Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? (Isaiah 43:19a ESV)
A New Year… new beginnings….a chance to start fresh….a new calendar…new agenda….new goals & resolutions….new hopes!
Is that the sense you get with the beginning of a New Year? Do you see the New Year as another opportunity to get it right?
As a community of Christians, we know in our heads that God gives us that opportunity every day because His Word tells us so. Lamentations 3:22-23 says that "His steadfast love never fails and His mercies are new every morning; great is His faithfulness.” But in our hearts, it is often difficult to translate that head knowledge into a heart transformation. After all, we have so many things that veil our ability to see the “new thing”.
I want to challenge you to let this be the year that you begin the process of transforming your heart. Let this be the year that you turn the page and truly begin a new chapter in your life. Determine to stop re-reading and rehearsing the pain of yesterday and step into the “new” that God has prepared for you.
Stepping into the new takes effort and perseverance but the end results are so worthwhile. Before we get to verses 22 and 23 of Lamentations 3, the writer was remembering his “affliction and gall”; his soul was “bowed down”. He was not in a very good place. Here is what it says in the NIV – Lamentations 3:19-20 “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.”
Pay attention to the breakthrough that occurs when he makes this observation in verse 21- “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope…”
It’s as if the writer had a “But wait…” moment that caused him to cast his eyes on something else. It’s like seeing the same picture but through different lenses – through the lens of hope. (Ref: Romans 8:24-25)
Don’t ever doubt that God doesn’t understand life gets tough at times but He wants us to know that it doesn’t have to end that way; there are new mercies every morning.
And He made sure that He provided us with sufficient proof of that. The Bible is filled with people who turned the page and took hold of a “new thing” in their otherwise troubled lives.
Here are a few of the women who didn’t start out great but whose lives ended up having significant impact:
- Ruth lost her family, moved to a land where she was considered an outsider, but was brave enough to take up the challenge to start over and encourage someone else in the process. Read Ruth’s story in the four short chapters of the Book in her name (Ruth 1-4).
- Esther was a beautiful young woman who “auditioned” to be queen, married a foreigner against her religious beliefs but had the courage to act on behalf of her people risking her life in the process. The Book of Esther is also a short book and is a fascinating read (Esther 1-10).
- Another Old Testament woman worth reading about is Rahab, the prostitute. Mentioned as such throughout all her references in the Bible, Rahab had the fortitude to hide the spies, facilitating their escape and securing her family’s safety at a later date. She may not have started out in a very promising way but she ended up in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:5) and is referenced in the “Hall of Fame of Faith” chapter Hebrews 11: 31. Read her story in Joshua 2-6.
- Mary Magdalene is a New Testament woman who had a troubled beginning, was freed from demonic spirits (Luke 8:2) , had such a dramatic change in her life that she was one of the women named to be at Jesus’ side ministering to Him as He was dying for our sins (Matthew 27:55-57 & John 19:25), and the one to whom He first revealed Himself upon His resurrection (John 20:11-14).
I believe that God was very purposeful when He allowed all these stories in the Bible of real people like you and me so that we can more easily relate to them. It is clear that He wants to use us in our areas of brokenness to help others who may be similarly broken. He desires for us to use those tough seasons in our lives as our training to share the lessons we learned from them with others. This is why Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 that we are comforted so that (don’t miss those two little words) we can comfort others. We cannot allow a “bad” chapter (or two) in our lives to define the entire book which is our life. Let’s not allow a negative experience to become a life sentence.
That’s why I say, if a season has let you go; you need to let go of it and turn the page.
Embrace the new that God is calling you to experience. It is not easy – it wasn’t for those in Old Testament time – Isaiah 43:19 says, “Do you not see it?” This suggests that this “new thing” was not immediately obvious to the people.
How can you turn the page in your own life?
Surrender your heart and renew your mind. (Job 11:13-20, Ephesians 4:23-24) Then step out in faith and do something.
Start somewhere; your new page may involve helping someone else turn their page. Ask God to show you.
I’m convinced that you are one page away from some new things happening! Do you not see it?
A couple years ago, Mercy Me released a CD, “Welcome to the New”; I think this is a fitting way to introduce 2017. Enjoy.
Yolande Knight – firstname.lastname@example.org