Robison Crusoe was written by Daniel Defoe in 1719. It tells the story of the life of Robinson Crusoe, a man born to middle-life society. He forsook this way of life and sought to gain riches by becoming a sailor, exploring the seas by boat. He ended up shipwrecked on an island near the Mouth of the Oroonoque. The book follows not only his life on the island, but also the spiritual journey that brought him out of his rebellious life, toward a life focused on God and the glorifying of his name.
In his early life, Robinson Crusoe’s spiritual life was pretty much nonexistent. He refused to listen to his parents or the guidance repeatedly given to him by his father. His father quoted passages like Proverbs 30:8, “Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches.” Crusoe turned from his father. He set off into the world with his own agenda, working to gain earthly wealth and glory. He ended up going on different voyages, each teaching him something about sailing and the sea. However, his travels were often met with storms and struggles. Crusoe would say that he had realized his wrong and then promised to turn from them, but when all was said and done he would turn again to the sinful life of seeking his earthly lusts.
When Crusoe was first stranded on the island, he saw it as the worst punishment ever given. Nothing worse had happened to anyone in the whole world. His life was about to end right there on the beach where he lay. He didn’t think about that fact that he was alive; saved from the fate of all others that had been on that ship. Instead, “After I got to Shore and had escap’d drowning, instead of being thankful to God for my Deliverance…I ran about the Shore, wringing my Hands and beating my Head and Face, exclaiming at my Misery, and crying out, I was undone, undone.” He had thought that he knew all there was to living, and without what he thought was necessary for living, he was “dead.”
The way Crusoe lived his life during the early days showed his lack of spiritual life. His journal entries portrayed his feelings. His first journal entry read, “I poor miserable Robinson Crusoe, being shipwreck’d, during a dreadful Storm, in the offing, came on Shore on this dismal unfortunate Island, which I call’d the Island of Despair,… and myself almost dead.” He was a defeatist; having been separated from all things he knew and trusted. These things were of this earth; they had no lasting gain in which he could place his trust. Crusoe had an outward spiritual life. When put on the island where no one could see him, his spirituality faded fast. He began to neglect the Sabbath, seeing them as days like any other. He didn’t see the importance of these days in which we are to set aside our earthly labors. We also see the weakness of Crusoe’s spiritual life when he encounters the “miracle” of the growing of barley. When this growth of barley appeared to be a miracle, he cried and gave thanks to God. However, when he found a rational explanation, he again began to deny the Providence of God.
However, God used this trial of Crusoe to strengthen his spiritual life and faith. Crusoe begins to doubt the way he lives his life when he is suffering from an ague. He feels as though he is about to die, and then in the midst of his fevers he has a dream. He is told that since he has not been brought to repentance he will die. He begins to realize his sin and his need to be delivered from these sins. Through his own reflections, Crusoe views the way he lives his live, “I do not remember that I had in all that Time (while forsaking his father) one Thought that so much as tended either to looking upwards toward God, or inwards Soul, without Desire of Good, or Conscience of Evil, had entirely overwhelm’d me, and I was all that the more hardened, unthinking, wicked Creature among our common Sailors, can be supposed to be, not having the least Sense, either of the Fear of God in Danger, or of Thankfulness to God in Deliverances.”
Crusoe realized that he had lived in all disregard to the will of God. He realized that he was living a life of sin. When he was delivered fully from his sickness, Crusoe fell on his knees and gave thanks to God. “God had deliver’d me, but I had not glorify’d him.” This is the thought that had crossed Crusoe’s mind. He began to put God first in his life. The very next day he took his Bible and began to seriously read and search the Scriptures. Crusoe’s life became centered on his faith. He would study Scriptures for hours, and continually gave God thanks.
His newly strengthened faith changed how Crusoe viewed his life on the island. Crusoe no longer viewed the island as the worst thing that could ever have happened to him. Instead he took time to be thankful for all that he did have. He spent the day that marked his coming to the island in prayer. He spent the whole day acknowledging the mercies God had bestowed upon him. He looked at passages like Joshua 1:5, “…I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” He realized that God was in control of all, and that God worked everything for his good. He accepted the fact that God would deliver him if it was His will. He found comfort in Psalm 50:15, “And call on me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” He realized that his deliverance would come from God alone, and no other. Only through the strength of God could he be delivered.
Crusoe realized that he was happier here on this deserted island than he had been during his whole life. He wrote in his journal, “It was now that I began sensibly to feel how much more happy this Life I now led was, with all its miserable Circumstances, than the wicked, cursed, abominable Life I led all the Past of my Days….” Crusoe accepted the fact that he was under the will of God. He no longer sat around and longed for rescue, but he began to build a home on the island. He began to use what God had given him with thankfulness to glorify the name of God.
It is easy for us to sit here, in our nice heated homes where we know we will always have the next meal, and criticize Crusoe and the way he lived his life. We can easily say that if we were put in the same position as him that we would surely never turn from God, but that we would be thankful for all we were given and would realize the providence of God. However, we must use this story, not to judge others, but to look at ourselves.
In our lives, it is doubtful that many of us will be put into the same position as Crusoe. However, we are all put onto our own individual “islands.” Some islands are more desolate and deserted than others, but each is given by God. An “island” I was put on was the start of Trinity. When I first heard I was going to a new high school, I couldn’t believe it. There was no building, no sports, and barely any people. I looked at all the earthly things that I was losing, instead of being thankful for getting the chance to grow in a true Christian school. When I got to Trinity, I saw that I had been wrong. I had been feeling sorry for myself, when I should have been thankful and joyful. Going to Trinity everyday reminds me that the things of this earth are only temporary things in which we can place none of our trust. Instead, we must turn towards God to supply us with everything necessary. Every struggle we face in this life time causes us to grow spiritually. They bring us closer to God, strengthening our faith. We must be giving thanks to God for these trials, knowing that they are for our good, and are preparing us for when we will be brought to our heavenly Father