Christmas Advent HERO

The Spiritual Gift of Hindsight

If only…

The disciples saw the risen Jesus in their locked room and told the doubting Thomas all about it. The disciples on the Emmaus road recognized the risen Jesus as he broke bread with them and rushed back to Jerusalem to share the news. A week later Thomas saw Jesus in the wounds Jesus displayed. Thomas took the memory of that experience with him, sharing the good news of Jesus’ resurrection perhaps as far away as India.

Christian teaching calls all believers to share the news of Jesus’ resurrection, though we ourselves are not eyewitnesses of the event.

While I am persuaded by the historic factuality of Jesus’ resurrection, convincing others by proof of logic or reason argument is not at the core of this witnessing work. Sharing the reason for our hope is.

There are lots of ways to think about doing this but one that is especially appropriate to the end of the school year is that of reflection on the past. We frequently think of hindsight as the occasion of regret. “If I’d known then what I know now…” is our lament when we look back on past actions with regretful awareness. But 20/20 hindsight can also provide us with the lens through which to recognize God’s care for us, experiences of life-redeeming grace, or the blessing of the witness of others to the hope that we share with them.

Perhaps as you look back on this semester or further back in the previous years you can recall times when your back was right to the wall due to your own failure or some other crisis. But instead of shame you were shown mercy and forgiveness. Instead of debilitating illness, you received invigorating health. Instead of meaninglessness and loss of direction, a life of purpose was revealed to you.  Perhaps you can identify times when things did not go as planned and no, with the benefit of hindsight, you can also identify the unanticipated blessings that came in the wake of those disappointments and failures.

These are not only moments to remember and cherish for their own sake, they are also windows for us to begin to recognize the mechanism of our redemption, of our own resurrection hope. These experiences, usually only recognizable in hindsight, help us recognize the ways in which God is at work in our daily life. Such hindsight can provide the scaffolding for our growing confidence as we walk into an unknown future. Furthermore, hindsight can provide the starting point for stories of our own hopefulness when we have opportunity to share them.

The psalm writer declared “I am thanking you God from a full heart. I am writing the book of your wonders.”

Centuries later, John’s Gospel offered, “these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ.”

We have our own writing to do as individuals and communities of believers, writing about the hope of resurrection and redemption in our own lives and in the lives of others.

As the semester draws to a close, I encourage you to pray about it, write about it and talk about it.

In Jesus’ name.

Pr. Jim

May 8, 2019

Deaconess Kristin Lewis and University Pastor James Wetzstein take turns writing weekly reflections.You can contact Deaconess Kristin here and Pastor Jim here