Every Promise Kept

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I woke up on Saturday morning to some really bad news. It had nothing to do with me or even anyone close to me, but, instead was about a family that is related to a friend of mine. My heart cried out, “WHY GOD? WHY? I don’t understand. This doesn’t make sense.” Honestly, it rocked my world a bit. How can such terrible, terrible things happen to people that love the Lord? Why do they happen?

This is an age old question, isn’t it? We know sin exists. We know that we all will die. We see bad stuff happening around us everyday. Every. Day. The stories are heart-breaking and overwhelming sometimes. They are especially heart-rending when they happen to fellow believers.

Wouldn’t you know–this past Sunday’s sermon happened to be just about this very thing. We had a former missionary by the name of Larry Gray visiting our church and his message for us was centered around the fact that God always keeps His promises. He then gave us three different ways in which He does so. I’d like to pass along his outline and examples, elaborated with a few of my own thoughts and a few extra examples from scripture between points.

He started off with a quote by our church’s retired pastor, Pastor James Ober–

A disappointed heart is one of the most fertile places for Satan to do his work.

What a succinct way to say such a profound truth. Disappointment is often what yields bitterness, an unforgiving heart, depression, a downcast spirit, a lack of joy. If Satan can get us to focus on our disappointment we become like super-fertilized soil for many bad things.

As I was listening to the sermon, my mind wandered for a second. What causes us to be so disappointed, anyway? Why are we so disappointed when things don’t go our way? Is it because we have been taught to expect a perfect, carefree life? Or perhaps because we believe that God isn’t working unless He is working out things the way we want them to work out? Hold that thought. We will get back to it.

The speaker went on to describe three ways in which God keeps His promises to His people–

1. Intervention. This is when God intervenes by changing our circumstances or removing us from the circumstances. This is the way we like the best, isn’t it? It is, by far, the easiest from our human vantage point.

Two examples he mentioned from scripture were the Israelites crossing the Red Sea (Exodus 14) and the blind man who was healed by Jesus (John 9). But there are so many more, aren’t there? How about Daniel in the Lion’s Den (Daniel 6) and the perfectly timed earthquake that opened the jail cells of Paul and Silas at Philippi (Acts 16:25-34)?

If we have followed Jesus Christ for any amount of time at all, we have had some of this intervention in our own lives, as well. “Coincidental” meetings, miraculous timing, disappearing tumors, a much needed check in the mailbox or a bag of groceries on the doorstep. Just the right thing at exactly the right time. God is still working in this way. And, of course, we love it when He does!

2. Interaction. This is where we work, God works, and, together, we accomplish God’s purposes and plan. This requires a bit more from us than the first way, doesn’t it? We actually have to do something. We may have to sacrifice our time as well as our selfish will and desires. We will probably have to work very hard in order to experience victory.

The speaker gave the example of Elijah outrunning the chariot (I Kings 18:45-46). I also thought of Moses having to hold his arms up to win the battle (Exodus 17:11) and Esther putting her own life in peril to approach the King in order to save the Jews (Esther 4:11). The Great Commission is also a proof that this is sometimes how God works (Matthew 28:19-20). These passages show us that oftentimes God uses man (He doesn’t need us but chooses to use us) to accomplish His purposes.

This is often the way in which we experience victory over things like obesity, debt, and addictions. We step up and give our best efforts and God is there strengthening, supporting, and guiding us all the way.

3. Inner Action. This is where nothing changes but our hearts. This is the one that we probably find the most difficult. We want things to change. We want relief! And we want it now! But sometimes God says Wait. And sometimes He says No. But in the process of it all– if we don’t let disappointment and disillusionment grab hold of our heart–spiritual fruit grows. We develop a deeper walk that eventually spills out over on to the lives of others, encouraging them, blessing them, perhaps even leading them to the precious Savior.

