“But you promised!!
Most of us have said that to someone who disappointed us: a parent, a child, a spouse, a supervisor or friend. Yes, even people we love, and who have loved us well, sometimes fail to follow-though on a promise they made. How do you feel when someone breaks a promise to you due to forgetfulness, or due to their substituting someone or something else as a higher priority?
But there’s one promise-keeper you can count on: God! Since a promise is only as good as the person who makes it, you can rely on what He says.
One of the most helpful spiritual disciplines for me has been memorizing the timeless promises of God’s Word, which are firmly fastened to God’s character. According to Titus 1:2, God “cannot lie.” Numbers 23:19 also echoes this truth: “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”
As a depression-prone Christ-follower who has served in vocational ministry for over 50 years, I desperately need to be reminded of what the Lord has pledged. What follows are several areas of need that often characterize me, along with one or more Bible texts that offer a direct or implied promise that buttresses my faith and instills resilience. I memorized these promises years ago and preach them to myself often.
With which felt need will you most identify?
When I’m depressed
God’s Word promises that He will sustain me during severe episodes of depression.
These promises don’t necessarily include ending my depression, especially not once-and-for-all. Rather, they suggest that He will assuage the severity of the episode, shorten its stay and use it for a good end (my good and His glory). These promises don’t necessarily refer directly to depression, yet nonetheless are applicable to it. His reassurances that massage my heart often come through the pen of a human writer speaking of God’s help, rather than representing a direct statement by the Father or Jesus. Since the Holy Spirit inspired those verses, I classify them as indirect promises.
- Psalm 3:3 ” But You, O God, are a shield about me, my glory, and the one who lifts my head.”
- Psalm 54:4 “Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the sustainer of my soul.”
- Psalm 73:26 “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.”
- Psalm 42:5 “Why are you in despair O my soul, and why have you sunk down within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.”
- Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you,”
- Isaiah 30:18 “The Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore, He waits on high to have compassion on you.”
When I’m Weary, Overloaded and Restless
- Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls.” (Some of God’s promises are conditional. My responsibility here is to “Come,” to rush into the Lord’s presence and plead for the rest He wants to provide.)
- Isaiah 40:28-31 “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the creator of the ends of the earth, does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power, Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”
When I’m Fighting a Strong Temptation
- 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide a way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.”
- 2 Thessalonians 3:3 “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” (When I don’t trust in these promises, I heed the enemy’s voice that insists that my yielding is inevitable. I figure I’ll give in eventually, so why keep trying to resist the lure? I must tell myself that if God’s Word is true, then my yielding is not inevitable and that He’ll answer my plea for strength to resist. It boils down to a battle in my mind, a battle of belief! Sadly, it is possible to enjoy a sin so much that we don’t always plead with God for the strength to resist.)
When I Don’t See Observable Fruit in My Ministry
- 1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your work is not in vain.” (The “therefore” alludes to prior chapter content where Paul cites evidence of Christ’s resurrection and discloses the nature of our own resurrected bodies, That our toil will not be in vain is as sure as Christ’s resurrection, and ours!)
- Galatians 6:7-9 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.” (Imagine: Paul applies the sow-reap principle positively. So keep on “sowing to the Spirit” through your teaching, evangelism and other ministries!)
When I’m Pessimistic about the Future and Overwhelmed with the Troubles of this Life
- John 14:1-3 ” Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (Notice two things. Though some things about the new heaven and new earth remain a mystery, it is first and foremost a place where we will be with Jesus! Also, Jesus makes an emphatic remark here. In one sense it doesn’t add anything new to His promise, yet He said, “If it were not so, I would have told you!” I like that! He realized that some of us would need those emphatic words!)
- Revelation 21:4 (Regarding life in the new heaven and new earth) “He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain.” (The stock value of Kleenex will dip dramatically!)
When I’m Discouraged about Ongoing Sin and Failures
Romans 8:30 “Whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”
“Called” here refers God’s initiative in calling us to salvation. “Glorified” refers to a future state of perfection, when we will sin no more and relationship conflicts among Christians will be reconciled. All sinful propensities and bad habits will be a thing of the past. BUT just as Paul employed the past tense in reference to our conversion to Christ and justification (receiving not only pardon for sin but Jesus’ righteousness credited to us), he also used the past tense in citing our glorification. Yet it has not happened yet!
Scholars call this a rare example in God’s Word of the “prophetic past tense.” The truth of future glorification of Christ-followers is so certain that in God’s eyes, it has already happened!
I realize it is an outdated analogy, but when I meditate on Romans 8:30 I tell myself, “Terry, if that doesn’t light your fire, your logs are all wet!”
Which set of promises means most to you today? Consider memorizing at least one of the related Bible verses and preach it to yourself often. (Just don’t fall asleep during your own sermon!)
Who else could benefit from this post? Route it to him or her today.