Digging Through the Promise Box: The Third Grace

It was just a cheap little plastic box, maybe you’ve seen one like it or have one, filled with business-card-sized Scripture cards. Each card held a “promise” from Scripture. I vividly remember, as a young girl, climbing up on my mom’s bed and taking the box from her bedside table into my lap so that I could pull out one card at a time and read those promises.

The difference between Scripture’s promises and any other “promise” is the source of the promise. The unfailing God delivers what He promises.

Way back in July (I can’t believe it’s been that long and that I’ve written so few posts since then!) I shared with you that this year especially, there are “Four Graces That Have Carried Me” and told you that I’d send you a post, as I could, on those four.

Would you like to know what those four graces are? Perhaps they are also carrying you right now—or will be graces that you can rely on in the future. (If you missed those posts and want to read about the first two graces, you can find them by clicking on the words below: Purpose and Providence.)

  • Promise 
  • Presence

The “third grace” is: Promise. And the promises we find in Scripture, are more solid than any other promise or commitment that you will ever receive.

  • Promise: Guarantee. Oath. Covenant. Pledge. The word you can depend on—no matter what.

The difficult thing about Scriptural “promises” is that we often misunderstand what is being promised. We take God’s pledge of commitment completely out of context and if we’re not careful, when the “promise” doesn’t arrive, we’ll blame God as though He’s not kept His Word.

I’m not recommending that you throw away those little plastic Scripture-Promise boxes, but be careful to pull out your Bible as you cling to those promises and see the promise in its context. Read the promise through the grid of the entire redemptive story—not just as something you can “claim” for yourself like those who believe in a silly fortune cookie “prophecy.” God’s promises are to be taken seriously, but so often we twist His Word in a way that devalues and distorts His truth.

One thing I’ve learned in discerning the meaning behind a majority of the promises of God, is that most of them have more to do with understanding God’s character than with getting a specific guarantee for the future.

There are several promises that have held my heart as we’ve walked through the longest and most difficult season we’ve ever faced. God’s promises graciously fuel our hope and establish our perspective.

The weekend when LeRoy’s illness manifested itself most dramatically, when he lost his ability to walk and realized that paralysis was setting in, we were over two thousand miles from home and fear hit me like a cement truck. We were in a remote location that had a small hospital, but no doctors on staff, and LeRoy insisted that he wasn’t going to an ER until we got back to the states. But he was so terribly ill, and his bodily functions were significantly impaired, and I lay awake that first night wondering how we could possibly get back home and make it to a hospital before he was in a serious or critical condition.

And in that dark night, the Lord graciously and clearly brought His reassuring promise that He would not abandon us:

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

God’s faithful, steadfast character stands out as one of His primary characteristics throughout Scripture. He does not abandon His own. At times, we may feel abandoned. I wonder how the generations of His people felt in the four hundred “silent” years before He sent His Son to redeem us? They surely felt forgotten, but they weren’t. Or what about when His people stood at the Red Sea’s edge? Surely, they felt God brought them there to be slaughtered, but He hadn’t.

One thing we can be assured of, God never abandons His own.  

Another promise that I’ve clung to, parallels the truth of that verse from Hebrews:

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’” (Isaiah 41:10)

This passage speaks to the reality of God’s people being “held” in His hand. What safer place can there be? This is abiding peace, when I focus on the fact that my Creator, Savior, and Redeemer holds me secure.

These are promises that I can stand on today. Knowing that my help comes from the steadfast and faithful God of Scripture. These are truths I can cling to when I’m growing weak (which is a daily occurrence). But there is more than the promise for today that secures my heart, there is the future promise that provides solid confidence and hope for what is coming:

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1–3)

I love Jesus’ command that precedes this promise: “Do not let your heart be troubled . . .” It fills me with peace just to hear Him saying: Don’t worry about now, don’t be troubled or overwhelmed with the hard stuff that seems will never end. It will end—Jesus is assuring us of that. The affliction, the loss, the painful journey you’re on—it will end.

And when you close your eyes in death, it is so you can open them in the place He has prepared for you.

Whenever I read this passage, my mind returns to the peaceful warmth of the bedroom scene in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, when Frodo Baggins opens his eyes in a room bathed in a golden glow. He was close to death after battle, and wasn’t even aware when he was placed in the bed, where the mighty Legolas and the elf community could care for him.

Before Frodo opens his eyes, he hears the sounds of birds singing and the occasional splash of running water from a fountain. The first person he sees when he wakes from his long sleep is his good friend, Gandalf, watching over him as he recovers from what could’ve been a mortal wound. Soon, all his friends gather around his bed, they laugh and rejoice, for the moment forgetting all of the battles and dangers they face. Light, laughter, sweet peace, and joy flood the room.

Heaven will be much better than that, but for me, it seems like a small taste of what it will be like to wake up in the perfect place that our loving Savior has prepared for us. It’s good to think on our future home, to look ahead to the joy that awaits us. To lift our eyes above the darkness and trouble and fix them on the perfection and beauty that is coming.

It’s good to remind ourselves that Jesus has not abandoned us, He has not forgotten how hard our days are here, He knows there will be pain, sorrow, and trouble—but He provides the way to not “be troubled” while in the midst of trouble: Remember that He is preparing the place for us, where we will be at peace and rest, enjoying Him forever!

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.

Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever. And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true”; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place.

“And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.” (Revelation 21:3–6, 22:1–7)

Do you long for that day?

What promises are you clinging to today?

Photo by Nong Vang on Unsplash

Dear Friends, your prayers are a tangible means of God’s grace in our lives. If you are new to the blog, and unaware of what we’re walking through and how we need your prayers, I hope you’ll read this post from the archives. Even though I’m unable to respond to your comments, I do read every one. For those who share prayer needs, I lift those to the Father and am so grateful to be entrusted with your prayer request. I love to hear from you, so please continue to leave your comments knowing that they matter!

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