This is a guest post from Christina Girma’s blog.Check out Her blog (Inspired By Him). I hope it blesses you all as it has blessed me 🙂
This week I would like to discuss something that is very important to all of us. Although it might sound very simple, I want you to to really think about each word you read. In the end, carefully ask yourself this question: “What do God’s promises mean to me?”
Before we get into it, I hope you understand the significance of a promise. A promise is a declaration – it’s the assurance of something. When someone gives you their word, that word is to be trusted by you, and fulfilled by the one who made the promise. For example, marriage begins with the union of two people bound in their promise to love, cherish, and be faithful to each other. Secondly, although promises are verbal declarations, they are further validated when carried out into actions. If you promise to love, then your behavior, character and life must be a reflection of the promise you made to actually love. A promise that is not followed with an action loses it’s credibility, and gives a reflection of a poor character on the one who initially made a promise.
One of my favorite verses in the bible is found in Psalms chapter 119, verse 50; it says, “My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life”. From the moment I laid eyes on this verse, each time I think about it something within me can’t help but react – it causes an immediate emotional reaction within me. It becomes overwhelming to know that there is a God who has made me a promise strong enough to sustain me until this very moment. A promise that He will never back out on because He is faithful, and a promise that I never did anything to deserve. Throughout the bible there are many promises that we see God make to His people. Promises of rescue, protection, guidance, victory, comfort, and much more. In all instances we simply see Him giving His word of assurance and following that word of assurance with His actions. Although there are many references to use, I would like to focus on one particular man named Joseph.
If you would like to read in detail, Joseph’s story begins in Genesis chapter 37. In a family of 12, Joseph was the youngest son to his father Jacob. Being the youngest son, his father loved and favored him the most. This favoritism began causing jealousy in the hearts of his older brothers and would eventually lead them to do the unspeakable. One night, Joseph had a dream. He told his brothers that in his dream they had all been in the harvest field tying up the corn, when all of a sudden he saw their sheaves of corn bow down to his. Another night, he had a different dream in which he saw the sun and moon, and eleven stars all bowing down to him as if he were a king. Naturally, this only increased the jealousy of his brothers against him which led them to conspire against him and sell him off to a merchant without their father’s knowledge. Eventually Joseph ends up in Egypt where he is sold as a slave to a rich man named Potiphar. To make matters worse, Potiphar’s wife lusts after Joseph and tries to pursue him. When he rejects her she makes false accusations against him, and get’s him sent to prison for years.
Now keep in mind, this man’s life seems only to have gotten worse after seeing these dreams. In fact, the dreams he saw years before, now seem to be completely irrelevant to where his life is at and where it seems to be heading. Perhaps what seems even more heartbreaking in all of this, is that he has done nothing wrong. You see, sometimes we hear or see the promises that God made us, and because He is faithful to keep His word He won’t fall short of bringing it to completion… but the question is, do we trust His promises enough to hang onto Him no matter what? What do God’s promises mean to you?
Joseph’s story only begins to change when years later, the Pharaoh is troubled by a dream he keeps having. After many tried to interpret the dream and failed, one of Pharaoh’s servants who used to be in jail with Joseph remembered that Joseph had the ability to interpret dreams and that he was still in jail. Pharaoh then requests for him to come out of prison and asks for his dream to be interpreted. When all that Joseph had interpreted about Pharaoh’s dream came to pass, Joseph was then released and made Governor of Egypt. Meanwhile, back in the land of Canaan where Joseph’s brothers and father lived there was a famine. Their father sends them to Egypt to buy corn from the Governor, not realizing that the Governor they would have to bow down to in respect was the little brother they sold off years ago. Isn’t it interesting that Joseph had to go from being “daddy’s favorite boy” – to being a slave – to being a prisoner – and then to being a Governor before the promise of God was fulfilled in his life?
He had to hit the lowest and most miserable place in his life, before he could see the days of these promises being fulfilled. Of course, I am not saying that you will always have to hit rock bottom before you see good things coming your way but think about all the traumatic experiences he went through. He watched in fear and probably even cried as his own brothers sold him off to a merchant. Then he became a slave against his will, and at last got sent to jail without having committed a crime. Think about what must have been going through his mind as life seemed to be spiraling out of control. Think about what he must have been thinking during all the dark nights he spent alone in prison for years. What did God’s promise mean to Joseph?
For most of us today it doesn’t take long before we toss out God’s promises and completely forget what He has already set out to do in our lives. For a moment, let’s forget years in prison or slavery – If we were ‘Joseph’ we would have probably given up on whatever God had promised us the minute we sensed our brothers getting jealous. We would have gotten sensitive and emotional, or upset, and walked away in that instance. And that itself is the issue with so many of us. We have no problem receiving the promise of God, or even asking God to hurry up and fulfill it. However, as soon as the journey of fulfilling that promise begins we want to crawl under a rock. We need to understand that it’s not the promise of God that we lack in our lives, instead it’s the trust to see God’s promises being fulfilled, so I ask again – what do God’s promises mean to you?
Look at the Israelites, God made them a promise to bring them out of the land of Egypt which He did. He promised them that He would defend them against Pharoh’s armies, and He did. He promised to provide them with food, protection, shelter, victory, and He did. Yet their rebellious, stubborn, doubtful and impatient ways delayed some of those promises from being fulfilled because they constantly lacked the trust they needed, to see these promises complete. Keep in mind unlike Joseph, the Israelites were in constant communication with God through Moses. They knew when God was angry with them, they knew when He was pleased with them, they saw God perform wonders and miracles right before their eyes. Yet, after all of that we see how lightly they regarded God’s promise and how quickly they would fall back in doubting God and His word. Whereas Joseph, he had no one to encourage him. The only hope he had were the two dreams he saw as a young boy, and the trust in God that no matter what happened to him, God would still remain faithful.
There are a few things we always ought to keep in mind. First off, when God makes a promise it’s an assurance that whatever it is, it will happen. As we have mentioned earlier He is faithful to keep His word, and His word will always be followed by an action – nothing He says will ever go in vain. Secondly, we need to remind ourselves that with His promise also comes hope. Hope is there to remind you, and to help you hang on during the journey of fulfillment. It’s there to help produce endurance for the journey towards seeing God’s promises being fulfilled.
Joseph endured many challenges, and traumatic experiences before he saw the promise of God being fulfilled. At any time he could have thrown his hands up in the air and walked away, and I’m sure we could have all justified that but he didn’t. He remained still and held onto the hope that came with that promise because that’s how valuable and meaningful God’s promise meant to him. If there is one thing Joseph fully understood despite the many challenges he faced was that, God was going to remain faithful and keep His word. Third, we need to trust that if God spoke it, He will bring it to completion in His time. If He’s planned it, and promised it, then He (not you) will get it done! Learn to take a step back, and watch Him show He is faithful.
To conclude I will leave you with this reminder. When the promise of God begins to work in your life, you will face trials. You will face challenges and go through situations that will often try to pull you down and keep you away from seeing the promise of God being fulfilled in your life. Sometimes, such challenges and trials will be permitted by God not to discourage you, but to allow for your character to be built, and for your endurance to grow stronger. Remember, it’s not what you go through but your attitude and character while going through the challenges that will determine your ability of seeing God’s promises fulfilled in your life. Hang on to the hope found in His word and remember that He (God) who started it, will get you through it and complete it.
God is not human, that He should lie, not a human being, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill? – Numbers 23:19