We all know what happens next. Charlie Brown runs to kick the football, and Lucy yanks it away at the last second. Charlie lands flat on his back after kicking the air with all his might, and is disappointed once more, after another one of Lucy’s broken promises.
From a young age, we learn to make promises: “Honest Promise” - “Pinky-Promise” - “I swear!” Anybody remember in Anne of Green Gables, when Anne Shirley and Diana Barry make their “Solemn Vow”?
We all know what a promise IS…It can be written or verbal. The one who makes it is bound by honor, conscience or law to do it, and the recipient has the right to expect it to be done. You might tell your kids, “I promise to get you an ice cream after school.” You might have a written agreement with a landlord or bank where you, “promise to pay the rent on time in exchange for a place to live.”
The trouble is, you and I are like Lucy, in that we don’t always keep the promises we make. Sometimes circumstances don’t allow, or we forget, or we are just plain selfish, or something else. Napoleon Bonaparte wisely said, “The best way to keep one’s word is not to give it.”
BUT! God is not like us!
He is bound by Himself to keep His promises. That’s why we can REST and not worry He’d ever forget or break a promise. The Bible says that God has given His children “precious and magnificent promises” (2 Peter 1:4)
HERE'S A FEW THAT CAME TO MIND...
Jesus said He’d never leave you nor forsake you.
God will be a father to the fatherless.
God will bring us to heaven.
All the spiritual blessings in the heavenly places are ours in Christ.
If we need wisdom, and ask for it, He’ll give it.
Last week I found out I need to have a medical procedure done. A biopsy will be needed. I'm not unique. Everyone has these little, or bigger, scary, worrisome, troubling things of all sorts come alone. I say (we say) I believe God, when He makes a promise. I say I believe Him because He is faithful. He does not change. “every word of God is true” (Prov 30:5). After all, many years ago, I had put my entire life into His hands based on his promise to save anyone who would call on the name of Christ.
So why is it so hard to “rest” in His promises when life gets hard? Rest that is truly peaceful, like being able to lean on something, rely on something. Quiet, tranquil peace.
- Why do we panic in our heart/emotions?
- Why do we jump to the worst possible outcome, the thing we fear most?
- Why do we want to run away from the difficulty?
- Why do we try to control the situation, frantically taking things in our own hands?
I confess I have done all of these things, and more, over the years. But panic, fear, running away, controlling…none of these things are restful.
Why is it so hard to REST?
There are lots of reasons, but I’m convinced that the enemy of our souls, Satan, is prowling around like a roaring lion, trying to attack us, at our weakest moments. (1 Peter 5:8) He’s looking for the chinks in our spiritual armor, and trying to tempt us to doubt God’s promises, just like he did with Adam and Eve, raising thoughts like "Is God really good?" Or this one...maybe our faith in God is weak. Maybe we’ve been leaving thoughts of God to Sundays only, and haven’t been cultivating our relationship with Him every day.
I want to REST in God's PROMISES. But how?
DAVID KNEW HOW:
"Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you." (Psalm 116:7)
"Surely I have composed and quieted my soul." (Psalm 131:2)
Recently I was blessed, truly, to be able to share these very encouraging thoughts with some ladies at our church. They were SO VERY HELPFUL for me as I sat in the doctor’s office last week. I hope they will help you too.
In Psalm 63, David gave me four ways to rest in God’s promises in difficult times.
O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips will praise You.
4 So I will bless You as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
5 My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips
6 When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches,
7 For You have been my help,
And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to You;
Your right hand upholds me.
9 But those who seek my life to destroy it,
Will go into the depths of the earth.
10 They will be delivered over to the power of the sword;
They will be a prey for foxes.
11 But the king will rejoice in God;
Everyone who swears by Him will glory,
For the mouths of those who speak lies will be stopped.
#1 think about Who God is, and what He is like?
David thought about who God is and what He is like. "I shall seek you earnestly (v1)...I have seen you in the sanctuary...to see your power and glory (v2)...your lovingkindness" (v3)
I'm making myself do the same thing. I thought of just a few.
