“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. ” Isaiah 43:18-19 (ESV)
The blank pages of a journal headed by verses about hope seemed easy to fill when 2021 stretched out in front of me. After berating myself for not sticking to the consistent habit of writing the Word as resolved last year, followed by reluctantly giving myself grace upon grace for poor follow through (again), I turned to the next page in last year’s journal instead of opening the shiny new one waiting for me. Isaiah 43:18-19 was the verse waiting to be written when I flipped the page on January 1, as I contemplated leaving 2021 behind and looked forward to a new year ahead.
The scripture is not new to me. It was written on a chalkboard in my kitchen for months after downsizing from the house in which I raised my children to a condo nearby. Although I’ve grown to love my new space, the move represented the loss of a life I loved and the life I expected to have. It was one of many changes in the fearful preparation for an unknown future.
Most of you reading have also lived through loss and change over the past year. You know what it is to grieve the future you expected and worry about the unknown looming ahead.
The unexpected diagnosis.
The death of loved ones.
The rebellious child.
The aging and ailing parents.
Or maybe even the beautiful life going along as planned, but with children launching from the nest into a scary world waiting outside the safe haven of your home.
We all have seasons of wandering in a wilderness of disappointment. We all wonder what the future holds.
Isaiah spoke to the Jewish people, whose ancestors literally followed God through the wilderness while waiting to enter the promised land. He reminded them they had put their trust in people and things other than God (Isa 2:6-8) and told of the judgement and captivity to come because of their pride and idolatry (2: 9-21).
If I’m honest, I’m a lot like the people to whom Isaiah prophesied. I too often put my trust in people and things instead of God. I sometimes love people here on Earth more than the One who created them, or don’t love those who are precious in His eyes. I get sidetracked and make decisions or say words that don’t honor God or who I want to be. Despite what I say and truly believe. I’m guessing maybe you can relate.
The verse above gives me hope. It is one of many in Isaiah that remind me no matter the cause of my season of wilderness, the Lord is with me. Although the verses in Isaiah were written to the Jewish people, because I’m in a covenant relationship with the Lord, they also tell of His nature toward me.
Despite Isaiah beginning with chapters listing the ways in which the Lord would punish and humble His people who were not following Him, they are followed by verse after verse telling of the love of God and plan to save those who turn to Him (Isa 1:16-20). You. Me. And everyone else He created. (John 3:16).
The wilderness and unknown are scary. Remember these truths from the same chapter when you feel afraid or alone:
He calls you by name (Isa 43:1)
He claims you as one of His own (Isa 43:1)
He is with you even in the hardest of times (Isa 43:2)
You are precious in His eyes (Isa 43:4)
You are loved (Isa 43:4)
You have no need to fear (43:5)
You are created and made by Him for His glory (43:7
You are called by His name (43:7)
Your sins are blotted out and no longer remembered (43:25)
Wherever you are in your season of wilderness, whatever the cause, God has the power to make all things new. He is making a way where you see no path and providing living water when you have none. Trust the One who knows your name to be with you and help you through whatever you are facing. And most of all, remember no matter what the world around you says or does, you are who God says you are. Deeply loved.
Turn to Him.
Let go of and forget the things in the past that can’t be changed.
Forgive others and yourself.
Put your faith and reliance in Him over everyone and everything else.
Do not fear.
Watch and be thankful for the new thing God is making and the way He is providing.
Trust and follow Him all the way to the promised land.
When you lay your head on the pillow tonight, rest easy in the knowledge God is making a way.