Can it have looked any more desolate in Moses’ day than it does today?
The crushing weight of aloneness in this vast, parched wasteland hit me hard during the few hours I spent there less than three months ago. Thinking of the Israelites wandering through the Wilderness of Tzin for 40 years is more than I can comprehend. Its terrain sends you down into every hard and lonely place you’ve ever been. And the immensity of the rocky landscape gives no hint of an escape route.
The Wilderness is isolation in the biggest sense of the word.
So this is the image that came to mind—and all of those feelings with it—when I opened a recent email cancelling yet another event due to COVID-19. The note began with the prophet Isaiah quoting God Himself, who was referencing the very wilderness where I stood such a short time ago…and where we stand right now–in an uncertain and empty stretch of time. Waiting.
What a relief to hear the excitement in God’s voice as He spoke through Isaiah:
Isaiah 43:19: “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.”
I am one of those who believes that there is a purpose behind the pandemic. I believe that God is good, and that He will use whatever means necessary to move us out of our complacency, to turn us back to Him.
But even as a solid believer, I still get down about how things are playing out.
So what joy to hear God telling us to just hold on–to wait, and to watch what He will do with the mess we are in. Our God, the Creator of everything, the One who knows and loves each and every one of us dearly, is saying, “Hey! Don’t despair. Don’t you know I’ve got this?!” In my mind, it’s kind of an enthusiastic exclamation of His command to “Fear not.”
He’s already begun. Can’t you see it?
And just as has happened since the beginning of time, as we cry out to Him, He will hear and deliver us—this time through the new wilderness of COVID-19. He’s turning our world upside down, making life-giving water burst forth in the desert, creating clear paths for us through the parched wasteland.
I have to backtrack one verse to Isaiah 43:18. God had just been reminding people of His past miraculous rescues from the Babylonians and the Egyptians, and then says this:
“But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.”
I love that! And I can’t wait to see what happens next. Meanwhile, I’m covered in peace today, assured once again that this particular wilderness we’re in was no accident–that God has a purpose for it and that it is good.
Father, we’re quickly moving into the phase of this thing where it’s hitting home for us right here in our own safe little communities. It’s no longer something “out there:” People we know are being diagnosed with COVID-19.
It’s not going to pass me by, I know that. While I pray that you will spare the ones I love most, I have absolute confidence that You know what You’re doing, and that You will do what is in their eternal best interests, regardless of what it takes to get there. I know that You are using this time to bring people, including mine, to You, and I am so very grateful that Your merciful will is at work in all of this.
I will continue to pray for another miraculous rescue, one that people simply can’t deny. Until then, I wait with renewed strength and excitement to see what You are going to do next—that “something new” that You have already begun. Thank You for hearing our prayers, and for loving us enough to make a pathway through the wilderness and create rivers in this dry wasteland. Amen.