“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing.”
Isaiah 43: 18-19a (NIV)
We hear people say, “Live in the moment.” Usually, the person behind this phrase is advising us to focus on issues that affect our lives today, not something that happened 20, 30, or 40 years ago.
God tells the people to not relive in their minds the past of their nation. He had just told them to forget what happened to them in their past. Warren Wiersbe, a Christian writer gave me a very good usage of the word forget. The passage was Philippians 3:12-14. In this passage Paul tells us “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on. . . .” Mr. Wiersbe wrote that the meaning here of ‘forgetting’ is not to remove from our minds. Rather it is that we no longer allow the things of the past control us.
I believe we can apply the same usage to this passage as well.
One time, back in the early 1980’s, I witnessed a situation that caused a church to fire a choir director. The church was within its rights. This circumstance should not have happened among Christians. Eight years later, I saw this person at a church league athletic event, acting as a referee. I found myself remembering what had happened earlier. I shared this at a Wednesday night Prayer Meeting at the church I belonged to. One of the Lay Ministers reminded me, “God doesn’t remember eight years ago, why should we?”
I learned a lesson that night. I had to accept that that person may have sought God’s forgiveness. I had to forgive that person as well.
God tells people in exile He is doing a new thing. He makes a way for the Israelites where there wasn’t one before.
When we find ourselves under a burden, we need to ask God to make a new way out of the circumstance or, to put it another way, to allow good to come out of the bad situation.