By Claudine Lehman
We all like to receive promises, especially if they come from someone we trust. Promises can give hope in the midst of despair. Promises are the light at the end of a tunnel. Promises bring optimism to even the most pessimistic situation. Promises sustain us.
As children of the Heavenly Father, we are truly blessed in this regard. We have been given promises by the faithful Creator Himself. Those promises enable us to keep going when we no longer can see the way. We know that someday . . . somehow . . . they will be fulfilled because GOD SAID SO!
I remember a chorus we sang when I was a teen:
Every promise in the book is mine,
Every chapter, every verse, every line,
All the blessings of His love divine,
Every promise in the book is mine.
In Romans chapter 8, Paul lists some special promises God offers when we are caught in times of crisis.
Promise #1—“All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
The “all things” that happen are not necessarily good in themselves, but all together they combine to make good. Jacob thought he had lost his son Joseph (Genesis 42), and he cried “all these things are against me . . . .” He felt life had turned against him, but in the hand of God, what he saw as tragedy worked together for his whole family’s benefit. Joseph’s betrayal by his brothers and his slavery in Egypt became the salvation for the entire family . . . and ultimately for the nation of Israel. God is sovereign, and He works all things for good in His time.
(You may notice this promise is only for those who love God and are part of His family. All things do not necessarily work together for good for those outside of Christ.)
Promise #2—God will finish what He has begun in our lives. Romans 8:29-30
He has begun a work of faith in our hearts and promises to grow it. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestine to be conformed to the image of His son . . . Moreover, whom he did predestine, them he also called; and whom is called, them he also justified, and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
He knows, He predestines, He calls, He justifies, and He glorifies. It’s done. In God’s mind, you and I are already glorified. The plan God formulated is just as good as the plan accomplished. We can believe without a doubt that we will one day be glorified because God completes every work He begins.
Promise #3—He promises to give us victory in the midst of our crisis. Romans 8:31
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” In the midst of our crisis—physical and mental, real or imagined—we cling to any word of encouragement, especially from the Lord. We grasp for the concept of “conquering.” We want to be victors. And God has promised us “more than” in “all things.” What a promise!
Promise #4—God will keep us in His love. Romans 8:35-39
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We are secure in His love because God has promised.
You may wonder why God doesn’t give us answers in the midst of trial instead of promises. I suspect it’s because He knows we wouldn’t know how to handle the answers. In John 16:12, Jesus told his disciples, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now.” He alone knows when and where and how to give us answers, and until then, we have His promises.
Does God ever promise that Christians will be immune to crises? No. Christians and non-Christians are part of this world and its statistics. Until Christ returns, death and the consequences of sin will affect everyone. The rain falls on the just and the unjust.
Have God’s people EVER been removed from life’s crises? Yes.
- The children of Israel were spared from the trials of sickness, disease, worn out clothes and sore swollen feet for 40 years. [Exodus 15:26; Nehemiah 9:21]
- In Acts 28 Paul was protected from the effects of a snake bite. He just shook the viper off into the fire and went on about his business.
- Missionaries tell amazing stories of being removed from crises all around them. Even you and I have probably been spared from many accidents and mishaps without ever realizing it.
As we discussed last week, God meets unique situations in unique ways—creative ways tailored to each individual need. But “all these things”—the good, the bad—are a part of life. God has never protected everyone from everything forever. That’s saved for Heaven.
So, here’s the big question: What determines whether a Christian goes through a crisis or is delivered from a crisis? The sovereignty of God. Our part is to trust our sovereign God and rest in His promises.
We find two types of promises in the Word of God.
- Universal promises apply to all Christians all the time. [Ephesians 1:11; Romans 8:28] We can always claim these promises and expect God to fulfill them. But He reserves the right to fulfill even universal promises His way.
- Specific promises apply to some Christians some of the time. Psalm 91:7 states “A thousand shall fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.” In a battle or natural disaster, some Christians are spared and others are not. Some may escape one time, but not another. God is sovereign in HIS APPLICATION of the promise. With specific promises, deliverance lies with God’s sovereignty. If it is in His plan to apply the promise, He will do so. But we must be careful of assuming He always will. You see, God reserves the right to choose the time and situation to apply His promises meaningfully. He is under no obligation to cater to our whims.
So I sing: “Every promise in the book is mine, every chapter, every verse, every line, all the blessings of His love divine, every promise in the book is mine.”
In personal worship, God’s part is unconditional love, never-ending mercy and grace, precious promises, the constant presence and encouragement of the Holy Spirit, and all of His wonderful attributes. Our part is a determination and yearning to go hard after knowing Him which in turn leads to our yielding, believing and resting in His sovereignty.
What promise from God’s Word do you cling to the most? Would you share?
Here is another list of God’s attributes for you to work on:
God is TRUTHFUL! Numbers 23:19; Deuteronomy 32:4; 1 Samuel 15:29; Psalm 25:10; 31:5; 86:15; Isaiah 65:16; John 4:24; 8:26; Titus 1:2
God is UNCHANGING! Numbers 23:19; Psalm 119:89-91; Ecclesiastes 3:14; Isaiah 40:28; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17
God is SELF-CONTROLLED! Genesis 28:15; Exodus 3:14; Lamentations 3:22-23; Psalm 90:1-4; John 6:38-40; Acts 17:24-25; James 1:17
God is UNRESTRICTED! 1 Chronicles 29:11-12; 1 Samuel 2:6-8; Proverbs 21:1; Isaiah 55:11; Daniel 4:35; Romans 9:20-21; 11:34
God is WISE! Psalm 37:1-6; 92:5-9; 119:97-100; Proverbs 3:19-26; Isaiah 55:6-9; Jeremiah 51:15-17; Romans 11:33-36