by Gaby Keim, Changemaker Team Lead
With a very unpredictable year behind us, we step forward into 2022. We may find ourselves yet again in the unpredictability, but we can have confidence that God is about to do something new just as he has done for generations before. What could that “something new” be for you in 2022?
Making a Way
2021 began the same way it ended: with a surge in the pandemic. With all that has come in the past year, there is a wide range of emotions each of us are met with.
Youth tutors helped children and youth navigate the complexity of e-learning at the beginning of 2021 in isolating times. English tutors found innovative ways to help students learn English virtually against seemingly impossible odds. Countless legal aid appointments were completed providing hope where it felt hopeless. And when tragedy struck in Afghanistan, so many World Relief partners came alongside newly arriving individuals and families setting up apartments for people to call their new home. There was a lot to navigate.
In such a chaotic and overwhelming year, I am drawn back to how chaotic and overwhelming it must have been for Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. When word reached Pharaoh and his officials that the Israelites had fled, he changed his mind and pursued them, eventually catching up.
The Israelites cried out for deliverance from the Egyptians, and God met them in a very tangible way. He called upon Moses to raise his hands, and the Red Sea parted for them to walk through.
Through the prophet Isaiah, God looks back upon this moment in history:
I am the Lord who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea, I called forth the mighty army of Egypt with all its chariots and horses. I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned, their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick.Isaiah 43:16-17 NLT
God looks back to not only recount how he has been there for the Israelites, but to show how he will always be there for his people.
It makes me think about how he made a way in 2021 within the hardship, chaos, and unpredictability. What waters did God part for you walk through this past year?
Created for a New Work
Isaiah served as God’s mouthpiece to the Israelites and called them beyond what had already happened in human history. He spoke the direct words of God:
But forget all that – it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.Isaiah 43:18-19 NLT
I attend a church plant and our new space is currently undergoing renovations. With that, we held our Christmas service at a church who graciously offered their space to us in the neighborhood. When I walked into the church, I was struck by how the ceilings soared, and stained glass stretched high. Church architecture has historically been designed to draw our eyes and hearts upward to Jesus Christ. Likewise in this passage, God is calling us to direct our eyes upward.
With the past year being anything but ordinary, the prophet Isaiah’s words provide us hope. His words tell us that even when circumstances seem bleak, God is making a pathway through the wilderness; and even when situations seem dry and difficult, God is creating rivers that flow.
As we enter into the new year, where do you need to look up to see Christ?
Seeing it Through for Eternity
Have you thought about how coming into a new year the picture we have on our minds is the birth of Christ? God bending himself to us, coming in human form as a baby, serves as a tangible reminder that God is at work. He came to meet with us and be with us.
And this is what God tells us next through Isaiah:
The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and the owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make them rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed. I have made Israel for myself, and they will someday honor me before the whole world.Isaiah 43:20-21 NLT
God has yet to give up on his people and he has no plans to. As we step into a new year, we have a surefooted faith that God will be with us. He will be with us as we welcome hundreds of refugees and immigrants to Chicagoland. Furthermore, he will work in us to transform our heart, mind, and body to be more like him so we are ready to welcome just as he has welcomed us.
Isaiah tells us that refreshing is coming. Where do you need refreshment, so you can walk into the “something new” God has for you in 2022?
A New Year Prayer for You
God, thank you for helping us to make it through this difficult year. Thank you that you’ve carried us through the uncertainty of deep waters, through the flames of trials, and through the pain of hard losses. We are constantly aware of how much we need you, your grace, your strength, your power working through even the toughest days.
Thank you for your reminder that both in seasons of celebration and in seasons of brokenness, you are still with us. For you never leave us. Thank you for your powerful presence in our lives, that we can be assured your heart is towards us, your eyes are over us, and your ears are open to our prayers.
As we begin a new year, we choose to press in close to you and keep you first in our hearts and lives. Without you, we would surely fail, but with you, there is great hope. Thank you for your healing power, thank you for bringing us into this new season up ahead. We look forward to all that you still have in store. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.