I recently came across a website that was published just before we rang in the new decade. With the tone of many inspirational January 1 pieces, the author suggests his readers cultivate a “winner’s mindset” as their 2020 resolution. In hindsight, we remember the same New Year resolve that sparked great plans. I can’t help but wonder: Does anyone feel like “a winner” in 2020? The sentiment seems to more reflect a little league team huddled in their dugout, countenance reflecting their desperate desire for a “run rule” while they watch their opponents run up the score. Maybe we should all just shoot for the “holding out for a participation trophy” mindset.
The year 2020 has certainly left its mark in our history books…and it continues. Just when you think the world could not handle another blow, wham! Another hard situation, loss, statistics, scandal, we could go on. Beyond the broad scope of world events, we all individually face a mound of trials piling up in front of us. History does, however, prove the words of Solomon, “there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9). The sentiments that we express, read, and hear about daily in our world have made headlines before.
In all the historic stories of chaos there’s a theme we can see, but only with the right lens. We must look through the lens of Scripture: the story, poetry, laws, prophecies, and letters written in history and preserved by God that we might know him. Those words shape our gaze and allow us to see a good and purposeful God who remains ultimate and in control no matter what evil and chaos work on the earth.
The start of the story of Scripture sounds familiar to many of us: “In the beginning.” God crafts order, beauty, and purpose where there emptiness and chaos resided before. When the creatures who God made in his image disregarded his ways, brokenness set in. God remained the authority in the situation, declaring the consequences but promising provision for restoration. A few generations later, he calls out a family, the people of Abram, through which he promises to bless the earth and thus restore the brokenness caused by the first rebellion.
Abram’s grandsons strove with parents, extended family, and each other, showing cunning and strength with screwed up motives. God remained the author, moving the family toward the promise. Jacob, one of the grandsons, found himself with two wives, two mistresses, and in a family drama that no Netflix series could rival (see Gen. 29–30 for the craziest episodes). His selfish and deceitful habits surely fueled the problems, yet amid envious and competing wives, genetic engineering, and midnight escape plans, God grew this family from one to fifteen with Jacob’s name and plenty more in their accompanying entourage. Jacob carried the promise God gave to his grandfather, but his actions surely did not reflect he followed God. Still, God kept his promise to restore through this family. Even more he changed the bratty kid’s heart to a man sure that God alone provided the blessing and life he knew. God moved even a man’s bad intentions to work his purposes.
Fast-forward a few centuries, and we find that God has grown up an entire nation from Abram’s line. Mind you, God worked this out as the strongest world empire held the people group as slaves. Though they endured an unjust situation, God still multiplied the people and eventually set free by flexing his majestic power. After a generation-long stint on a sandy road trip, God’s people stood at the edge of land he promised to give them. In this place, he urged them: REMEMBER AND DO NOT FORGET (see Deut. 6–9).
God knew something about mankind—we have weak memories. Our tendency to forget leaves us vulnerable to assess the situations in front of us on without the long history of God’s control and faithful fulfilling of his promises in view. Instead, we fall prey to the loudest voice we hear. Just as Jacob, only two generations after God called out his grandfather, we turn to work out solutions on our own to figure out how to navigate a broken world. All along God has moved his restoring purposes forward, yet we forget and turn again to let the chaos run our lives. We resign ourselves to losing instead of remembering our God’s record and see that we are on the winning side.
Despite his warnings, God’s people forgot. They looked around them and clung to the ways of the teams that lose, all in a desperate attempt to survive the brokenness. Time and time again, the nation forgot and chose the losing solution. You can bet God continued to move his purposes forward. A few remembered, a few trusted. Jeremiah wept and begged God’s people to remember and turn back to the winning side. Daniel chose to follow God’s ways even among a foreign and wicked empire that he was taken captive to live in. Even as foreign armies conquered God’s people, captured, and scattered them across the known world, the written words and a few voices echoed the urging—remember and do not forget.
At the right moment in history, God moved and gave his only son as the means for our reconciliation with him. He showed us faithfulness by making a way to restore our broken relationship with him. He showed us his firm grip on the steering wheel of time; and, to those who follow, a way to move through the brokenness and chaos.
The life of Christ revolved around a mission and a relationship, but even more his death. “Jesus, the founder, and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). The darkest and heaviest moment possible, with the weight of all evil and brokenness bearing down on him, Jesus endured for the joy set before him. He saw further than the moment. He saw life on the other side, the winning result God would work through that deadly moment. He knew he was on the winning side.
Remember and do not forget. The creator of the universe who moved through a man’s bad intentioned conniving, grew a nation while they lived in bondage, and kept his promise to a people who turned their back worked reconciliation to restore our relationship. Remember and do not forget. Jesus had his eyes set on the resurrection, and we too can set our eyes set on a future restoration. Remember and do not forget. Our God has a proven winning record and promises hope for our future. Even in a “losing season,” we are on the winning team.
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” –Romans 8:31–39
About The Author
Leigh Ann Hyde works as a research coordinator and intern coordinator at the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) and studies at Dallas Theological Seminary in pursuit of a Th.M., New Testament emphasis. Besides a nerdy love for Koine Greek and manuscript illustrations, Leigh Ann enjoys taking on the Texas sun with outdoor adventures, strongly competitive board games, coffee snobbery, and living life with her community in Dallas. Leigh Ann lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband, Michael, and their dog, Beau.