Prone to Ponder · the world

hindsight is 2020: 20 reflections from this year

We’re nearing the end of this wild and unpredictable year. A lot of us are looking back on 2020 and searching for lessons learned. Since March, when the world seemed to be turned upside down, I’ve been sorting through my thoughts and impressions – trying to toss my knee-jerk reactions and grab hold of some wisdom to carry with me into 2021. Isn’t it so true that hindsight is 20/20?
 
Here are 20 reflections from this year:

1. What a strangely beautiful (albeit painful) time to be alive in 2020 when the world has had almost a collective experience. Together we’ve been confused, nervous, angry, grieving, anxious, hurting, scared. I have friends who were in the middle of loss, mourning, and suffering before 2020 began, and it felt, for them, as if things were still “normal” all year. They had already been dealing with a broken heart, dashed expectations, and they had been asking God the tough questions. The year 2020 was more of the same for some. 

Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
Hebrews 13:3

2. God is so gracious to us. Let’s not harden our hearts toward Him. Thinking about mortality can be a gift because it helps to wake us up to the things that really matter. 2020 has been a year of uprooting and upheaval. Maybe 2021 will be the year for renewed focus. 

It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.
Ecclesiastes 7:2

3. Life is still precious. Every human being is still made in the image of God. Sometimes it’s easier to remember this when people are behaving as we want them to, but it does apply to all of us, at all times. I can think of plenty of moments this year where I wasn’t easy to love, and it reminds me to have grace for people the way others have shown grace to me.

4. There are things to be learned from every painful situation, if we’re open to it. Evil in this world doesn’t come from God, but he can redeem everything! As with Joseph, his brothers meant to do him harm, “but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20). Sometimes it takes time to figure things out, but He is with us while we do. 

Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray.
Proverbs 10:17

5. Speaking of learning, the mess that was 2020 was an opportunity to learn more about ourselves, our loved ones, and how we respond in times of crisis. Yay! (Read: sarcasm.)

6. God is Sovereign. That isn’t a comforting thought if we feel we can’t trust Him. But He’s trustworthy – and that isn’t just lip service! It’s Truth that sometimes feels hard-won to really grasp in a comfortable and distracted culture like ours.

Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plan without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.”
Job 42: 1-3

7. So many things are none of my business. I want to know the ins and outs of everything God is doing in the world, in the lives of my friends, and in my own life. But I can rest assured that everything is God’s business! I can voice my concerns to Him, decipher what my responsibility is with the things I’m concerned about, and then let them go. It’s easier said than done, but it’s freeing.

ecclesiastes

8. “There is a time for everything.” We all have many opinions, and we shouldn’t feel guilty when we enjoy the blessings the Lord has given us, but we can’t forget to “mourn with those who mourn.”

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…
James 1:17a
Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.
Romans 12:15

9. Perspective can change everything. What are my creature comforts, and what are my needs? The Lord says He will provide our needs; He doesn’t promise our creature comforts.

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
Philippians 4:12b

10. But just because certain things weren’t promised by the Lord in Scripture, we can and should still fight for the righteous things we believe in.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:37-40 

11. Fear is a healthy human emotion when it’s in balance. If it is out of balance it can run your life and ruin your life. Feeling very emotional, out of control, or panicked? Thank God for the Psalms! We are in good company when we are overwhelmed.

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.
Psalm 94:19

12. We don’t have to fear death when we are in Christ. But if we do, it’s because we’re still human. This is one reason God gave us Scripture: to remind us that, when we know Christ as our Savior, we don’t have to fear anything, including the grave. Jesus conquered sin and death, and he did it on our behalf. It’s amazing!

Since the children have flesh and blood, [Jesus] too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil–and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
Hebrews 2:14-15
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

13. “Every man for himself” is how I picture eternity without God.

14. Being present and living in the moment is so difficult when we’ve got so many things on our minds, but it should still be our aim.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
John 10:10

15. It always helps take our mind off of a difficult situation to think of others, what they might be going through, or how we can help them (if they need it). Sometimes getting out of our own head is the best thing for us to do. There’s a big world out there, even though, if I’m not careful, I can start believing I’m the only one in it. 

Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and oppressed.
Psalm 82:3

16. I too often take man’s predictions and forecasts as gospel truth. We should always practice wisdom, but ultimately, only time will tell.

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
James 4:13-15

17. It is already a famous saying but… “dog” spelled backwards is “God” for a reason. 

18. What do I take for granted? (That list is much longer than 20 items.)

19. I believe the American Church is waking up from sleepiness and the world is ripe for true and lasting revival. Hallelujah!

“Wake up, O sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
Ephesians 5:14

20. There were many times in the past when Jesus’ followers speculated if his return was imminent. The Bible tells us we don’t know the exact date and time but we can tell the season. Is this the season? Some people today who study prophecy and Christian eschatology think so. Either way, Jesus said to us:

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come…So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
Matthew 24:42,44

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