perception is a powerful thing. A hard challenge in hard times. You are certainly at the forefront of that challenge. God bless you and your work. My prayers are with you.