“God has a promise for you!” “He keeps His promises!” “God has a perfect plan for you! You just need to trust Him!”
Growing up in the Christian faith, I wouldn’t say I’m unfamiliar with the term, ‘Promises of God’. We sing about it, hear it being preached, and even pray about it countless times. To me, the promises of God felt like an ideal destination - like, once I’m in that promise, I would have reached my highest point of success. But in recent times, I find myself asking these questions a lot:
- “Does God really have a promise for me?”
- “What exactly is this supposed promise I have to hold on to?”
- “Will I ever live in the great plan God has for me?”
When the prayers you’ve been earnestly and desperately praying for a long time get just a, “Wait”, or worse, complete silence, it’s really hard to let the importance of this term settle into your heart.
As I was getting caught up with these frustrations and ranting about it all to God, He reminded me of this verse:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” - Jeremiah 29:11
Now you must be thinking, “Please! This is the cliche verse about God’s promises that I’ve heard countless times!” High-five if you had this thought, because I definitely did. Then God prompted me to read it again, but this time - with the context. So as I began to read the verses and chapters before, I realised that there was so much more to this verse than I first thought.
In this chapter, the Israelites were exiled from their homeland into the land of their enemy, the Babylonians. Then came a false prophet who prophesied to them that God would set them free in two years, only for Jeremiah to expose this as a lie. They would, in fact, have to live in Babylon for at least 70 years before God would bring them back to Jerusalem. And that was when Jeremiah went on to assure them with this statement from chapter 29, verse 11.
The Israelites weren’t exactly in the most favourable position when they received this Word from God. They were forced out of where they called home, out of their livelihood. They probably felt like everything they had was being robbed from them. When God gave His Word in 29:11, it came as a message of hope - but it was accompanied with the pain of having to wait that long for the promise to be fulfilled.
As I read it, I asked God - Why did it have to take that long? Was it necessary?
And He told me: the focus of it all was never about the promise, but about Him. The promise wasn’t the significant point of this event; it was the process toward that promise that God was emphasising. Similarly, maybe for many of us, we’d been struggling with believing that God has a perfect plan or promise for our situations because we haven’t seen anything yet. But I feel like maybe God wants to encourage you today, that what He’s been wanting you to focus on is not the “end product” but on Him and what He wants to do in you through this season of waiting.
And so, if you find yourself struggling, I just want to share with you three simple handles that perhaps can help you through this season:
There’s a saying that goes - “What you choose to focus on, is what will grow in you.” When we choose to focus on our struggles, it magnifies what is lacking and deficient in us. But when we choose to focus on God, it magnifies Him and who He is to us above and beyond our struggles.
In Jeremiah 29:11, God said that “HE KNOWS” the plans He has for us, not “you know”, “everyone knows” or “my-current-situation knows”. Perhaps the reason why God never ever shows us the full blueprint He has for our lives is because He desires for us to WALK IN FAITH with Him to trust and allow Him to guide our every step.
“For we live by faith, not by sight.” - 2 Corinthians 5:7
The opposite of faith isn’t doubt, but rather our sight. When we start to allow what we see to determine what things are or how they’re going to be, we leave no room for faith to take action. But when we start to place our focus on what God says as absolute truth, we leave a whole lot of room for faith. In the story of Abraham, God promised him a son. But even after a long time, he did not SEE it come to fulfillment. Yet, though there were definitely ups and downs in his faith, he still kept his faith in God. He chose to trust Him; to trust in His Word more than what he saw. True enough, God gave him a son at 100 years old (which is crazy, by the way).
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” - Hebrews 11:1
And so, if we truly want to position ourselves to walk in God’s promises for us, we need to first shift our perspective. From one of sight to one of FAITH. It may seem impossible for some of us, but trust in Him like Abraham did, for nothing is impossible with God. The more impossible it is, the more God can do through your situation to show you how real He is to you and bring Himself utmost glory.
When we hear the word ‘waiting’, our immediate definition is one that requires us to pretty much not do anything but wait around for something to happen. But often God’s definition of a ‘waiting’ season is one that requires action.
In the verses after Jeremiah 29:11, its says:
“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” - Jeremiah 29:12-13
Often, what God desires for us in our time of ‘waiting’ is for us to posture our hearts towards Him. That, amidst all the answers we want, we seek Him more than anything else. So perhaps what God wants to do in your life now is simply to help you grow closer to Him. This season of waiting and uncertainty will create space for you to depend on and grow in intimacy with Him - a priority that perhaps was once occupied by the other things in life.
So, what is the posture of our hearts today? If it has drifted away or been anchored to inferior foundations, I pray that we will choose to reposition it right back toward God.
Lastly - and I feel this is the most precious truth of all - is that through everything - God desires to reveal to us the Person of Jesus.
For many of us, maybe we’ve been singing week in and out - over many years - about the greatness of God. How He’s the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Beautiful Saviour, Redeemer, and our Champion. But how many times do we actually believe in these characteristics we proclaim? Maybe they’ve become mere words of a song we love jamming to. I’m guilty of that.
But I realised that it’s especially in these hardest of times - the seasons of waiting - that when we declare these words, it truly resonates within us.
When we start to believe and set our focus on God, He reveals more about Himself to us in a deep and personal manner. Not that we need to go through a hard time to know God more, because He moves in positive times, too! But rather, let’s not dread every season we are in. Instead, let’s also allow God to reveal what He wants to reveal about Himself to us in every season.