“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
The Montreal Canadiens are the most successful franchise in NHL history, with 24 Stanley Cup championships. They are so successful that amongst French-speaking Canadians they are known as “Les Glorieux” (the glorious ones). In fact, amongst North American professional sports franchises, the only one that has won more championships is the New York Yankees (27 World Series titles). However, the Canadiens’ last Stanley Cup victory was in 1993, almost 30 years ago.
It can be easy for any of us to spend time focusing on our past victories and defining ourselves by our greatest accomplishments. It’s what I like to call the “Uncle Rico Mentality” based on the character in the 2004 comedy film, “Napoleon Dynamite.” In the movie, Napoleon’s Uncle Rico spends the whole time longing for his glory days of high school football, when he was the backup in the Idaho state championship game. He even purchases a “time machine” online to try and get back to those days. As silly as Uncle Rico comes across in the movie, I’m betting a few of us — if we’re honest — can say we’ve had our own times when we wish we could go back to our “glory days.”
The nation of Israel was no different in the Old Testament. The people longed for their glory days under the rule of King David and King Solomon. They reflected on the days of Moses, when God freed them from bondage and walked with them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar fire by night (Exodus 13:21).
Isaiah was a prophet during a particularly brutal time. He witnessed a civil war between the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah, as well as the fall of Israel to the Assyrians. Isaiah even spoke of events that would happen after his time on earth, including the Babylonian exile of Judah. However, in Isaiah 43:14-21, the prophet reminds Judah of the faithfulness of the Lord to His covenant, so that they won’t lose hope. Isaiah does this in the following way:
— He assures them the Lord will use another army to push out the Babylonians for Israel’s sake (v. 14).
— He reminds the Israelites of God’s past faithfulness (v. 15-17).
— He assures them the Lord’s best works are yet to come (v. 18-21).
Right now, the whole world is in a period of transition, including God’s Church. For many in the Church, this has been a season of desolation. Church attendance has been declining for years, but on average, attendance is down approximately 6% since the pandemic began. It can feel like God has abandoned us and that the North American Church’s best days are behind it.
If you are feeling lost or discouraged in your faith, you can take hope, knowing we serve a faithful God. In fact, if you are in a season of desolation, I would encourage you to meditate on Isaiah 43:14-21. As you do, reflect on the following:
— God’s promise of His people’s victory through Christ’s sacrifice for our sins.
— The victories God has revealed to you in the past.
— God’s current movements.
No matter what you’re going through or what you’re transitioning into, you can trust that God is with you no matter what, because of Jesus’ loving sacrifice on the cross. When feelings of despair start to creep in, take time to reflect on your journey with Him and on His promises given through His Word.
If you’re a sports fan, you may not have assurance of victory for your team in the upcoming season, but you can be assured of victory in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:28) and that His best is yet to come.
— Andrew Pepper, Halifax Mooseheads chaplain
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