There’s not much we can be sure of today. We live in a world of broken promises, broken families, backstabbing friends, and personal failures. And that’s just at church.
After a lifetime of disillusions, we’ve come to expect little else. We often hope for nothing in hopes we won’t be disappointed.
It’s easy to get sucked into the black hole of hopelessness. It happens because we live in an a culture that keeps God at arm’s length, one that claims His name but declines His Lordship.
God is a package deal. And when we refuse all of God then we miss all of what He has to offer. In refusing all of God we’re forced to fill those gaps with substitutes that disappoint and fail us.
But with God . . . ah, now that’s a worldview of a different color.
The Sovereign Lord, the Creator of the universe, offers true hope—and here’s why: He is the only one able to make good on His promises.
Here are 4 promises of God—cleverly disguised by the Apostle Paul as questions—that give you hope for your life.
I had to smile when I read what Jason Kidd said after the Dallas Mavericks drafted him years ago: “We’re going to turn this team around 360 degrees!”
Life often feels like that, doesn’t it? A lot of effort with nothing gained.
At times, the Bible seems like a history book in which God makes and fulfills promises to the ancients, but the words somehow lack immediacy to our struggling lives. And yet, it’s funny how the anxieties that overwhelm our lives seem identical to those that biblical people struggled against.
Even though Scripture provides assurance of God’s promises, assurance doesn’t negate the stressful circumstances that force us to trust God.
Truth doesn’t make the hard parts of life go away. We still have to trust God with that truth.
As a teenager, I knew everything. You could even say I was omniscient. I marveled at the incompetence of adults on the simplest issues. They just didn’t get it.
And then I grew up, and something strange happened. I discovered that as an omniscient person, I still had a lot to learn.
So many times I stood so sure of myself only to discover how woefully ignorant I was.
- I knew a lot about the Bible until I went to seminary. It turns out, the more I learned, the less I knew.
- I knew everything about marriage until I got married. But matrimony is course in art, not science. I’ll be learning for the rest of my life.
- I was an expert on parenting until I had kids. Parenting offers a long course of study on your own selfishness.
I’ve learned a lot since I became omniscient. But you know where that omniscient teenager resurfaces the most in my life? The same place it shows itself in your life.
When we’re talking to God.
I sat in the audience as Joni Eareckson Tada gave this talk to the 2013 National Religious Broadcasters.
Her words completely changed my perspective and mood that night. I walked in grumbling the hard week I experienced . . . and I left filled with gratitude for God.
Watch her video and you’ll understand why. Incredible.
God permits what He hates to accomplish that which He loves.
Just this week I finished reading Joni’s book, A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty.
Believe me, if you’d like some encouragement in the midst of your pain, this book will show you how to view your struggles with the joy only God provides.
We start strong. Determination and strength come easily. Faithfulness flows from our hearts.
Then life happens. We didn’t plan to grow cold spiritually. But we did.
Somehow, we can wake up after a number of years and discover that our lack of passion for God has gradually shifted Him away from our hearts. We then find ourselves living in the ruins of once-vibrant spiritual lives.
How does this happen? By forgetting this one thing.
Most of us can remember the turning of the millennium. It was an exciting time to be alive—to see if all computers would crash. (It was also a great time for practical jokes).
But for the great yew tree at Crowhurst, England, the year 2000 was no big deal. Tree experts say this tree has seen the millennium change four times. Ho hum.
That means when Jesus walked the earth two thousand years ago, the Crowhurst yew had already stood for two thousand years—dating to the time of Abraham!
From its lush exterior you’d never guess the tree had a center lifeless and hollow.
A lot of people live life like this old tree.
- From all appearances, they look full of life and vigor, but on the inside they have an empty hollow.
- The longer they live, the bigger the hole gets on the inside.
Life can weather your faith. But God’s love shows us how He can fill that empty hollow with life far more vibrant than the outside facade.
But only He can do it.
Sometimes waiting on God feels like you’re dying of thirst.
That’s what David thought as he wandered in a thirsty wilderness, running from a problem he couldn’t solve.
Chased by the jealous King Saul, David took refuge in the Wilderness of Judea and prayed, “My flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1).
This barren land is a picture of our own challenge with waiting on God.
It also pictures the place of refuge God provides for us while we wait.
Not long ago, my body gave me a little gift.
I awoke suddenly one night with a smarting pain in the body. No matter how I fidgeted and adjusted, the hurt in my lower back only intensified.
The best way I can describe the discomfort compares to having a doctor insert a three-inch hypodermic needle just to the left of the spine, exactly where the kidney sits. Occasionally, just for fun, the doc then twists the needle in a slow, clockwise motion.
The pain literally nauseated me.
Never before had I experienced such an inescapable ache.
The most frightful part was I had no idea what was happening.
Not long ago, my jaw dropped as I calculated how much I had spent on tolls that year.
This painful revelation forced me to reexamine my commute. I decided to take the access road to work each morning instead of the highway.
But I discovered I pay either way.
I pay in time or in money. In angst or in cash. Unfortunately, I seem to have more of time.
So I pay my time at stoplights.
After two years of navigating stoplights and memorizing their patterns, I have concluded that someone, somewhere, is smiling at me behind some camera.
Maybe it’s God. (He’s smiling at you too.)
Before I had a family, I had a different car—a black Firebird with T-tops.
Sitting behind those eight cylinders, I could go from zero to too-fast in about five seconds (but, of course, I never did).
After Cathy and I had our first daughter, I decided I needed a family vehicle. Car seats don’t fit in Firebirds.
So I sold the car.
A few months later, I found a spare set of keys to the Firebird, and I thought: I need to get these to the new owner. Even though I could have kept the keys (as insignificant as it seemed), they really weren’t mine to keep. I had sold them, in a sense, when I sold the car.
Living for God is like finding a spare set of keys to a car you no longer own.
In fact, you have a whole lot of keys that aren’t yours.