Summary: God is always doing a new thing and you don't want to miss it!
Title: FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
Text: Isaiah 43:16-21
Thesis: God is always doing a new thing and you don’t want to miss it!
Ivan Pavlov was a Russian psychologist who earned the Nobel Prize in 1904 for his work in Classical Conditioning.
There are automatic responses to a specific stimulus… If a dog smells food his automatic response is to begin to salivate and wag his tail and run around in anticipation of having a newly opened can of Alpo plopped into his food bowl.
There are also learned responses to a specific stimulus... Ivan Pavlov observed that whenever the people who normally fed the lab dogs came into the room the dogs began to salivate and get all excited in anticipation of being fed. The dogs did not see the food or smell the food… they simply saw the people who fed them. This led to Pavlov’s famous Pavlov’s Dogs Experiment in which the dogs were conditioned to salivate when they heard the chime of a bell that would signal they were about to be fed. When the bell rang… food appeared. Their response was not an automatic response to seeing or smelling food it was the conditioned or learned response to the ringing of a chime that signaled they were about to be fed. Perhaps Pavlov’s chime for the dogs is akin to the old farmer’s dinner bell.
In our culture we are more familiar with the conditioned response we have to the vibrating or buzzing or chiming or ringing of our cell phones. In his book iDisorder, Larry Rosen says that 50% of teenagers and young adults become moderately to highly anxious when they can’t check their technologies as often as they would like. Two-thirds check their texts every fifteen minutes or less. And if there is a flashing light or a buzz or a vibration or whatever signaling an incoming text or an email or a news update or a tweet, we begin to salivate and wag or tails and get all jittery and excited in anticipation of picking up.
They call this syndrome the Fear of Missing Out… FOMO!
Our text begins with a little historical reminder to a people who were not feeling the love, so to speak.
I. Memory serves to remind us of how deeply God cares for us. Isaiah 43:16-17
“I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea. I called forth the mighty army of Egypt with its chariots and horses. I drew them beneath the waves, and they were drowned, their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick.” Isaiah 43:16-17
The Israelites were living out a 70 year sentence of exile in Babylon… present day Iraq. They felt like they had no future so God spoke to them through the Prophet Isaiah reminding them of his faithfulness to them in the past. God referred specifically to the story of the Exodus when God freed them from slavery in Egypt. Following a series of miraculous plagues the Pharaoh of Egypt let the Israelites go and Moses led them out into the Sinai toward the Promised Land. But then the Pharaoh changed his mind and sent his army after the Israelites… and the Israelites found themselves with the Red Sea before them and the Army of Pharaoh behind them. They were caught between a rock and a hard place.
So God reminded them, that despite their discouragement there in Babylon, he has been faithful to them in the past. It was as if he said, “Hey folks… remember when you were in a huge jam there on the shore of the Red Sea? Remember what I did? Remember how I opened the waters so you could pass through on dry ground and then when the Egyptian army followed you into the path I let the water flood back over them and they were literally snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick? Remember?”
The ancient Israelites had a belly-full of Egyptian oppression and the Israelites in exile during Isaiah’s time had a belly-full of Syrian oppression. And sometimes we too have had a belly-full of it… We too live in what often feels like a bad world filled with bad people and memory is good for reminding ourselves of how deeply God cares for us.
Tony Blair, Britain’s Prime Minister from 1997 through 2007 is known to be a devout Christian and man of faith. On one occasion while touring a blood stained school classroom in Scotland where a gunman had killed sixteen students and a teacher his press secretary asked him, “What does your God make of this?” It is said that Blair stopped and answered, “Just because man is bad, it does not mean the God is not good.”
God reminds us in our text today that regardless of what it looks like all around us that he is a good God who has acted faithfully in our behalf in the past.