Sometimes, we know it in the deepest cores of who we are, that God has made a promise to us. The promise may be that we will find a spouse, or that we will be offered a certain position, or that we will be healed, or that we will have a child, or that we will have greater influence, or that we will come out of this difficult season.
Just as God promised Abraham that He would make a great nation out of his descendants (Genesis 12: 1-3), sometimes we know that God has made a big promise to us, too.
And usually there is some type of stepping out in faith that precedes the promise-fulfilled. And in our excitement about that which has been promised, we jump into action, just as Abraham left his home country and moved to the place that would be the home of the fulfillment of a promise (Genesis 12:4).
Sometimes after we leap out in faith, we realize what a big step we have taken, and we look around and panic. We realize that we didn’t carefully calculate the cost and we find great fear in the unknown and subsequently, sometimes, we make irrational choices.
Just as Abraham pretended his wife, Sarah, was his sister so that Pharaoh would be gracious to the foreigners living in the land, and he risked the safety of his wife out of fear (Genesis 12:10-20), sometimes we make fear-based decisions because a promise unfulfilled isn’t tangible and it’s scary.
But there’s hope in a promise, and hope is a bigger emotion than fear, if accompanied by trust. And so in spite of fear, we still believe.
And the God who created us, who knows how prone we are to disbelief and discouragement, makes ways to remind us that His promises are good, just as he did for Abraham (Genesis 15:1).
And even though we have a God who is faithful, whose promises are true, who reminds us of His promises, we question. We begin to think with our logic that says “That isn’t possible,” “I haven’t seen movement on that yet,” “Maybe it wasn’t God’s promise, but rather my own desires” and the list goes on.
But if we listen when we ask our questions, our faithful God answers us with truth, and goodness, and continued promises, just as he did for Abraham (Genesis 15:4-20)
Promises aren’t always fulfilled immediately or quickly. Sometimes promises have been sitting unfulfilled for so long that hope becomes dusty, washed out, and beaten down.
And we decide that someone has to do something. So we take control. We decide that we will make our promise come true somehow. Sometimes we adjust our standards very slightly, or we create elaborate plans and connections, or we make emotional decisions that will affect us a long time, just as Sarah did, when she wasn’t getting pregnant as promised, and she decided that Abraham should sleep with her slave in order to have children (Genesis 16). Sometimes, we take on the responsibility of fulfilling God’s promise. Sometimes we make a mess in the waiting.
Sometimes our messes are so messy that we can’t make a plan to clean up the mess, much less remember the hope that led to impatience that led to the mess, just as Sarah did after her slave had a child by Abraham (Genesis 16:5-6). Sometimes we feel like God has abandoned our promise, or worse, that He has abandoned us. And each time we are reminded of the unmet promise, we get a bit more cynical. Sometimes our cynicism leads to bitterness, like the kind of bitterness that caused Sarah to laugh when, yet again, God promised her that she would have children (Genesis 10-15).
Yet in spite of our fear, our disbelief, our hopelessness, our questioning, our control issues, our messes, our cynicism, and our bitterness, God remains faithful. God, because He is God, blows out the natural, the reasonable, the expected, and the logical to fulfill his promises just as he did for Abraham and Sarah. At the age of 100, Abraham and Sarah had a baby. 25 years after God promised, God delivered (Genesis 21:1-7). Our God cannot break a promise; “For no matter how many promises God makes, they are “yes” in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20)”
The truth is; promises always come with a story, but maybe it’s the story that makes the promises-fulfilled even greater tales.