Encountering God’s Promises When Life Hurts
by Tony Evans
There are times in our Christian experience when we don’t always feel like God keeps His promises. That might not be something most of us are willing to admit publicly, but most of us have probably felt it nonetheless. There are times when it looks like God said one thing, but the opposite is taking place. And it is during those times when most of us, to varying degrees, question how things really are.
When it comes to God’s promises, we know the theological doctrine that God cannot lie. We understand that cognitively. God can’t lie. But sometimes you may feel like He lied to you because what you felt and thought He said and what you are seeing simply do not match. They aren’t coming together.
The story is told of a pilot who was flying a four-passenger plane when the engine began to have problems. Unfortunately, there was only one parachute on the plane. So the pilot took the parachute, went to the door, and turned to the four passengers. He said, “Don’t panic. I’m just going to get some help.” Sometimes it may seem like the One who is in charge has bailed out on you. It may feel like His promises—designed to take you from point A to point B, or to right a wrong, or address a need—simply are not happening. They are not being fulfilled.
A greater understanding of how God’s promises work will help you as you go through these seasons of challenge and doubt. Encountering God’s promises, like all other things, happens on God’s terms—not ours. As I’ve said before, God’s ways are not our ways. His thoughts are higher than ours (Isa. 55:8–9). He is the great “unfiguroutable” God. But He has given us insight into how He works—especially with us as His creation—in His Word. By examining the principles and precepts laid out in His Word and applying them to our unique situations, we are able to navigate the unknowns of life in a spirit of peace, confidence, and clarity.
Abraham’s faith was made complete through this final act of total obedience and commitment to God. As a result, he transitioned from being just a child of God to a “friend of God.” Now, that’s a kingdom encounter we all want to have. It’s easy to sing the popular Christian song, “Friend of God,” but Scripture shows us it’s not so easy to enter that level of closeness and intimacy with the Most High God. If you want a similar level of closeness to God that ushers in the swearing of an oath to bring about the fulfillment of a divine promise, like Abraham had, then you also need to exhibit Abraham-level faith. This is a complete faith. A total faith. A faith that defies all logic. A faith that shuts down all arguments. A faith that is countercultural. A faith that is willing to give up the very thing that means the most to you, what you love dearly, in order to demonstrate your love for the Lord.
One reason Abraham’s story is such a well-known and retold story over and over again throughout history, and even today, is because within it lies the very principle to unlock what we all crave the most: closeness with our Creator. God felt Abraham’s love through Abraham’s actions. As a result, Abraham will forever be known as a friend of God (2 Chron. 20:7; Isa. 41:8). In addition, Abraham’s obedience in this very difficult, challenging, and confusing test brought about the fulfillment of a several-decades-old promise through the sanction of an oath.
This physical illustration reveals to us a spiritual principle that ought to govern our choices and actions today. The author of Hebrews says that Abraham received Isaac back as a type (Heb. 11:19). This is when a physical reality becomes a personal, spiritual experience. It is the experience God wants to give to believers today. God still tests. He still desires to know how much you love and trust Him. He wants to see that you are developed to the point that you will act in faith and not just talk in faith. Jehovah Jireh is your provider. He’s the great Provider. But He wants to see, first, your response to His leading and commands, especially in those times when you cannot figure out how in the world He is going to come through for you.
Trust Him. Obey Him. Honor Him. Encounter Him. The fulfillment of His promises are waiting for you.
Adapted from Kingdom Encounters: Experiencing More of God When Life Hurts by Tony Evans (©2020). Published by Moody Publishers. Used by permission.
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