Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hindsight is 20/20

Hindsight is 20/20. How many times have you looked back on a situation and wished you had known then what you know now? With time comes perspective and wisdom that redefine our understanding of the past. As a father I understand my childhood in ways I didn't from the vantage point of a son. Time and experience didn't change the basic truth of my past, but they have opened my eyes to a more complete understanding of it.

As I read the accounts of Jesus in the New Testament I am struck by the lack of understanding in those closest to Jesus. There are at least 12 occasions where we are told that Jesus's followers "did not understand" something He said or did. The people who lived with Jesus could never have fully understood Him during his lifetime. It was only after the crucifixion and resurrection that they began to understand all Jesus said and did while He was with them. When we read the stories of Jesus in the New Testament, it is from the perspective of writers looking back on events that only made sense after they understood how the story would end. While we consider the life of Jesus from manger to empty tomb, the Gospel writers were looking back from the empty tomb to the manger. As they reflected on the life of Jesus, there must have been many moments when they finally understood the truth of their time with Him. "He was God WITH us ... how could we have missed it!"

What was true for Jesus’s first followers is true of His followers today. It is difficult to see God in the middle of our circumstances. As we face challenges, disappointments and brokenness, we may forget God has promised He will never leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). He also promised to be with us always -- even to the end (Matthew 28:20). The reality of the incarnation is not only that God became flesh and dwelt (past tense) among us, but that God is still with us today, even when we fail to recognize Him.

Just like Jesus first disciples, I may not always see God in my circumstances, but my failure to recognize Him doesn't change the truth that He is with me. God is among us. He is present in our disappointment, shame, brokenness and fear. He meets us in our pain and weakness. God is with us. We are not alone. I must remind myself that while I may not be able to see Him today, one day it will be obvious that He was with me all along. My perspective it not what it will be (read 1 Corinthians 13:9-12).

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