Have you ever been promised something that was not given to you?
I can remember being a child and ordering one of those huge pool floats. You know the kind, the ones with the detachable banana and palm tree. Against my parents’ strong discouragement, I was positive that the float was worth every penny of the money I had been rewarded from a writing contest I had won. When it came in the mail, I attempted to talk myself into the fact that it was just as fabulous as I had pictured. It was half the size the commercials had shown it as; and truthfully, it was poorly made. I was not even sure it would hold me up in the water, and so after much frustration and tears, I decided to send it back. Disappointed.
Now, this was a very small, small thing. What about those things that are not tangible that absolutely wreck our lives? Those promises unmet that attempt to change the very core of who we are.
I would never hurt you.
I will always love you.
You are safe with me.
You can trust me.
It’s in those moments that parts of us begin to become weary of this concept of promises. It’s then that we sometimes begin to doubt if anyone is capable of keeping their word. If the ones who love us the most continue to let us down, then who can ever make these unmet promises right? Who will really never let us down?
I know, I know. You saw that one coming, and some of you are ready to jump back, fists clinched, with the response, “No, Morgan. That’s the thing. He’s already let me down time and time again. He was not there when my tiny innocent spirit was stolen by an adult who was supposed to keep me safe; body and soul torn. He wasn’t there when the cancer hit. He did not show up when I begged him to heal my friend. He’s already let me down; this Jesus you speak of is just like everyone else.”
First off, let me offer you a sincere apology.
You see, those of us who claim the name Christian, myself included, have not done a good job of representing God’s promises. I do not mean that we are hypocrites and we have broken the own promises we have offered. Christianity is based on what God has done for us, not what we can do for God. That being said, while it is true that we are all hypocrites and we all mess up, that should not come as a surprise because that was going to happen from the beginning. While we are called to represent Christ, on this earth we are still imprisoned in this flesh and we are going to mess up and let each other down time and time again until that heavenly day. No. The apology I am offering is that we have misconstrued and misunderstood God’s promises ourselves. We have taken God’s word out of context at times, and not done a good job of explaining what God Himself DOES promise. I will tell you this: He does not always promise smooth sailing. In fact, He promises the opposite:
“In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33)
We will have trouble. Not, “You might have trouble” or, “You will have trouble unless you believe in me”. No. You WILL. A promise.
Yes, He goes on to encourage us that He has overcome the world, which is always something to celebrate, but don’t miss that first part.
The book of Hebrews is full of God’s promises. Hebrews 7:21, God promises that Jesus is the eternal priest, forever. Hebrews 8:2, God set up His kingdom, not man. (Can I get an Amen?) Hebrews 8:12, He will remember our sins no more as soon as we believe in Christ and accept Him as Lord. The whole chapter of Hebrews 11, He promises that we are going to have to have a whole lot of faith in this journey. He also promises in this chapter we are going to be made strong in weakness. Hebrews 12 promises that hard times are going to come, and that we are going to be tempted to give up.
Does any of this sound familiar?
I could list more and more things that show what God promises His people, but I can tell you that they all revolve around the fact that He is going to meet our every need (not want, not even what we think we need, what He knows in His wisdom we need). He promises His grace is always sufficient for us, and for those around us (think about that one). He promises us victory over death. Not in the here and now, but for eternity. He promises us He is working all things together for good. (Not for what we think is good, but for the big picture good). He promises that those who believe in Jesus with their hearts and confess Him with their mouths will be saved. Not always in the here and now stuff, but for eternity.
I say this to say that while God is fully capable of healing, and He certainly can be given glory for the times He chooses to do that, it is not always His will to do so on this side of heaven. The thing is this: when we pray for something, we have to keep the promises of God in mind. We have to remember as we pray that He loves us, He has good in mind, and that if His answer to a prayer is, “No” it is for a better yes. As humans, we have to trust that He is God and that, to put it blunt, this time here on earth is, rightfully, not about us. We are a grain of sand in His big ocean, and the fact that He loves us is one of those incredible, life-changing mysteries. So, why pray? Why pray if He has the whole thing rigged anyway?
We pray, dear friends, to align ourselves with Him and His will. We pray and cry out to God, knowing that however He chooses to answer our prayers is His best. We pray, knowing that He has never once promised to answer everything according to what we will, but He has promised He has our good in mind and that He is listening. He promises He will never leave us. And, He promises healing for all eternity, no matter what He chooses on this side of heaven. Eternal yes’s.
Today, I want to encourage the person whose faith is dwindling. The person who has been misinformed about who God is and what He is about. The person who feels unheard and left alone. Friend: He loves you. He has not turned a deaf ear toward you, and He wants you to hear today of the promises He has given you in Himself. Not promises to make everything right on earth, but promises that through His Son, He has already overcome. He nailed it all to the cross and victory is His. My prayer for you today is that you would cling hard to what He does promise. That you would seek out His Word in entirety and ask Him to give you eyes to see. His love never runs out. No matter what path you are on, if you still have breath in your lungs there is time. It’s not too late. He doesn’t care what you have done in light of what He did. That’s a promise.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”- Romans 8:37-39