Living Above Your Circumstances When God Is Doing a New Thing
God Is Doing a New Thing
Cheryl’s neurologist retired and she had to find a new doctor. At first, the change upset her, since she’d been seeing the same physician for years and starting over with a new doctor when you deal with a chronic condition is difficult. But her husband encouraged her to keep an open mind and trust God’s leading.
A friend sent her an inspirational card with the text from Isaiah 43:19,
“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.” (NIV)
When the day came for the appointment, the new doctor listened to Cheryl’s symptoms carefully and made several notes. “I have something I want to try,” the doctor said. “It’s a medication and some people find it helps with their muscle spasms.”
The nurse gave Cheryl the medication and she was asked to continue waiting at the doctor’s office for several hours. To Cheryl’s amazement, her muscle spasms began to ease shortly after that first dose.
When she asked the doctor about it, he explained. “You were misdiagnosed, which is why all the medications you’ve tried over the years haven’t been helpful. I treated you for the condition you actually have.”
Years of suffering and pain ended with the correct diagnosis. No longer was it difficult for Cheryl to do everyday things, like drive, pick up her toddler, or cook a meal. Now she could move easily and joyfully through her days.
“God has certainly done a new thing for me!” She proclaimed to the friend who sent her the card. “Getting the right diagnosis has changed everything in my life. I’m so thankful God did this.”
The Silent Years
The nation of Israel had been enslaved for four hundred years. Four hundred years of crying out to God as generation after generation hoped their children and grandchildren would one day know the sweet blessing of freedom.
Some scholars refer to this period in Israel’s history as “The Silent Years” because God was silent during this time. Have you endured “the silent years” in your own life?
You prayed for your alcoholic husband, searched and searched for your runaway child. Begged God to heal your suffering parent, and you did everything you could to keep your business from going under. You even asked for healing from the trauma that haunts you.
In this place, it’s easy to believe the lies of the enemy—that you are forgotten and abandoned you. That your God has forsaken you and will no longer listen to your anguished prayers.
Oh, precious one, God has heard your cries just as He heard the cries of the Israelites.
The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So, I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land…” (Exodus 3:7-8)
From Bad to Worse
Sometimes God moves and a situation instantly improves. In these moments, it’s easy to rest assured that Jesus is on the scene. Like Cheryl, our faith is strengthened when we see fast results.
But what about when we don’t? What do we do when things seemingly go from bad to worse? Does it mean that God’s not at work or that His plans have somehow been thwarted by those around us?
The Israelite nation likely asked these same questions. When Moses went to Pharaoh and relayed God’s message that the people should be set free, the wicked ruler grew angry.
He said, “Make the work harder for the people so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies.” (Exodus 5:9)
Even Moses grew discouraged when he saw the increased workload placed on the nation of Israel. He cried out to God, saying, “Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.” (Exodus 5:23)
In these moments, it’s natural to wonder what’s going on. You question yourself—did you miss what God said? Did you fail to walk in His ways? Was your faith simply not enough to prompt Him to show up?
God is Doing a New Thing For His Glory
Sometimes God uses opposition to His will to further His glory. This is what it means when God responds to Moses. He says, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.” (Exodus 6:1)
So often God turns a test of our faith into His testimony. He does this for the honor of His name and to draw even more people to Him.
But this doesn’t mean the road is easy or painless. What happened to the Israelites was degrading, unfair, and just plain cruel. Yet God never left the wheel. He still reigned on His throne, even as it looked like everything was spinning out of control.
Maybe you need that reminder today. A co-worker has slandered you to your boss. Your business partner disappeared with the profits. The spouse you loved ran away with your best friend. Your child turned on you, betraying you in a way that cut deeply.
Now you’re left with an ache you can’t even describe. With tears in your eyes, you can only say, “I thought You were doing a new thing. I thought things were about to get better, not worse.”
Divine Protection in the Chaos
After three plagues against both the Egyptians and Israelites, God makes a bold declaration to Pharaoh, saying, “I will make a distinction a between my people and your people.” (Exodus 8:23)
The Israelite nation is spared the remaining seven plagues. It’s a clear sign that God is protecting and defending His beloved people. While He doesn’t immediately take them out of the situation, He sends a clear message, “These people? They are mine and they are precious to me.”
It’s the same thing God is saying over you. Yes, you may suffer, as God works to free you from that addiction or heal you from that trauma. You may ache as God restores your marriage or helps you recover from that natural disaster you lost everything in.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking the pain means God isn’t watching over you. Just as His eye is on the sparrow, it’s on you too.
Leaving in Victory
When the final plague is delivered, Pharaoh sets the people free. God has done an amazing thing for the Israelites!
