Trusting the Promises
What does it mean to trust in the promises of God?
What happens if a promise we were counting on appears to fall short?
If all of God’s promises are true, then why do bad things happen?
Have you ever asked any of the above questions or something like them? If so, you are not alone! When it comes to trusting the promises of God, people have a lot of questions. This is especially true for people who have experienced challenges in life so difficult that no promise, even those found in the Bible, seem to provide sufficient hope and comfort.
This lesson is based heavily on the following sermon. You might want to watch it before going forward.
Okay, let’s continue our conversation about trusting God with this 60 second video.
Abraham is a great example of what it means to trust in God. At the very beginning of his journey, God made the following three incredible promises to Abraham:
I will make of you a great nation.
I will bless you and make your name great.
You will be a blessing…
and in you ALL the families of the earth shall be blessed.
Every single one of these promises was fulfilled (for greater details on how, see sermons above). So, in Abraham we see that even the most amazing promises can be fulfilled by God.
At this point, you may be thinking, “Well, that’s great for Abraham, but what about me?”
One of the challenges we face in trusting God’s promises is that we like to see desired results quickly and in ways that impact us personally, especially in times of great need.
The reality is that God’s promises don’t always work that way, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t working. Look at the following passage about the promises made to Abraham and his wife Sarah:
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith he received power of procreation, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, "as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore." All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. Hebrews 11:8-13
Re-read the last sentence. Abraham and Sarah did not see the fullness of God’s promises fulfilled in their lifetime, but you and I know they came true.
So, how were Abraham and Sarah able to keep their trust in God?
The answer is found in this passage from Romans:
Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become "the father of many nations," according to what was said, "So numerous shall your descendants be." He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith "was reckoned to him as righteousness." Romans 4:18-22
They kept their trust in God not through the witnessing of promises fulfilled, but through their faith. Check out this definition of faith according to Hebrews 11:1:
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Wait a minute!
Are you saying that if we want to experience the promises of God, we have to have faith, but even with the deepest faith we may not see all of the promises of God come true in our lifetime? If that is the case, then what do we gain through having faith?
First of all, “we” are not saying any of this – God is. “We” are just as challenged by this as you are.
In terms of the first question, you heard right. Even with the deepest faith, we may not see the fulfillment of all the promises of God in our lifetime.
As for the second question, what we gain through our faith is the same thing Abraham and Sarah gained through theirs. Take a look at these words:
Now the words, "it was reckoned to him," were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification. Romans 4:23-25
Did you catch that? Through the same faith that guaranteed God’s promises would come true for Abraham and Sarah (which, they did), we are guaranteed they will come true for us. Not only that, we are given a promise even greater than what Abraham could have ever known during his lifetime.
Our faith also teaches this: If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9
That is the ultimate promise! If we believe in Christ, we are promised an eternal life with God.
Here’s the thing though, we will never know this promise during our lifetime. It cannot be proven to us. We will only experience it when this life is over.
Just like Abraham and Sarah, we are called to believe in a promise that we will not fully see on this side of life. It will only come when we, like they, die in faith.
Ultimately, what is true about trusting others on this earth is true when it comes to trusting God.
The best way you can find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.
Some call that approach to life fool hearty. Some people call it faith.
Perhaps that’s why Paul referred to himself as “a fool for Christ.”
Questions for Reflection
1. Do you struggle at times to trust in the promises of God? Why or why not?
2. Which of God’s promises are easy for you to accept? Which ones are hardest?
3. Have you ever witnessed the fulfilling of a promise of God in your life? If not, is it enough for you to hear stories about the fulfilling of promises as told in scripture?
4. What does Abraham and Sarah’s story tell you about the nature of faith, hope, and trust in God?
If you’d like to learn a bit more about the nature of faith, read this article.
If you’d like to read the story of Abraham and Sarah, you can find it in Genesis 12:1-25:11.
If you have a thought to share or question to ask, feel free to post a comment below. We'd love to hear from you!