HINDSIGHT                                                                                                                                   Andy Hollifield 1-24-18

Joshua 4:20-24    And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho. (21) And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? (22) Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. (23) For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over: (24) That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the Lord your God for ever.

I have to tell you, I just love this scripture. It never gets old and there are so many different lessons we can learn from it that apply to our lives today. You may be a little curious about the title but I thought it was appropriate. We have all heard the old saying :Hindsight is 20/20. That is true but usually we use it in a negative way implying something that we regret or wish was different. What got me to thinking about this was something I wrote to a friend pertaining to a situation in her life. I told her that one day she would look back on this storm she has been going through and really be able to see how much God was working in her life. Immediately after writing that the Lord brought to mind some storms in my life. There have been some that I never realized just how much grace God had given and all that he had done until I was able to look back and see the big picture. It was only then that I was truly able to be thankful for all of the things God was able to accomplish in my life because of those storms. If I could have had my way at the time, those storms would not have come and just think of all the blessings I would have missed out on in my life. Not to mention the close, sweet, communion I had with the Lord during those dark and sometimes sleepless nights.

In October of 1990, country music recording artist Garth Brooks released a song he had cowritten with Pat Alger. The name of it was “Unanswered Prayer.” The song speaks about some of the prayers he had prayed that God didn’t answer and makes the point that some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. I personally believe that if we ask anything in God’s will he will answer. It’s always either yes, no, or not now. To get back to my story, I began to think about some of those trials and storms and what I had prayed for while going through them. Some instances weren’t even trials but just things that I wanted that I thought were best for me at the time. Now, I can look back and see how that God was working what he knew, was best for me. A lot of times it involved him not even dignifying those prayers with an answer because I was seeking my wants instead of his will. I don’t want to try to sound super spiritual or anything so I will be honest and tell you that there are some of those things that I still wonder why God wouldn’t answer like I wanted him to. That is the human side of all of us and we just have to trust the sovereignty and wisdom of God.

I don’t want to dwell on instances in my life but I would rather point us back to some bible instances where I am sure that some of God’s people reacted just as humanly as we do in some of their situations. The first person in the bible that I thought about was Hannah. I am not talking about a prayer that God didn’t answer but rather one that he did. Most of us know the story of Samuel how that Hannah was barren and went into the temple and prayed for a man child. She also told the Lord if he would give her a son then she would give him back to the Lord. Hannah is only mentioned 13 times in the bible but she teaches us a valuable lesson about prayer and faith. The last time she is mentioned is in 1 Samuel 2:21 where it speaks about how that Hannah gave birth to three more sons and two daughters after Samuel. I kind of wonder though, what Hannah must have thought when she looked back at that time in her life when she was barren and being afflicted and mocked by Peninnah, her husbands other wife that had children. No doubt that was a dark time in her life, in large part due to the stigma that was placed upon a woman who wasn’t able to bear a child. A woman was considered as less than a woman if she couldn’t bear children to her husband. No doubt, as she looked back at those days in her life as she played with her children or maybe grandchildren, she must have remembered how broken she had been and of a sorrowful spirit. And now here she was, the mother of five more and most likely a grandma and her oldest son was the first judge of Israel as well as a highly regarded prophet. Looking back she could see how God was using her son to lead his people Israel in ways she would have never dreamed when she was praying that night years before in the temple. She could not have known the great things God was accomplishing through her emotional strife at the time but a nation was blessed because of her enduring the storm.

The next one I thought of was Mary and Martha. They could not have known what great things God would accomplish and how their brother would be such a living testimony to Jesus’ power after he was called out of the grave. At the time, their hearts were broken because of Lazarus’ death.  They could only hurt inside and blame Jesus for him dying because Jesus didn’t get there on time. On over in John 12 when Jesus was in their home sometime later for a meal and Mary anointed Jesus feet and wiped them with her hair. Do you reckon she remembered the day that her heart was broken over her brother’s death? Now, here he was eating supper with Jesus after his resurrection. Many people had believed because they knew Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. Do you think maybe she might have looked back and thought that it was worth the heartache to see all of those people come to believe in Christ because of her brother’s death, burial, and resurrection?

I want to briefly mention one more from the bible. Samson is a man who messed up and betrayed the gift that God had given him. Thinking he knew what was best for him in his life, against the advice of his parents, he sought a wife from among the Philistines, an enemy of Israel. His wife wound up deceiving him and he betrayed the trusted secret source of his strength. The result was that he was mocked and ridiculed and had his eyes gouged out after being captured by the enemy he had defeated so many times before. His last valiant act was to ask God for his strength one more time and he pushed apart the pillars of the prison-house where they had placed him to make fun of him. I believe he had the hindsight to see his costly mistake but also had the faith to believe God could answer his prayer. God did and the house fell and he slew more in that last act than he had in all of his life. The hindsight came too late for him to live but God still proved himself even in Samson’s death.

What are you thinking right now? Are you remembering those times in your life when you didn’t understand what good could possibly come out of what you were going through? And now, to look back with hindsight and know that what God done for or through you in those times, it was worth it. You received blessings from the Lord in those times that you would have never appreciated like you do now if you had gotten them any other way but through that storm. To look back and see the big picture of what God was trying to accomplish through you and how much he was trying to bless you and draw you close to him, is a blessing that only comes from the experience of walking those dark roads and having to trust the Lord. Aren’t you glad that you submitted to the Lord, even though it may have been unwillingly, and lived, unlike Samson, to be able to look back and see God’s hand at work and appreciate the road he walked down with you? Hindsight: what a blessing it can be if we learn to trust God. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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