Don’t hold God to promises he never made. God is trustworthy to keep his promise, but it won’t be quick, easy, or fully explained. Will still you trust him?
- We know God never promised an easy life, but then we wonder why he allows us to suffer?
- We know God never promised to answer every prayer with an immediate, “Yes!” But we struggle with unanswered prayers.
- And we know we were never promised perfect health or healing, but the physical pain we (and those we care about) seems more than we can bear.
I’ve seen a lot of people get derailed in life and in faith, because they were holding God to promises he never made… and then life got difficult and God didn’t just “fix” it, so they lost their faith. There’s this verse in the end of Joshua that I read a few months ago that’s been stuck in my head. At this point, Israel has come out from Egypt with Moses, and then Moses died and Joshua led Israel through the conquest where they conquered the people living in the Promised Land and the tribes have now all received their land.
“So the LORD gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their fathers, and they took possession of it and settled there. The LORD gave them rest on every side according to all he had sworn to their fathers. None of their enemies were able to stand against them, for the LORD handed over all their enemies to them. None of the good promises the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed. Everything was fulfilled.”
Joshua 21:43–45 CSB
It’s a remarkable thing to think… “None of the good promises the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed. Everything was fulfilled.” This isn’t pointing back to God’s promise to free Israel from slavery in Egypt; it’s anchored in God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3.
Here are three reminders about God’s Promises.
It’s Not Going to be Quick
Israel’s fulfilled promise took at least 700 years – but the LORD didn’t forget his promise to Abraham. God promised Abraham two things: land and people. What good would the land be without descendants to populate it? If the land would be great, there would need to be many people. And that takes time.
Remember this, God is never late. When your timeline and God’s don’t align, guess whose needs to be recalibrated? When Abraham died, he only had one “son of promise.” ONE! And whenever Abraham or Isaac or Jacob or Moses or anyone else tried to speed up God’s timeline by taking a shortcut, it didn’t work out so well.
It’s Not Going to be Easy
Abraham trusted God to simply make this happen. Give me children. Give me the land. But he never got the green light. God never promised to just do things like it’d all be simple and clean and packaged in a pretty box with a neat little bow. Abraham, and then Israel, needed to actually trust God.
Too often, we want to experience the godly life without actually needing faith. We want to see how everything will happen… but that eliminates the need for faith. The uncertainty provides the context where our faith can grow, because in the midst of the difficulty we know we can trust God to keep his promise.
God Won’t Explain Every Detail
Abraham was never told why he needed to wait until he was 100 years old for Isaac to finally be born. Also consider Joseph, who never got an explanation for why he was betrayed by his brothers, sold to an Egyptian as a slave, framed as a criminal and thrown in jail… but decades later when his brothers come to him looking for food during a great famine, he is able to say to them, “What you meant for evil, God intended for good.”
God doesn’t always explain himself. He doesn’t need to.
- When Abraham felt like God made promises too big to keep, God was still trustworthy.
- When Isaac was placed on the offering altar, God was still trustworthy.
- When Jacob ran away to save his life from his brother who wanted to kill him, God was still trustworthy.
- When Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt, God was still trustworthy.
- When Israel had been slaves in Egypt for 400 years, God was still trustworthy.
- When Pharaoh let the Israelites leave Egypt but then changed his mind and trapped them in the desert between their army and the Red Sea, God was still trustworthy.
- When Moses was on Mt. Sinai for too long and Israel made an idol because their faith wavered, God was still trustworthy.
The trials in life are not evidence that God has forgotten his people. God is utterly trustworthy to keep his promises… he will use all things to complete the good work of godliness that he began in you through the gospel.
“I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 1:6 CSB