I think we can all look back and see times when we made a promise or someone made a promise to us and it was not kept. Some of those memories are trivial and humorous while others may have some long-term struggles. I can remember promising to do things for my wife that slip my mind or promising an athlete I would modify something in their program and not getting to it. The old adage, “promises were meant to be broken” carries some weight and truth in our lives. However, when we struggle with broken promises and the impact they have on our trust for others, we often will portray this on God. How many times have you read somethign in the Bible, understood its meaning, but did not trust its truth when it was time to put it to practice. We see this all the time with financial giving. How many times have we not given to someone or to the church because “we can’t afford” it right now? Yet the Bible promises in Malachi 3:10 that our giving will never return empty.
There are some great examples of this struggle in the book of Genesis. Abram was promised by God that he would not only have a son but that through him, his offspring would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. And yet when those plans did not meet his time requirement or did not mesh with his hopes and dreams, he took God’s plans into his own hands. At the bidding of his barren wife Sarai, he took God’s plans into his own hands and had sex with Hagar (their female servant) in order to create a male heir. He did not trust in the plans and the power of the Lord nor did he trust in His timing. The hopes and dreams that Abram yearned for pushed him to not believe and rest in God’s promises.
Abraham is not alone in this struggle. His grandson Jacob and Abraham’s daughter in law Rebecca plotted against Isaac (Abraham’s son) to steal the blessing and birthright of the oldest son Esau. They were successful but caused a family rift that would force Jacob to flee from his land and from his family and never see his beloved mother again. The irony of their plot is that God had promised Jacob that his older brother would serve him saying “the older will serve the younger.” God made that promise the day they were born. Jacob and Rebecca could not rest in the promises of God and instead took matters into their own hands. The result was disaster rather than peace.
The stories could go on and on of God’s people struggling to trust in His promises. The Israelites in the wilderness often complained and worshipped other gods for fear that God would not fill hHs promise. Aaron, fearing that Moses had died on Mount Sinai, could not trust in God’s promise to save the people of Israel and built a golden calf for the people to worship. Solomon, despite his massive economic success, did not trust God in his sovereignty to make the nation great and instead married multiple wives for the purpose of diplomatic strength. The list goes on and on.
In 2016 we read these stories and wonder what they were thinking. How could The people of Israel struggle to trust in the Lord who had miraculously saved them from the Egyptians? It is hard for us to see in hindsight how these men and women could not trust God’s promises. However, in 30 years we will look back on our own life and decisions and likely feel the same way. There are so many times where I know God has promised faithfulness and I know God has promised to make all things ultimately for my good and his glory but in the midst of trial or suffering or even when I just feel like circumstances aren’t going my way I look to God and wonder what he’s doing. I, the created being, look at God, the Creator, and question His ability to be faithful. It’s no different then a two-year-old child wondering and complaining to their father about why they took the scissors from them. We can’t see all that God is orchestrating and to not trust in his promises is to believe that we know better than our Creator.
If you look back on each of those circumstances in the Old Testament where the patriarchs of the Bible did not trust in the promises of God, you see two things. God’s promises still came true. Our attempts at creating our own destiny or manipulating God to fit our desires will always fail. His promises are true and His will unstoppable. Secondly, you see in each of those patriarchs that their attempts to force or change God’s plan or mess with His timeline only ended in disaster. Jacob was forced to flee from his homeland and never got to see his beloved mother again. Solomon, despite all of his grandeur and splendor, was succeeded by a civil war and a split in the nation of Israel because of his son’s lack of wisdom. We don’t know best. Even at our best moments we fail miserably in comparison to the sovereignty and knowledge of God. To believe that His promises aren’t good enough or they aren’t working fast enough or they aren’t meeting our desires reveals our shortsightedness and lack of faith.
In 1886 R.Kelso Carter wrote a now famous song titled “Standing on the promises of God.” One of the verses from this song says this:
“Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call
Resting in my Savior as my all in all,
Standing on the promises of God.”
Carter nailed it. God’s promises do not fail and his faithfulness is as consistent as the sunrise. Because of these truths we can rest in the Lord as our Savior and stand on His promises. Despite your circumstances and regardless of your current situation, God is unchanging and his promises are always sure. Remember who God is, remember His character, and lean on His promises. We are in far better hands when we rest in His promises then we try to make our own way devoid of the Lord.
Romans 11:33–36 says “Oh the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable are His ways and how inscrutable His judgment. For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor. Or who has given a gift to Him that he might be repaid. For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To him be the glory forever, Amen.”
Who are we to believe we know best or that God’s promises and faithfulness aren’t working fast enough?