“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.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)
As we enter our third year under the stress and strain of the COVID-19 pandemic, this passage from Isaiah might feel completely disconnected from our present reality.
After all, it seems as if the pandemic has dragged on forever. It’s exhausting to see case numbers tick up day after day; to participate in the same arguments about masks and mandates, now so well-worn we could probably defend our position in our sleep; to face yet another day of Zoom meetings and frustration with our neighbors (regardless of where in the debate we happen to land); and the grief of yet another round of variants and infection.
It can be tempting to assume that nothing has changed, that even though we turned the page on a new year just a couple of weeks ago, nothing new is on the horizon. What “new thing” can we possibly expect from God when everything around us feels so agonizingly, mind-numbingly familiar?
Isaiah has a word for the weary. In this passage, Isaiah asks us if we’re able to “perceive” the new thing that God is doing. It’s an invitation to open our eyes, to look around, to wonder.
Where is God doing something new in your life?
Maybe it’s in a friendship, an opportunity, a conversation, an insight, a surprise. Maybe it’s in your familiar routine or in the midst of the interruptions and pauses which have become the norm. Maybe it’s somewhere you least expect it.
Isaiah has a word for the weary. In the midst of everything that’s going on around us, God is continually making and re-making our lives, our communities, and our world. Do you not perceive it?
Perhaps especially when we can’t see where God is at work, we live in trust of God’s promise to be with each of us in the traumas and heartaches of this time. God will have the last word and it is a word for the weary—of making all things new.
Blessings and hope for the new year!
Robin J. Steinke, President