201. Negative Event, Positive Interpretation

201. Negative Event, Positive Interpretation

2020 is almost coming to an end. The Pandemic we experienced this year will be remembered in the future, along with 9/11, iPhone, and social media, as the event significantly changed the way people think and behave.

As we reflect on 2020, I believe there are two main groups of people: Those who interpret the Pandemic as positive and those who see it as negative.

A pandemic is undoubtedly a negative event. However, negative event doesn’t require negative interpretation. In fact, our interpretation often determines our experience of the event.

For example, Joseph was sold as a slave by his brothers to Egypt (indeed a negative and traumatic experience!) But when he met his brothers after becoming a powerful person in Egypt, instead of punishing them, he said, “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…”. (Genesis 50:20) Though the event that happened to him was negative, he interpreted as positive and even redemptive.

I also began to think about what positives God has brought in my life through this event. Despite many things I didn’t get to do due to the Pandemic, I am grateful for more reflection, Jennifer not having to commute anymore and more time with family.

We do not know what to expect in the year 2021. Some people might be desperate to return to normalcy. But there is no guarantee that it will happen next year, despite the distribution of vaccines. What is certain is how we interpret next year will determine our experience of it.

Some people are skeptical about positive interpretation as they see it as a “self-fulfilling prophecy.” It could be if it is based on mere optimism. But for Christians, it is the expression of our faith in God “who works all things together for the good of those who love God.” (Romans 8:28) Though an event may look negative for now, we do not have the perspective to see how it will play out in the future. If God could bring our redemption through the event of the cross, we should at least question our interpretation when things look bleak at the moment, and we are tempted to call it “negative.”