"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. The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.
Isaiah 43:18-21 (NIV)
In this passage, Isaiah is inspired by God to announce to the nation of Israel that they are to turn back to God and that means that, in response, God will restore the nation. However, when Israel hears this proclamation, they don’t rejoice. They fear that Babylon may be too strong. But, regardless of how strong Babylon may appear to be, they are absolutely no threat to God.
God is so grace giving that He tells Isaiah to prophesy to the Israelites that He is not only going to set them free, but He is going to redeem their time of captivity. This dry season will be appreciated for what it helped establish in Israel along with the lessons and truths that it taught them.
For us, it is often similar. We may feel as though we are walking through a desolate wilderness where there are no clear pathways. In this place our positive thoughts are constantly ambushed by negative ones until we feel emotionally dehydrated. While we may not have chosen to walk through a dry season, inevitably a dry season will choose each one of us.
This text even teaches us that God purposes dry seasons for spiritual development. The struggle that comes with a dry season will purge, prune, and grow us in ways that easy pathways could never have. Our attention would not be as sharp if we never had to do time in the dry season. When we go through dry seasons, God grabs our attention and gets us to offer to Him areas of our life that fresh, consistent waterways and cleared-out paths never gave us access to.
These seasons, whether we like it or not, may mandate that money gets tight, isolation occurs, and stagnation and restlessness set in. Why? Because all of these challenge our faith, and faith is not faith unless it is challenged.
We hope that these dry seasons won’t last, and we try to encourage ourselves that there must be a path through this wilderness. What Isaiah prophesied shows us that there is an end. As we journey through dry seasons, the journey produces “water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
When we see the road in the wilderness and some water in the desert, we know that our dry season is coming to an end. God will bring the impossible into our situations and change the things that we thought were permanent. This only comes about when we stand in the gap with surrender and recognize the changeless, divine power of God.