Not too long ago we celebrated the start of a New Year. If you’re like many Americans, you might have even created New Year’s resolutions which, also like many Americans, few of us keep. However, while we are busy making and breaking resolutions, God remains constant and ready to do a “new thing” in our lives.
“I am doing a new thing! Even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19
It’s easy to get excited when we first read this verse; God wants to do something new in our lives, something great! Maybe it’s a new job, finally meeting the man or woman you’ll marry, or improved health. We can all think of areas in our life where we pray God will change things up for the better.
But before we get to that, let’s zoom out and take a look at where this verse fits in historically.
At this time the people of Judah are being held captive in Babylon after King Nebuchadnezzar captured them. To further put things into context, it was during this time that Daniel refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar and was throw into the lion’s den. It is believed the people of Judah were held for around 70 years.
Let’s just stop there a moment.
Imagine being displaced from your home not just for a year but 70 years. You’ve lost everything.You’re not allowed to worship freely. You’re homesick. Your children are growing up in a foreign world with only stories to hear how life once was. It’s fair to say the people of Judah were ready for a “new thing.”
That’s when God comes in, as He promised He would, and says “forget what happened in the past! I am now doing something new and different.” After 70 years in captivity He was promising a way out. Can you imagine what experiencing this must have felt like? After 70 years they would finally be free.
How can we take this biblical story and use it to strengthen our faith? Well, let’s look at this story in its full context again.
God allowed the people of Judah to be taken captive. They endured hardships. But they also had a lot of victories and triumphs. To all that – God said in verse Isaiah 42:18: Forget the former things. Let go of the past.
1. Forget former things. Let go of the past.
It is easy to see God work wonders in our lives, and then hope that sustains us for the future. But it doesn’t. His blessings and triumphs serve as a reminder of what He can do, but they will not sustain our faith. The people of Judah witnessed many triumphs – including the exile from Egypt. Perhaps you’ve witnessed great miracles, too.
Four years ago I was blessed with a job I didn’t think I deserved. A year ago I unexpectedly lost that job. But I couldn’t let my faith suffer because of it. I couldn’t let the first job offer keep me from growing in my faith just because God blessed me with a job, nor could I let losing that job cause my faith to suffer. While the past can be good or painful, we cannot live there. If we’re constantly looking back we will not be able to see where we are going. We all need to constantly renew our mind and spirit in Christ Jesus.
What former things in your past do you need to forget? What failures or tragedies do you need to stop dwelling on?
2. Let God turn your deserts into rivers.
Similarly, we’ve all experienced low times, or droughts in our lives. Perhaps you’re out of a job, are frustrated that you’re still single, dealing with a debilitating disease, having relationship problems, or live far away from home like the Israelites. Since I live in D.C. but my family is in Buffalo, I can relate to them on that one.
What deserts in your life do you feel are drying up your spiritual growth? Identify them and give them to God to make rivers. How?
3. Look for the new thing.
Don’t just create a vision for your life and ask God to bless it. Ask God for His vision for your life and then follow it.
God told the people of Judah that His vision included releasing them from captivity, making their paths clear in the desert, turning wasteland to rivers, and seeing them safely home. Nothing is wasted with God and everything can be redeemed. Health can be restored. Relationships can be mended. New jobs can be found. That’s not to say God will always fix every problem, but He has the ability to turn everything on its head – in a good way.
In whatever area in your life you need refreshment or something new, ask God for His vision.
Now, let’s look at the rest of the passage.
Isaiah 20 & 21:
The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
and streams in the desert,
to give drink to my people my chosen,
the people I formed for myself
that they may proclaim my praise.”
4. Praise God for this new thing He is doing.
A new prayer technique I’ve been using lately is to thank God for his answer even before I receive it. He is a good and loving Father and no matter how scary this new thing can look, He has a wonderful plan and we should praise Him for it. God takes care of His people, providing water in our deserts. Let’s praise Him today for His new thing He is doing in our lives!
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