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.
Dawdling service at restaurants gets under my skin. (The only thing worse is fast food at a slow drive through.) At lunch not long ago we got dawdling service from our server. Here’s what happened.
I never let on to the waiter that I was miffed, yet inside my fuse was burning. Here’s why:
- The table next to us ate and left before we did, though we arrived at the same time.
- Our water glasses were often empty and the food order came out wrong.
- The waiter fouled up the bill.
- I was late getting back to work.
But then, just before we left, I felt like a complete idiot. The waiter made mention that it was his first day. You see, the problem wasn’t his incompetence.
It was my impatience.
Life hands us a line of slow servers. God shows us the best way to disarm our short fuse.
Close one eye and look closely at a marble. It seems massive. In fact, the marble is all you see. It dwarfs everything else. But its size is an illusion.
A basketball is bigger. The planet earth is even bigger. Come to think of it, God is infinitely bigger than your marble. Your problems are like that.
(Photo by Sarah Charlesworth, CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
Life is filled with marbles. When you fixate on your marbles, you can’t see the reality that they are small in comparison to God’s power.
Sure, they’re real. Of course they hurt. But your life is more than your problems, just as the world is more than your marbles. Or it can be. You can stop staring at your marbles. You only need to sit up, blink a few times, and look around.
God is much bigger than your marbles.
Problems never just go away or take care of themselves. The Lord will patiently wait and permit the circumstances to compel us to do what we should have done at the beginning.
Remember Jacob? Before his sons could purchase any more grain for the famine, he was required to bring the very person Jacob had refused to release into God’s control—his youngest son, Benjamin. In Jacob’s own words, “My son shall not go down with you” (Gen. 42:38).
However, like straws loaded on a camel’s back, day after parched day of the famine finally took their toll. It’s the same with us.
But the weight on our shoulders isn’t ours to bear.
Our problems keep us in a corner until we turn to God.
Whenever I have a doctor’s appointment, I always request the first appointment of the day. I figure the earlier my appointment, the less time I sit in the waiting room counting fish in the aquarium.
But it isn’t so. I may have a time scheduled, but it’s entirely the doctor’s discretion when I see him. I find the same true with Dr. God.
Dr. God fills our lives with waiting rooms:
- Your car in a traffic jam.
- Your office when five o’clock is slow to come.
- The grocery store when the line is long, it’s the cashier’s first day, and she’s out of receipt tape. (Ask me how I know.)
Inconveniences cause delays and frustrations. But there are other moments of waiting far more difficult and confusing.
You have plans. This appointment should be over by now. You’re ready to move on the next event, the next step in the grand plan.
But you wait because God has plans for you.
In light of the world’s ugliness, it’s tempting to hole up on some mountain and just wait for God to come get us. It was no different in Jesus’ day.
Jesus brought three of His disciples up on the slopes of a “high mountain,” probably Mount Hermon. Six days after the prediction of His death in Jerusalem, Jesus gave affirmation of His glory, divine nature, and coming Kingdom. Jesus was “transfigured” on the mountain—revealing His true glory.
In light of such an awesome revelation, Peter had an odd request.
Suddenly, Moses and Elijah also appeared in glorious cameo appearances. They spoke of Jesus’ “departure” at Jerusalem, the very event Jesus had just revealed to His disciples in Caesarea Philippi (Luke 9:31). Peter blurted:
Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah. —Matt. 17:4
What was Peter suggesting with these tabernacles?
He was asking Jesus for the same thing you and I ask Him for.
If you’re ever on the island of Anglesey, Wales, be sure and visit a town with one of the longest names in the English language.
It’s the quaint little village named Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. No joke. (The short form is Llanfairpwllgwyngyll).
Click play to hear a Welsh speaker pronounce the name:
The name means: “The Church of St. Mary in a hollow of white hazel, near to the rapid whirlpool, and to St. Tisilio Church, near to a red cave.”
As strange as that mouthful may seem, it strikes me as quite biblical. A name in the Bible is often a description of the person himself or herself—or of what the parents would like their child to become.
God gives names as well. Even more significant is when He changes a name.
In fact, did you know God will give you a new name?
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.
Often God puts us in impossible situations. We find it frustrating, sure—but it’s never meant to be.
In fact, those unreasonable and often unbearable circumstances are meant to do just the opposite. They’re meant to encourage us.
With the Sea of Galilee in view on the Plain of Bethsaida, Jesus pointed to thousands of people and said to His twelve disciples: “You give them something to eat!” (Mark 6:37).
You can hear the frustration in the disciples’ reply: “Should we spend half a year’s wages to feed them?”
Forget for a moment you’ve heard this story before. Think instead of your current problem.
- Your financial picture is unmanageable.
- A close relationship has been strained for years.
- You’ve been unemployed for much longer than you imagined.
Whatever it is you’re facing today, you face one of many impossible situations.
Now go back to Jesus’ crazy command to His disciples. His solution for them is also His solution for you.
Let me show you why.
It happened again. A man I know shook my hand and said, “Let’s grab a coffee soon; I’ll call you.”
I didn’t say it, but I wanted to reply: “No, you won’t.”
I always try to give someone the benefit of the doubt when he or she makes a commitment. But honestly, it doesn’t take many times for someone to fail keeping a promise, and I lose confidence in the person.
The only way we can trust that people will keep their word is if they have kept their word.
The same is true of God’s promises.