The speaker gave the example of Paul’s thorn in the flesh for this point (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). I would also add John the Baptist–beheaded by the orders of a vengeful, evil woman (Matthew 14:1-12) and Jeremiah, the prophet who was hated, mocked, and abused for declaring the Word of the Lord, with little relief (Jeremiah 11:21; 12:6; 20:1-2 –to name a few!)

He also gave the modern-day example of Joni Eareckson Tada. Most of you are probably familiar with this woman, now in her mid 60s, that was in a diving accident as a 17 year old, leaving her a quadriplegic. If you haven’t ever read her story, you have missed one of the best biographies of these modern times (If you’d like to read it, you can find it here). The speaker went on to talk about just how much Joni has done for the Lord in her wheelchair.

Think about that for a moment. If God would have answered the desperate appeals and cries for healing for this young woman, would she have been able to be used by God in the same way she is used today? Would she have been able to have the same incredible impact among the disabled that she has had today without healing? She has had an incredible ministry with the disabled because she is disabled. She is a wonderful example of not giving in to the disappointment of unanswered prayer, isn’t she? By the way, her reach goes far beyond the disabled. She has written many wonderful books, draws and paints beautiful works with her mouth, and has also quite a speaking career. God took her pain and turned it into something magnificent for His glory! Isn’t it amazing what a heart that yields to God’s will–instead of caving in to disappointment– can accomplish for the Lord?

So that’s the sermon in a nutshell. Isn’t that profound? But before I conclude, let’s go back to our expectations for a moment. One of the statements our speaker made was this–

If this {intervention} is your only expectation, you will have a disappointed, damaged faith.

This is so true! I had never thought about it quite like that before. You see, we so badly want to be removed from our circumstances. We don’t want to do any work at all. We certainly don’t want to stay in our bad circumstances. And, so, we basically tell God “answer my prayers the way I want them answered or else.” Instead of submitting and yielding to our Most High God, we want Him to bow to us and our desires. Instead of desiring to serve an Almighty, Holy God, we want Him to serve us! Think about that for a moment! This is a big deal.

What is our purpose? What are we here for?

To have our every whim and desire fulfilled? No.

To live worry-free, without cares? No.

To have everything go just as we want? No.

To never experience pain, death, or persecution? No.

To bring God glory and to make Him known? YES! A thousand times YES!

If we remember this, it completely changes our paradigm for life. Instead of trying to manipulate circumstances and fixing situations, we rest quietly and wait on the Lord. Instead of always wanting to get our own way, we think of others first. Instead of living in a state of panic, fear, and disappointment, we trust in the Lord, knowing that He loves us deeply, fully, and forever.

Living in a fallen, sinful world is hard. It is painful. Oftentimes it is downright unpleasant. But if we know God and trust in Him He will uphold us. If He is the rock we build our life upon (Matthew 7:24-29), no disappointment or trial will destroy us. Instead, they will make us stronger.

I hope this has helped you as much as it helped me. I hope that you will continue to trust the Lord today, no matter what trial or deep disappointment you are facing. God has not deserted you. Instead, He is fulfilling His purposes in you. Don’t turn away from Him during this time–turn towards Him.

17 thoughts on “Every Promise Kept”

  1. I really enjoy your Growing For Life posts! There are many I would like to forward to Christian friends that could really benefit from a particular post. But I haven’t found a way to forward or share. Any suggestions?

    1. Thank you, Susan. As for sharing, are you unable to see the share buttons at the top and bottom of each post? If that doesn’t work, you can easily copy and paste the link in your browser bar, as well :) Hope this helps! Thanks again!

    2. If you are on facebook, like Leslie’s page, then you’ll get all her posts on there and can easily send them to friends. That’s what I do!

  2. Thank you so much. Your post today really spoke to my heart about some things that are going on this week in the life of my family. We had become disheartened, and I needed to hear this message. I forwarded it to my husband’s work e-mail and I hope he will get to read it on his lunch hour. God has absolutely perfect timing. Thank you again for allowing yourself to be used of Him.

