“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
New things for the new year— why not ask God for HIS new things in our lives? Circumstances in 2020 may have caused us pain and trouble, but for us Christians, placing our lives in the hands of an eternal, triumphant Savior will always mean HOPE. A verse to embrace is this: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28. Doesn’t that increase our hope for the future? We can trust God to work out the GOOD in our lives despite what has happened to us.
Of course, we must ask ourselves: Do we love Him? Is our love for Him real? Romans 8:28 qualifies the God-activity of “in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (emphasis mine) upon those who truly love Him.
Why so? Love entails trust and openness. We must realize that God is interested not just in fixing only one phase of our lives. Like a lover who’s interested in loving the FULLNESS of his beloved, He’s interested in relationship and in becoming the God of our whole lives—in every season. This encompasses every area, every shattered dream, every smile, every tear. He’s interested in our present, past, and future. This means that whatever pain or sin or sickness or mistake in our lives from our yesterdays (or yesteryears) — is an area that God wants to heal us from.
God can turn our ashes into beauty. He wants to love our unlovable parts (while still hating sin!). He wants to deliver us from shame. And He always goes in the direction of His purpose.
And loving Him back means opening ourselves to His way in our lives. It means the confrontation of our brokenness so He mends us whole.
We may have different stories; different pasts, different challenges, different dreams… but one thing is clear when it comes to God’s purpose: Whatever our stories are—if we are His children, then we have been predestined to something BIG: to be conformed into Christ’s image. “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (Rom.8:29). This echoes the purpose of God even way back in the Garden of Eden when He said, “Let us make man in our image.” God has always wanted sons and daughters to reflect Him. He has always wanted to build the character of Jesus in us.
As we walk this earth, we should share Jesus in our lives, reflecting His mind and responses in such a way that people see Him truly operating in us!
Note: If we want easy lives, character cannot be strengthened. God never said He’d go the direction of easy or convenient with us. If Jesus’ road was one marked by suffering, then why do we think we’d be spared from suffering?
Yet in the midst of His suffering, Jesus always gave His disciples HOPE. Therefore, God will orchestrate NEW things even in the worst of our wildernesses to give us hope. He will wipe our tears and says, “See, I am doing a new thing!” Dare we believe it? He’s not done with us yet!
God’s never stagnant. He has always been a dynamic, creative God. He moves details in the background even when we don’t see it. He works, and He does it deeply in love with us.
May our faith arise this new year. We have a God who makes a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Let’s hope for the new things in our lives and ask, “Father, what are these new things?”
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.