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  • Writer's pictureElpidio Pezzella

Between the Past and the Future

Updated: Jan 17

“Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old."

(Isaiah 43:18 NKJV)

Remembering the past is an indispensable point for building the present and projecting into a somewhat better future. Not forgetting mistakes made remains wise advice for all generations. All the more so now that we are approaching Memorial Day. Scripture itself exhorts us to draw from the experiences of others: "Remember the days of old, Consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you;  Your elders, and they will tell you" (Deuteronomy 32:7). Here then, remembering the works of the Lord, who with a mighty hand and outstretched arm had delivered the people, was imperative for Israel. Preserving and nurturing the memory of divine wonders, from generation to generation, would have stimulated unconditional trust in the LORD on the part of every Israelite. Instead, Isaiah's text seems to preempt a well-known Neapolitan song and its "let us forget the past," thus going in the opposite direction. Possible? Rather, the prophet Isaiah wants the people not to be lost nostalgically in the memory of the past, to let go in the regret of what has been, running away from a present that is indeed difficult, such as the Babylonian captivity, but to be faced without stifling hope in tomorrow.


I am reminded of the cover of my book "I Believe in Miracles," where a parched and cracked soil is depicted, and there a sprout finds life and sprouts. An exhortation to read the present, catching the tangible signs of God's being present and near. So to recognize that He is always at work in our little story, even when it treads the path of disappointment, amid fears and uncertainties, sensing defeat, in the hypothetical belief that we have been abandoned or forgotten. Then not to remember nostalgically, almost to let go, but to be open to the possibility that what has been can be repeated and renewed in the present. The text opens to the future. In fact, it continues like this, "Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert" (v. 19). Suddenly the heart beats again, the eyes open wide to the wonder of what is about to happen. As spring shoots color the earth with new hope, so trust in the Lord rekindles the will to live, beyond the fragility of each person's existence. God is clear: He does a new work. The bad experiences and adverse situations of the past need no longer be considered. Faith looks ahead and never settles down. Even if you see nothing now, know that it is about to sprout. Suddenly you will see it sprout. This is faith having to do with "the substance of things hoped for" and " the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1).


If any hesitation lingers, He presses on and adds, "I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert". This word should make us exult, gasp, to the point of jolting, such is the power it releases. In your desert, just what you are experiencing now, you are not alone. If you cannot find your way out, He has promised to make a way in the desert. If barrenness is reaching your heart, in the grip of desolation, He has promised rivers in solitude. The only response we can make to the sufferings, the dramatic situations that envelop us and affect us is an act of trust that transcends human existence, "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known" (1 Corinthians 13:12). Miracles happen, whether you believe it or not. And so many times they are there in front of us, and we fail to see them. Do not put limits on God's supernatural action. Indeed, remain faithful to Scripture when it declares that "nothing is impossible to God" (Luke 1:37). Do not hesitate then! Even if your eye sees nothing yet on the horizon, as it did for the prophet Elisha's servant, God remains "Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20).


 


Weekly Bible Reading Plan # 03


January 15, Genesis 36-38; Matthew 10:21-42

January 16, Genesis 39-40; Matthew 11

January 17, Genesis 41-42; Matthew 12:1-23

January 18, Genesis 43-45; Matthew 12:24-50

January 19, Genesis 46-48; Matthew 13:1-30

January 20, Genesis 49-50; Matthew 13:31-58

January 21, Exodus 1-3; Matthew 14:1-21


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