God Doesn’t Make Many Promises…But the Ones He Does Make Are Worth Remembering

January 28, 2015

Promises, Promises, Promises.

This guy is a complete gamble, not a promise.

This guy is a complete gamble, not a promise.

When things get tough, when life becomes especially uncertain, I have found that a lot of people look for promises that they can rely on.

What I mean is that people turn to the Bible and try to find out what God has promised. What has God guaranteed? What can I hang my hat on while my home is being foreclosed on, or my wife is sick or my career is in trouble or we are trying to conceive a child?

Over the last five years, I found that the infertility world is especially rife with this kind of talk, promise-talk, that is. There is no shortage of books, events or teachers who will make some kind of spiritual sounding promise, tailor-made for your exact situation.

The problem is that God doesn’t make a whole lot of promises, sad to say. And over time, all of the “promises” actually wore us down. They stopped encouraging us and actually made us lose hope. That’s the problem with false promises.

So, when times are difficult, how do we know when a promise is a promise that God has not made?

God Has Not Promised Me a Child

There are very few people in history who got a direct promise from God that they would have a child:

Sarah.

Elizabeth.

Mary.

And not too many others. And since the rest of our offspring are probably not going to end up in the Bible, there are not many reasons to believe that God is promising us any children. I have seen more often than I care to count, Bible verses (especially Psalms) taken out of context and twisted to look like promises.

It’s the same trick that is pulled on people of all stripes, whatever their trouble is. Go to a conference aimed at people who are unhappy with their money situation and you might see biblical “promises” being thrown around about stewardship and prosperity. Go down the road and you might hear promises about healing being spouted. It doesn’t matter what it is, people love a guarantee and will easily pay a few hundred bucks to sit in an arena and have a stranger promise them something.

God Has Not Promised It Would Be Easy

All of us have a few things that come easily to us.

But most things are hard.

Even the things we are good at are hard. Painting is hard, even if you are good at it. Writing is hard. Math is hard. Even the things that bring us the most fulfillment in life are hard. Love is a hard thing to do. That’s why a lot of people fail at it.

The funny thing about humans (or maybe just Westerners) is how often we seem surprised that these things are hard.

How many blogs out there are dedicated to telling everyone how hard marriage is?

How many blogs rake in the traffic by telling us over and over how hard parenting is?

None of this should be a surprise. This life was made for hard work. There were never any promises made that life would be easy. Humans have done their best to alleviate the hardship of life, but no matter what we do, the things that matter most will still be hard.

What God Has Promised

When you are on the outside looking in, it is easy to imagine that getting the thing you want will make it all better. It doesn’t matter if it is a child or a new job or a spouse. When we don’t have the thing we want, we tend to fixate on it and blame all of our unhappiness on the lack of this thing and bet all of our happiness on the acquisition of this thing.

The problem is that my kid might turn out to disappoint me. He might be an unkind or an unhappy man in thirty years. He might be a source of pain for me in my old age. I just don’t know.

My wife might pass away in ten years.

My house might get blown away.

My place of work might go out of business.

But perhaps the worst of it all is when we look around us, we see the mess and we shout at God, “You promised!”

God shrugs his shoulders and asks, “When did I promise?”

That is the awfulness of false promises. They feel good. They rake in crowds and make money. If only people can follow all the right steps to just harness the promises! But eventually, the promises are exposed as weak. And then people have a crisis of faith.

If we believe that God has promised us children and happiness and ease in the life, then we are chasing a false god and our faith will crumble.

But if we believe what God has promised, that He weeps with us when we weep and He rejoices with us when we rejoice, that He will make all things right in the end, and will unite us with all of our children after this life and will redeem every lost and lonely moment, then that is a promise that is worth believing.

 

 

 

My house might get blown away.

My place of work might go out of business.

But perhaps the worst of it all is when we look around us, we see the mess and we shout at God, “You promised!”

God shrugs his shoulders and asks, “When did I promise?”

That is the awfulness of false promises. They feel good. They rake in crowds and make money. If only people can follow all the right steps to just harness the promises! But eventually, the promises are exposed as weak. And then people have a crisis of faith.

If we believe that God has promised us children and happiness and ease in the life, then we are chasing a false god and our faith will crumble.

But if we believe what God has promised, that He weeps with us when we weep and He rejoices with us when we rejoice, that He will make all things right in the end, and will unite us with all of our children after this life and will redeem every lost and lonely moment, then that is a promise that is worth believing.

2 responses to God Doesn’t Make Many Promises…But the Ones He Does Make Are Worth Remembering

  1. Matt, I really appreciate how you cut to the heart of things and turn common misconceptions inside out. It’s so easy to latch onto false promises and put our hope in empty words that aren’t intended for us.
    KC recently posted..The best thing to ever happen to your dreams

  2. Refreshing! If we all had this understanding (revelation) there would be less of us turning away from God due to false hope & “promises” and more of us living for God no matter what may come (or not come)