Isaiah 43:18-21 “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. The wild beasts will honour me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.
The beginning of a new year always gets me thinking about all that lies ahead. It carries such a sense of hope for change and newness. It’s almost as if the year is like a big white canvas, ready to be painted with new experiences, new places, new opportunities, new friends, and new encounters with God.
However, perhaps for many of us, the beginning of a new year doesn’t carry this sense of hope for newness. Perhaps there are things from the year just gone that we are still carrying around with us: disappointments, hurts, mistakes, failures, losses…
Dear friend, although it is not wrong for us to be aware of all of these things, staying stuck in the past can keep us from the new thing that God wants to do in our lives.
It is not our Lord’s desire that we stay stuck in the past, in regret, or in pain. He IS the God of the new thing, and He wants to do a new thing in YOUR life this year.
So, how do we press on to grab a hold of this new thing?
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.”
The first step to stepping into God’s new thing is to forget the past. But what exactly are we to forget?
In Isaiah 43:16-17, Isaiah instructed the people of Israel to remember all that God had done for them in splitting the Red Sea. But then there is a switch in verse 18 where they are told to forget the former things.
The Israelites were to remember the past in terms of what God had done for them. They were to remember His mighty deeds and to remember who He was to them.
However, they were to forget their past – their past sin, disobedience, and discouragements.
Dear friend, all our pasts are full of victories and failures, and the latter can either hinder us or help us. It is not profitable for us to dwell on our past failures or mistakes, allowing them to cause us to doubt, to fear, or to keep us trapped from moving forward.
But our past failures can help us if we seek to grow and to learn from them. When we do this, and then when we forget them, then we can focus on the new thing that God wants to do in us!
It is not enough for us to simply forget the past to embrace the new. We must also be willing to SEE what it is that God wants to do.
This is active seeing, dear friend! We can’t just traipse through life looking but not really seeing.
Are our eyes open to what God’s about to do? Are we able to perceive what He’s up to? Are we alert to Him? Are we expectant for Him to move?
We must train our spiritual eyes to see what God has on the horizon; and we do this by spending time communicating with God through prayer, as well as choosing to cling to His promises.
In Isaiah 43:19, God says, “I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Sounds impossible, right? Not for our God. Seeing the new thing requires that we believe in God’s word, even if it seems ridiculous and impossible. It requires that we trust Him and choose to look beyond what we currently see.
Stacey Pardoe says it like this, “God calls His people to trust in what is not yet seen. Though a desert is before them, He is preparing to send a river of deliverance. We can cling to that same promise.”
Our lives might look exactly the same as they did last year. But we have the God of newness on our side! Let us no longer hold onto the past, dear friend. Let’s release it into the hands of our loving God and move fully into the newness He has for us in 2023.
Is there anything from the past that you are holding onto? Release it to God and ask Him to help you to grow and to learn from it.
- A failure.
- A disappointment.
- A loss.
I thank You that You are a God of the new thing. You do not wish for me to stay stuck in my past failures, regrets, or disappointments. Rather, You long for me to embrace the new thing that You want to do in my life.
Lord, please help me to release the past into Your hands. I give to You all of the pain, all of the grief, all of the fear, all of the hurt, knowing that I am safe in Your arms.
Help me to learn and to grow from the past, but help me also to see what lies ahead. Holy Spirit, I pray that You would fill me with a sense of hope again. Hope that this year can be better and filled with Your goodness and glory. Open my eyes to see what it is You’re doing, not just in me, but through me, and through others around me. I want to be so in step with You this year, Lord. Draw me close to Your side.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
Pray for someone you know who feels discouraged or despondent about this new year. Pray for God to be their hope. Pray for all fear to leave in Jesus’ name. Pray that God would move powerfully in their life this year.