In many ways, 2020 was a lost year, a great, gaping void between 2019 and 2021. As the months unfolded, loss mounted upon loss: weddings postponed, graduations held via Zoom, professional projects left unfulfilled, churches emptied, businesses shuttered. But 2020 proved even more relentless. Racial tensions reached a fever pitch. Political unrest followed. Our civil institutions strained. All the while the virus raged, taking no notice of our crisis of justice. The sick and the dying continued to stream into hospitals. Our healthcare system threatened to buckle under the stress.
What do we make of it all? The collective mood of the nation has been chaotic: anger, confusion, uncertainty, powerlessness, cynicism, and fear. What we are coming to realize now is that it was all an expression of grief. We have been mourning — we are mourning still — even if we didn’t quite realize it in the moment. Grief is always a response to a kind of death, and 2020 brought death of every kind. We are still reeling.
Yet, for the people of God, death never has the last word, no matter how loudly it shouts and fumes.
What does it mean to be Resurrection people at a time such as this? There are no easy answers; there are many questions that will remain unresolved this side of paradise.
“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” What is Paul trying to tell us here? At the very least, he is suggesting that the doctrine of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ holds out hope that while we have lost much, all is not lost.
Why did all this happen? How will we ever recover the things we’ve lost in 2020? How long will this last? Paul doesn’t answer these questions, exactly, but he does tell us that the truest and most ultimate meaning of our lives is being held secure within God’s own life. This challenges us to change our frame of mind when it comes to grieving what we’ve lost in 2020. What if these things are not really lost forever, but rather “hidden with Christ in God”? What if God intends somehow to transfigure our pain so that it will one day appear in glory?
Nothing is lost that won’t be found. But for now, we wait.
What unresolved wounds are you still carrying from the past year? List those out and offer those to the LORD.
Read More From the 2020 Annual Report
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This post was published June 2, 2021
Ryan serves as theologian-in-residence for Denver Institute for Faith & Work, where he writes and teaches on the integration of faith and work. Alongside his work with Denver Institute, Ryan is an instructor in the Division of Christian Thought at Denver Seminary, where he teaches theology and the history of Christianity, and associate pastor at Foothills Fellowship Church in Littleton. He holds a Th.M. in ecclesiastical history and a Ph.D. in theology from the University of Edinburgh. He has published in the areas of inter-religious dialogue, historical theology, and Christian ethics. Ryan lives with his wife, Adrienne, and their daughter in Lakewood. Most importantly, Ryan is a diehard fan of the Denver Nuggets—and he liked them even when they were terrible.