So, how do they leave? Do they cower and slink out the back door? Do they make a run for it and hope no one is paying attention?
Not for a second! The Israelites “plunder” the Egyptians. Whatever they ask for, they are gladly given, as great fear has come upon the once haughty slave owners.
In Exodus 12:36 the moment is described this way: “The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.”
When God fights your battles, you never have to skulk and hide. You don’t have to cower in front of your enemies. You don’t need to tremble or fear what others can do to you…because your God is on your side!
Perhaps the Psalmist was thinking of this moment in Israel’s history when he penned the words of Psalm 118:6, “The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
What Does Your Red Sea Look Like?
Of course, the victory celebration doesn’t end with the Israelites merely leaving the land of Egypt. That would be a great, Hollywood-worthy ending, complete with a young, chiseled Moses staring confidently into the sunset.
But again, the Israelites face a desperate situation as the Egyptians chase them in the wilderness.
Ahead of them is the Red Sea and the tiny nation has no boats, ships, or even floaties among them. Behind them is the life they once knew—cruel oppression and open hatred.
If there were ever a moment to dig deep and try to muster some faith, this is it. Yet the Israelites respond the same way we do when faced with a crisis.
They totally panic and forget everything God has done for them, the miracles that should have been fresh in their minds are not meditated on. Instead, they say to Moses, “It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” (Exodus 14:12)
How Does God Respond in a Crisis? God is Doing a New Thing!
In the face of our weak-kneed faith and trembling hands, how does God respond? Does He grow angry when our once rock-solid faith suddenly shifts, and we can no longer sense His presence? Does He chide the weary or berate the weak?
Not for a moment!
Listen to the reassurance Moses declares over the humble nation, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:13-14)
The moment the nation cries out to God, He moves into action! He doesn’t need to pause and have a strategy session. He doesn’t need to take a moment to consult with His experts or ask the opinion of others.
God already knows exactly what to do. He’s already prepared the way—even though the nation hasn’t yet seen it.
As God’s beloved child, you can rest assured God has your pathway of deliverance marked. Before you even cry out, He knows exactly how He’s going to redeem this situation you’re walking through. He is doing a new thing.
The Cloud & the Fire
As the Israelites traveled from the land to their new home, God sent a cloud by day and a fire by night. Both of these were very real symbols to the nation that God was leading them, and they represented three beautiful things for the Israelites.
First, the cloud and the fire were God’s provision. The cloud gave shade to the tiny nation traveling through the harsh climate. The fire provided warmth during the cool desert nights.
Second, the cloud and the fire were God’s protection. In Exodus 14:20, God moves the cloud behind when the Egyptians come near them, “Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.”
Finally, the cloud and the fire were assurances of God’s presence. When God does a new thing in our lives, it can be scary. While the Israelites were certainly thankful to be free, the idea of journeying to a new place had to be overwhelming at times. They were leaving everything they once knew and embracing the unfamiliar.
God is Working through the Night, Doing a New Thing
While the tiny nation spent the long night fretting about what the morning would bring, God was at work.
“All that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land.” (Exodus 14:21)
Have you ever spent a sleepless night staring at the ceiling and worrying about the new day? Maybe you envisioned exactly how you’d confront that gossiping co-worker or what you’d say in the courtroom to defend your name.
These lonely nights can play tricks on you. They can convince you that God has brought you this far, only to leave you, that He’s asleep at the wheel, and you’d better make plans to look out for yourself.
But take confidence from the Psalmists words, “He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:4)
Just as God worked through the night for the good of Israel, He is working through the night on your behalf. He is setting in motion a strong east wind and turning your Red Sea into dry land even now.
Welcome to Dry Ground
As the Sea began to roll back and dry ground appeared, Moses motioned for the nation to follow him. Through the night, the weary group walked on. Little ones gasped at the walls of water. One tiny boy reached into the sea and hesitantly petted a Spinner dolphin, before his parents ushered him forward with nervous glances behind them.
The Egyptians continued to pursue the once enslaved nation and God intervened. He threw the great army into confusion, broke down their chariots and just as the last Israelite sandal crosses safely out of the Red Sea, God sent those waters crashing down again.
“That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore.” (Exodus 14:30)
No longer do the Israelites have to fear. While they might have once worried about journeying to the Promised Land while being pursued, they now have relief. Their anxieties have been put to rest.
“And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.” (Exodus 14:31)
Now that the Israelites have been given relief from their enemies, their first act is to trust God. He is no longer a distant concept they cannot grasp. In their minds and hearts, He’s real. He’s their Protector and Provider.
So, what do the Israelites do? They begin singing a hymn of praise. Someone breaks out the musical instruments. The women start dancing, and everyone laughs during the joyous celebration.
