prom·ise [prom-is] noun, verb, prom·ised, prom·is·ing.
1. a declaration that something will or will not be done, given, etc., by one: unkept political promises.
2. an express assurance on which expectation is to be based: promises that an enemy will not win.
3. something that has the effect of an express assurance; indication of what may be expected.
A promise is a commitment…
The Lord’s Promise to Abram
15 Later the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision, “Abram, don’t be afraid! I will protect you and reward you greatly.”
2 But Abram answered, “Lord All-Powerful, you have given me everything I could ask for, except children. And when I die, Eliezer of Damascus will get all I own. 3 You have not given me any children, and this servant of mine will inherit everything.”
4 The Lord replied, “No, he won’t! You will have a son of your own, and everything you have will be his.” 5 Then the Lord took Abram outside and said, “Look at the sky and see if you can count the stars. That’s how many descendants you will have.” 6 Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord was pleased with him.
God promised Abraham that he would reward him and protect him. Yet Abraham still wants more. He wants children, and God promises him he will have many descendants.
To be honest, I’m a bit jealous of this promise to Abraham. He tells God what he wants, and God promises to fulfil it – in abundance. It all seems so simple. Yet life is not always like that.
How many of us cry out to God for something that we want, and yet we never see it, never receive that same promise from God. It’s enough to make you lose faith in God ( or yourself? Maybe it’s me? I’m not as good/worthy as Abraham)
Why does God promise this to Abraham? Why doesn’t he promise it to me? Is it a general promise that whatever we want, God will provide; or a specific and necessary promise to Abraham.
I genuinely think it is the latter. We hear lots in the bible about promises God does keep, but I suppose no one bothered recording the ones they didn’t think he had! There were people who had to struggle with their life as it was, seemingly with God not answering their pleas. Think Job, think my hero Habakkuk. We cry out to God, and it appears to make no difference, it seems he’s not listening – or if he does he ignores us. We long for things to be different. Our heart breaks. Our lives are lived in despair. Why is God not answering my longing?
And you read passages like this and it all seems so simple.
Yet, faith is just that, as we considered last week. If we believe in God, part of that is trusting him. Allowing him to do what is right, not what we want. And relying on him to sustain us in our pain and frustration; to wipe our tears, hold us safely in his arms as we sob, and giving us the strength when we think we can no longer go on with how things are.
Trust in a Time of Trouble
17 Fig trees may no longer bloom,
or vineyards produce grapes;
olive trees may be fruitless,
and harvest time a failure;
sheep pens may be empty,
and cattle stalls vacant—
18 but I will still celebrate
because the Lord God
19 The Lord gives me strength.
He makes my feet as sure
as those of a deer,
and he helps me stand
on the mountains.
I do think God keeps his promises, ultimately. The answers may not be what we think they should be, they may not be as spectacular as Abraham’s was, they may take longer than we think (remember Abraham took matters into his own hand when he thought God wasn’t delivering on this promise quick enough – God has a time and a place). But God is faithful and true. He is worthy of our faith and trust, he delivers on his promises, whether we recognise it or not. But we have to give him the scope to fulfil them his way and in his time. And allow him to give us the strength to hang on in there while he does.
Thank you Lord
for your promises.
I don’t always understand them,
sometimes I want to push them,
to make them work the way I want.
Thank you Lord,
that you know what is the very best,
and for the complex web that is the world.
that you hold me tight,
when it feels that my world is falling apart,
not following the path I expected,
not fulfilling my dreams.
that you never let me go,
that however much it feels like it at times,
I will not drown,
that you have a deeper purpose in and through me,
that your promises are not in vain
– though sometimes unexpected.
Lord,help me not to be blinkered
in what I see
and what I fail to see