  3. Leslie, once again, twice in one week, I am moved to make a comment about your post. This one hit me hard, but not just for me, for my church right now. At this time we have three people with serious cancer – a 12 year old girl, an elder’s wife, and our lead pastor. Our congregation has been seeing the physical ravages of cancer first hand. Our pastor continues to lead us and even preach sometimes, but physically his body is wasting away. It is so hard to see this. This post was so on target for us. I sent it to our pastor’s wife and the mother of the 12 year old girl. Our pastor’s wife is leading our women’s Bible study this fall, we’ll be studying Joni Eareckson Tada’s book “When God Weeps”, because we all need encouragement to get through this. I don’t know anything about the book yet, but look forward to reading it with the women. I’ve said it before to you and I’ll say it again, thank you for your blog. And thank you for your honesty and wisdom within it, all based on God’s Word, our only source of strength. And thanks to your pastor, too, for his sermon.

    1. Hi Pam! Wow. Your church is certainly going through a rough time. All that bad stuff is so hard to wrap our brains around sometimes. I am so glad to know that this encouraged you. I hope that this post helps those suffering, although when it’s really, really dark sometimes you just have to rely on other people’s prayers to take the next step. :(

  4. I needed to be reminded of all that you said. Very good reading!!! I know that I am blest no matter what I go through in life. Loving my Lord & Savior!!!

  5. I want to thank you Leslie, for yet another well written, thought provoking, and encouraging post. I can certainly relate to what you wrote and I am encouraged by it. Recently I have faced grief beyond what I thought I could ever cope with; the pain of loss and heartache haunted my dreams at night and I had no relief from the despair during the day. I struggled with pleading for God to change/remove my circumstances; but eventually I realized that God was not going to do that; He was actually changing my heart so I could endure through the challanges I was facing…which were beyond my control. Even to this day, 4 years later; I still struggle with the hurt from loss, that wants to make it’s way into the forfront of my thoughts; but I know I can control my thoughts and let the Holy Spirit minister to me. The enemy, Satan, wants to hold my thoughts captive but I won’t allow Him acess to where he knows I am most vulnerable.
    Right now I am reading two different books on the topic of grief. I often find that by reading how other people have faced their challanges; whatever they might be; I too can be encouraged by their wisdom, how they handled that difficult period in their life, and how God became their rock to stand on when feeling like the earth was swallowing you up.
    I want to share those two books with you and your readers; “A Grace Disguised, by Jerry Sittser” and “Through the Eyes of a Lion, by Levi Lusko.” I highly recommend both books when faced with grief and loss.
    Thank-you again for your excellent post and servant’s heart Leslie!

    1. Thank you, Catherine! Thank you for sharing part of your heart with me and with the rest of the G4L readers as a testimony to God’s great faithfulness as you walked through deep waters. Thanks for the book suggestions, too. I am sure they will help others, as well.

  6. I agree with you 100% sister. I see disappointments as stepping stone to higher grounds. Obviously it can only be seen through spiritual eyes. Once you reach to the understanding of God’s will and purpose for humanity and accept HIM as your LORD AND SAVIOR you will see how he will direct YOUR path. Whatever situation I find myself in I have learn to ask myself the following question: “What did I do wrong”. Instead of concentrating and trying to blame the third party I try to find what did I do in order to end up in this situation. It works much better for me as I have learn to avoid situations that can become problematic. Have a blessed day

    1. Thank you for your thoughts. It is certainly better to focus on fixing ourselves versus blaming others. I think it is also good to remember that sometimes we haven’t done anything wrong at all–there is just a bigger plan that we don’t understand. Job is a good example of this :)

  7. You blog entitled Every Promise Kept has some very great insights into How God works in our lives! I’ve found myself talking about the points you covered and shared it on Facebook. Thanks for sharing these truths and your perspective!

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