Note that the tiny nation still doesn’t know where they’re going. They are still lacking a GPS—but what they have now is a solid faith. So, they can confidently rejoice in the middle of their unknown!
As God leads you into a new place, it’s time to break out the chips and dip. Throw a party. Praise His name. Invite family and friends to celebrate with you! Rejoice, because the God who watched over the nation of Israel is watching over you!
Tucked away in Scripture, there are verses about the moments that God changed everything. They often contain two simple but important words. See if you can spot them below…
“David stayed in the wilderness strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands.” – 1 Samuel 23:14 (emphasis added)
“But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” – Acts 2:24 (emphasis added)
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” – Genesis 50:20 (emphasis added)
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8 (emphasis added)
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” – Psalm 73:26 (emphasis added)
Sometimes, we can walk through circumstances that feel impossible. But God can give us a new beginning at any moment. He can and often does intervene in the lives of His beloved children. If you are walking through circumstances today that feel impossible, pray this simple prayer and remember God can change everything!
God, when I’m tempted to write off the next chapter of my life as a lost cause let me remember that You can change everything. Help me to believe in Your power and trust Your goodness. Help me to live above my circumstances. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
I want to leave with a few questions to ponder today. You can journal these in your Secret Place Journal and look back on them from time to time. They will remind us that we serve the God of the impossible, He sees our heart and He cares for us.
- Which “But God” story above is your favorite?
- Do you have your own “But God” story—a moment where God intervened in a totally unexpected way?
- How do you find strength to keep believing while you’re still waiting for God to intervene?
Tips for Embracing Life When God Is Doing a New Thing
When God is doing a new thing in your life, it can be both exciting and scary. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you begin this journey…
Let Go of the Past
- Ask God’s forgiveness. If there’s unconfessed sin in your heart, take it to Jesus. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
- Give the gift of forgiveness. If there’s someone in your life that you’ve refused to forgive, now’s the time to let go and begin healing.
- Do a relationship inventory. Who are you close? Who do you want to grow closer to in the coming weeks? How could you make that happen?
- Release things that hold you hostage. Does that sewing machine remind you of your grandmother and her cruel words? Does that vase bring up painful memories of your ex-spouse? Don’t be afraid to get rid of things that remind you of past hurts.
- Cry it out. If you’re suffering from past hurts and trauma, don’t feel like you have to be stoic in the face of it. It’s OK to take time to grieve or express sorrow. In Biblical times, this was called a “lament”.
- Be willing to accept the unresolved. The truth is we don’t always get to see how everything plays out. Trust that God is working on the situation and accept that things might remain unresolved for a while longer.
- Seek help. If you’re having trouble letting go of your past and feel you need more support, then look for a Christian counselor to talk with or go to a trusted clergy person.
Embrace the Beautiful Now
- Choose a creative hobby. Releasing the emotions that a new change brings is important and art can be a wonderful way to cope.
- Practice being mindful. Instead of drifting through life on autopilot, take a few minutes to slow down and engage your five senses.
- Thank God. Make a list and start thanking God out loud for the blessings He’s poured into your life and continues to give you.
- Invite God into the messy. You don’t have to have it altogether before God will help you. He’s just waiting for your invitation.
- Accept your feelings. Emotions are a beautiful gift from God. It’s true that you don’t have to act on your feelings but it’s equally true that you shouldn’t stifle them either. Simply accept what you’re feeling without judging yourself.
- Don’t play “what if?” games. It does no good to worry about what may or may not happen. Instead, rely on your faith during moments of uncertainty.
- Be gentle with yourself. When you’re walking through a new beginning, there will be moments you feel overwhelmed. Understand that life is a little uncertain now, but that God is still working on your behalf.
Lean into Your Faith
- Listen for God’s voice. Is He telling you to do something? Is He nudging your heart to reach out to someone else?
- Make time with Him a priority. Take a few moments to spend with God every day in the form of Bible reading and prayer.
- Meditate on His faithfulness. What has God brought you through? How has God provided for you in the past?
- Sing a song of praise. Turn on the Christian radio, lift your hands, and praise God. There’s something precious about praise that comes when you’re standing in the middle of your miracle.
- Get an accountability partner. If your “new thing” involves overcoming a habitual sin or dealing with painful memories, find someone who can support you during moments of temptation and trauma.
- Tell others about what God is doing. You don’t have to wait until you have a Hallmark ending to your story before you can begin bragging on God. Go ahead and talk to those around you about what God is doing in your life!
- Be patient. God is writing a beautiful story for you. Just because you can’t understand the latest chapter doesn’t mean that God doesn’t know what He’s doing. He already has the perfect ending planned for you!