When… You Remember the Worst of the Past
“Thus says the LORD, Who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters… I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:16,17
What God did in the past was to separate the waters of the Red Sea so the slaves of Egypt could leave their captivity and thus begin their Exodus journey home. It was a great deliverance. It was a pivotal moment in Israel’s history. They could always say, “God did that for us!”
But now they weren’t stuck on the wrong side of a large body of water. Now they were not being threatened by Pharaoh’s chariots coming from behind. Now they were stuck in the middle of Babylon (Iraq). They were living on the banks of the Tigress and Euphrates rivers. “By the rivers of Babylon—there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion.” (Psalm 137:1) There was a great desert expanse between them and home. Parting the waters wouldn’t make a difference to them. That was the past, so they wept. What chance was there that God would be able to set them free now?
As they wept, Isaiah spoke to their despair. He spoke a word of promise and hope. The “new thing” God would do would be to make the desert flow with water. The mountains made straight, every valley made smooth. (Isaiah 40:4) There would be a “way” in the desert! God would make a way home for them. And God did.
I visited a man stuck in the despair of another failure to “stay on the wagon.” He had tried and tried but another failure left him alone in the hospital defined by his “weakness of will.” As we talked, he told me he had finally come to realized he needed a “new way” out of bondage, through this wilderness. “I know God is that new way,” he said. We agreed he would make no new promises as if he could keep them. We prayed that God would lead him, guide him, navigate a new way and give him a new will to make health possible.