Hindsight is 20/20

By Shiloh Gideon-Sjöström

It’s that time of year when we mentally gear up to answer questions along these lines:

What are you looking forward to this year?

What do you hope for in this next decade?

What does your 5-year plan look like?

We are taught from a very young age, especially in the West, to look forward to new beginnings, new perspectives, and new experiences. The “looking back” in self-help or leadership books encourages us to think about good memories or lessons learned or to visualize the habits that brought us through difficult times. While these might be good to do, the looking back God asks us to do is of a very different sort. Over and over again in his Word, he reminds us how he rescued Israel: from drought, from Egypt, from the wilderness, and from the nations waiting to devour them. And then, her reminds us how he rescued us from the grip of sin and death. God invites us to look back and see his enduring faithfulness and loving kindness.

When growing up, my mother would often rouse us up on Saturday mornings and begin the day with prayers of thanksgiving. She recounted all the big and the minuscule things God had done for her and for our family. She kept adding to those lists of gratitude, but essentially they were the same stories over and over. I remember internally rolling my eyes and thinking “yea, yea, I heard this exact story a couple of weeks ago.” But now I wish I appreciated the spiritual discipline of remembrance—and its impact—a lot earlier in my life.

King David starts Psalm 103 saying, “Let all that I am praise the LORD; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me” (NLT). We need to remember what God has done for us, but while doing so we have to be careful not to look for ways to return to the past. We look back to recount God’s goodness and to grow our faith that he will bring us through any valleys and darkness and shadows that lie ahead.

This year, take to heart the saying “hindsight is 20/20.” We look back to look forward—when we clearly see God’s faithfulness in our past, we can be assured of his continued faithfulness in the future.