I'm not tempted to pretend that 2020 never happened but I do feel the draw of deciding to write-off 2020, like a bad investment or broken asset. I could just admit that 2020 was pretty terrible, try not to dwell on it too much and get on with 2021. There is still six weeks to go of 2020 but it's tempting just to try and get on with 2021 right now. I can't change the calendar and make 2021 come any faster, but I can at least get on with planning 2021.
Yet one idea keeps circling around my head.
2020 will not be wasted.
My friend and mentor when I was at university was the first person who repeated this idea to me, over and over again, until the words had sunk into my brain, although it certainly wasn't original to her and she didn't claim that it was. God does not waste experiences, she said, as I processed some difficult things that had happened. And over the last ten years, it's a thought that has stuck with me.
God does not waste experiences.
"In all things, God works for the good of those who love him" (Romans 8:28). Or, to rephrase, God has worked, and is working, for the good of his children in every part of their lives. There is no part of our lives that is redundant in the long, slow process of God conforming us to the image of his Son. There is no situation that God cannot and does not use.
If we could see our lives from a bird's eye view, there would be no section that we could trim a little bit off for a more streamlined sanctification. If we could see how God is weaving and pulling together the strands of our days and weeks and months, there would not be one useless thread to pick out.
This goes against our normal thinking. We look at events in our lives and we cannot comprehend how God could pull anything out of value out of them. I've looked at the mismatch between my hopes for 2020 and the reality; from a human perspective, I'm at a loss to figure out how much of this year could be anything but a waste.
But 2020 will not be wasted because God does not waste experiences. If you have been united to Christ, then there is not one moment of 2020 that you can describe as worthless. The mundane, the disappointing, the hard, the boring, the encouraging, the heartbreaking - God won't squander a second of it. We may not know what good God will bring from 2020 but we can trust our heavenly Father to use it for his glory and to make us more like Christ.
Of all the adjectives that we could use to describe 2020, it has not been a waste of a year.