From Isaiah 43:16; 18-19:
This is what the Lord says – he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
Israel was constantly harassed by the peoples around them, and they were always at war against each other. There was lots of suffering due to the wars and instabilities. One thing was certain for Israel: God was present with them, even in the midst of despair. In this Bible verse, God is encouraging Israel not to dwell on the past but look into the future and the new possibilities God has for them. “Do you not see it?”
The year 2020 is definitely going down in history! How can we forget it, right?
Those of us who lived through this pandemic and are still alive in this body can tell the stories of their losses and pain.
Unfortunately, there are those who will deny people suffered and died from a virus called COVID-19 because, of course, it was just a “hoax.” Hard for me to believe my wife Daniele’s father died from a hoax on December 12th and was rushed to be buried on December 13 to avoid the spreading of the virus. My wife, daughters and I had COVID-19 in September/October and it was really tough. I can still feel the lingering effects of the disease in my own body. Some relatives in Brazil had to be in the hospital for many days because of the virus. I’ve seen and heard our church people in their personal struggles in 2020 as well.
Reading from Isaiah today, God called my attention to the verses about forgetting “the former things” and to look at the “former things” in a different way.
Maybe, if we reinterpret that passage for our days, God may be talking about all the pain and losses we all had in 2020.
However, in addition to that, I believe God is inviting us also to pay attention to the “former way” God has been present with us through it all and to see His hand at work in our midst this past year. We hear God saying, “You’ve seen me at work in the midst of your pain and suffering. You’ve seen how present I was with you, how I gave you strength, how you saw the seemingly impossible happen, how I blessed you with what you needed… that was big and amazing, right? Well, wait until you see what I am about to do…”
God does not want us to forget the pain and sufferings of the past. God does not want us to turn our backs on what has been and will be part of our history. But God does want us not to dwell on them.
Furthermore, God wants us to be able to see and acknowledge His good, big and amazing presence in the bad things that happened to us in 2020 but also, even more, to expect greater and new things from the Lord in 2021, for God is with us!
The question is: Can you see it?
Blessings to you in 2021!
Pastor Ed Volfe