- GOD WON'T LIE. “Every word of God proves true.” (Proverbs 30:5) He is absolutely trustworthy and has proven so in the past. He said in scripture that He would create a great nation from Abraham, and He did it. He promised a Messiah, and Jesus Christ was the fulfillment. He promised take care of me, and when I had cancer in 2002 He did, in every imaginable way.
- GOD WON'T CHANGE. He is faithful to His word. If He says it, He will do it. He has kept my mind peaceful when I have focused on Him. “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on You.” (Isaiah 26:3)
- GOD IS PERFECTLY HOLY. He doesn’t make mistakes.
- GOD IS LORD OF LORDS. He is sovereign over the universe. Both the seen and unseen things.
Health/disease, wealth/poverty, rulers/slaves, believers/unbelievers. All people, nature, planets/stars, micro-organisms and atomic particles. And by the way, that includes things that need biopsies.
- GOD WILL NOT DEVIATE FROM HIS PURPOSES. “Whatever the LORD pleases, He does…” (Ps.135:6)
- GOD LOVES ME. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only born son, that whoever would believe in Him would be saved.” (John 3:16)
- GOD HAS A PLAN FOR ME AND HAS THE POWER TO ACCOMPLISH IT. It’s a good plan and brings Him glory.
“What comes in your mind when you think about God
is the most important thing about us.” A.W.Tozer
#2 Remember Fulfilled promises
David remembered the many times God had kept His word. "I remember you...I meditate on You" (v6) ..."You have been my help" (v7)
I love remembering that the righteous have been cared for. When I had cancer in 2002 I had my share of anxious thoughts, but there were so many blessings during that year, as I saw how God was working in and through me. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 37:25
“I have been young and now I am old,
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
Or his descendants begging bread.”
"Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6)
#3 Cling Tightly to God
David knew he had to hold on tight. "My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me." (v8) The Hebrew word “cling” means to stick to, cling to, hold on to” “a permanent, dissoluble union, as a husband is to be united to his wife Gen 2:24” according to John Mac Arthur. It’s actually a command. “You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name.” (Deuteronomy 10:20)
“Whom have I in heaven but You, and besides You, I desire nothing on earth.” Psalm 73:25
“I stretch out my hands for You; my soul longs for You, as a parched land.” Psalm 143:6
“At night, my soul longs for You, indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently…” Isaiah 26:9
#4 Rest & Rejoice
David rested. Because he had confidence in God's character, and history, David fully expected that God would destroy or stop his enemies. (v.9-10) Clinging tightly to God, filled his heart with joy and praise. (v.11) "the king will rejoice in God"
Rest is not simply kicking back in a hammock. I’m sure there are plenty of people laying in hammocks in the Caribbean, who are not really “at rest.” The kind of rest I’m seeking and God is offering, is peace of soul.
TO MAKE THIS REALLY PRACTICAL, HERE'S HOW I'M CHOOSING TO REST AS I WAIT FOR MEDICAL ANSWERS IN "GOD'S WAITING ROOM."
- Ask: What is bringing "unrest" to my soul? Currently it is: "Medical testing that has a possibly unwanted outcome" (or fill in the blank) causes anxiety, or fear, or doubt, etc.
- I ask myself: "What is a promise of God that would answer those anxieties? I love this one..."You (God) will keep him (me) in perfect peace, whose mind is fixed on You. (God)" Isaiah 26:3
- What character qualities of God assure me that He will keep His promise? He is faithful. He is powerful.
- What has He done in the past that assure you He will do so again? In 2002 God comforted and strengthened me during cancer tests & treatment. I grew so much closer to Him during that year.
- How will I “cling to Him” more tightly when troubled in spirit about this? I'm asking God to help me, and thanking Him for saving me and loving me so much.
- What praises come to mind as you think about Resting in God’s Promise? I'm praising Him for his kindness, comfort, and glory He's displaying to me and through me.
It's not a once-and-done thing either. More times than not, I have to do battle with my thoughts, repeatedly corralling them to the glory of God. I'm sure we can all relate!
I sincerely hope these principles help you as much as they are helping me every day. Please comment and share some of your favorite promises from God that give you peace and rest.
By the way, I made these little scripture cards for the ladies at the study. If you would like to get a set of 6 different verse cards about Resting in God's Promises, Click HERE.