Every January I ask God to give me a word to focus and guide my growth for the year. This year, God gave me the word “faith”, which I found interesting because to be honest, I thought I had worked at increasing my faith the previous year! I have to be honest, I was a bit concerned when I realized this was God’s word for me because increasing one’s faith is not usually accomplished through ease and comfort. God simply doesn’t mess around when He wants you to grow and as I suspected, the year has been ripe with faith growing opportunities. This past week brought another one…
For over a year, I have believed God had given me a very specific promise. I faithfully leaned into and prayed around that promise. In fact, friends and mentors prayed and believed with me. This week, it seemed time to act on the promise I was certain I had heard. I stepped out boldly and faithfully.
And I was told no…
It was audacious (but not unreasonable) request, so the no was not entirely surprising. At least not from a human point of view…But God does surprising things! And so I had fully expected a “yes”! I expected God to move in amazing ways to fulfill the promise I’d been given!
So had I heard incorrectly? What just happened?
I spent the next two days trying to make sense of what had just happened. And honestly being sad over the loss of what I had believed was to be mine! I was disappointed and somewhat disillusioned.
And then God showed up, just like He always does.
I spent time praying and talking to God while driving home from having dinner with a dear friend. I was simply being honest with God about my emotions and my confusion. And then I looked up and saw a rainbow…the ultimate symbol of God’s faithfulness to keep his promises.
That rainbow led me the entire way home. And it got me thinking about God’s promises. God promises us a lot of things! He promises to fight for us (Ex 14:14), and to give strength and power to the weak and weary (Isaiah 40:29). He promises that all who believe in him will receive eternal life (John 3:16) and he promises freedom from sin (John 8:36). He promises to comfort us (Psalm 23:4), deliver us (Psalm 50:15), and to never leave or forsake us (Deut. 31:8). He promises to work all for our good (Romans 8:28) and to complete the good work he began in us (Phil 1:6).
However, despite all of the things God DOES promise, there are many things he doesn’t. He doesn’t promise a house, or a spouse. He doesn’t promise children or your dream job. He doesn’t promise a reliable car or money to buy the newest iPhone. He doesn’t promise fame or even respect from others. He doesn’t promise ease or comfort or protection from suffering. In fact, God promises we will have trouble and go through hard times! He just promises to be with us through them!
My word for the year is “faith” so I thought I’d be learning about and growing my faith in God. And I am. But more than that, I am learning about God’s faithfulness. You see, faithfulness is part of His very being and His very character. Deuteronomy 7:9 says, “Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.” Even when life feels confusing, God is faithful. Hebrews 10:35-36 says, “So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.”
So I still don’t know what will come of the specific word I believed I was given. Maybe I heard incorrectly. Maybe God will reveal an even better way! As usual, it isn’t about me and my desires; it is all about God, his character, and his will for me! So in what ways has your faith been challenged? Are you confused, disillusioned, or disappointed? The good news is God is faithful to keep His promises. We can rest assured in that and must remind ourselves that what He promises is always better than what we thought we wanted in the first place!