Counting on Promises
It’s too easy for me to discount promises. I remember when Josh and I were first dating, he promised to be clear with his feelings and intentions, but I let scars from my past allow me to doubt his ability to do that. I fell back into my habit of overanalyzing details of the relationship and questioning his motives.
It was hard for me to believe Josh’s promise to lead our relationship until I actually witnessed it happening.
Fortunately, not all people need to see to believe.
In Romans 4, Paul explains how Abraham counted on the promises God made to him in the past in order to turn his doubting into faith.
Abraham and Sarah had desperately wanted a baby and it wasn't happening, so Sarah sent Hagar, her servant, to sleep with Abraham. When Hagar got pregnant, Sarah was filled with bitterness and jealousy and anger. That was the very blessing she had wanted, but she had taken matters into her own hands. Abraham was already in his eighties when Hagar was pregnant. Sarah let her fear completely dictate her decisions.
So often I am like Sarah, rushing God by taking matters into my own hands. I don’t want to wait on God’s timing – He seems too slow. I crave instant gratification, and I falsely believe that if I strive just a little bit more, work a little harder, and push a little farther, I will attain what I desire.
The problem is that in all my striving, I allow fear to run me into overanalysis. Just like Sarah, I begin to grow doubtful and then resent my decisions. For more on this issue, read this post or this post.
I’m still learning. Like Sarah, I need God’s help to quit striving and simply trust.
So what happens in their story? Years pass and now Abraham is almost 100.
The Lord had told him that He will bless Abraham so that he will be the father of many nations. His offspring will start this blessed line for generations. Abraham didn’t have any offspring with Sarah, but the Lord was promising many nations.
Three decades had passed. When would this promise come to fruition?
I find it fascinating that God’s promise to Abraham was far bigger than anything he could imagine. He wanted to be the father of one baby. God wanted him to be the father of nations. God wants to do the seemingly impossible. We just have to trust and let Him!
Thankfully, Abraham is a strong example of unwavering faith:
“No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew in faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was ‘counted to him as righteousness.’ But the words ‘it was counted to him’ were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Rom. 4:20-25).
Paul explains (so many years later!) that Abraham’s faith grew because he was fully convinced that God would honor His promises.
Abraham became the father of nations.
Abraham and Sarah didn’t have a baby instantly, but they had a baby in God’s timing – Issac – who started the line directly to Jesus.
I love how Matthew explains Abraham isn’t the only one who is credited as righteous with belief. We are promised to be credited as righteous if we believe and live in the peace of our belief instead of trying to do it on our own.
There is nothing we can do can earn forgiveness. There is nothing we can do to earn a promise of God. Instead, it's all about what Jesus did, so we have to rest in that.
Obviously, that is easier said than done.
As much as Josh is a reliable man whose promises I can trust, God is even more reliable. Josh makes mistakes, sins, and forgets. God is perfect, holy, and forward thinking. If He promises something, we don’t have to wait for Him to prove it.
What does God promise His children in the Bible? What can YOU count on TODAY? I’d love to hear your favorite promise found in Scripture!