If anyone makes a promise to us, we like to make sure we understand exactly what they meant, how did they say it, what was their tone, did they mean us in particular or someone else too, when will they do what they have promised, is there a deadline, if we mess up will they keep their promise?
So much we want to know for sure, though we might not be so bold as to ask such questions out loud.
With our God we can afford to ask, he won’t be put off by our wanting to know what he means. He delights in the relationship we have with him (if you find this hard to believe look at the price he paid for it), he loves communicating with us, especially his own promises; and seeing those promises become part of the way we think, enabling us to trust he will do what he says, gives him great pleasure.
Even, maybe especially, when we don’t understand exactly what he will do in answer to our prayers, but we trust him anyway.
Many years ago we were expecting a baby, excited as you can imagine, thinking of dozens of names, how this new little person would impact our world, which he or she would most assuredly do. How would Martin like a new addition to our family, he wouldn’t be the only one anymore, would that upset him? What would it be like to have two instead of just the one?
So many things to happily wonder about.
Then one day there’s an odd ache. The day goes on as planned, we go to the meeting which was on that evening, later, as it draws to a close, our friend prays verses from Psalm 91 over me as we sit numbed realising what is happening.
He says he doesn’t know what is going to happen, but he knows these particular verses are what God wants me to hear deep within my soul.
‘Because she loves me, says the Lord, I will rescue her; I will protect her, for she acknowledges my name. She will call upon me, and I will answer her; I will be with her in trouble, I will deliver her and honour her. With long life I will satisfy her and show her my salvation.’ Psalm 91:14-16
Later in the evening there’s no more baby on the way. We hold each other in the quiet, and wonder.
All through the sadness of lost hopes and dreams Jesus was close, it didn’t mean we were free from wondering why we’d lost our baby, or whether we could ever have another, but it did mean we knew the future was in his hands, whatever that meant for our family.
I didn’t sail serenely through that time, I was deeply sad, but the thought of going through it without Jesus would have been unbearable.
The promises God gave to me that evening meant the world to me, no it didn’t mean he made everything alright, and yes, the sadness went on for a long, long, time, and questions whirling round my mind didn’t automatically go away, but I knew the truth, he was with me and loved me, and would be with me through it all.
He’d made me a promise.