Trusting in the Promise

Broken promises cut deep. Healing is ultimately a soul issue. by Tammy Darling

I can’t think of a single person in my life that hasn’t broken a promise to me or to someone I love. For far too many people, the words “broken” and “promise” go hand in hand.

I know as a parent, it’s easy to promise this or that to a child and then not follow through. Life gets busy, plans change, we simply forget. But our children don’t forget. Broken promises cut deep to the very depths of our souls and proclaim, “You’re not important,” “They don’t care,” or “You can’t trust anyone.”

When promises are broken, I know far too well the lies that the enemy whispers into one’s soul. And he has a solitary purpose in mind: to cause us to see God as untrustworthy to keep His promises.

The issue of promises—broken or kept—is ultimately a God issue. It is first and foremost about our relationship with God, which is the determining factor in how much we will be able to trust that others will keep their promises—and how we’ll handle it when they don’t.

The fact is that because we are human, we’ll make and break promises. For some, it’s a lifestyle. But ideally, breaking a promise should be the exception, not the standard.

Like the overuse of the word “love,” the word “promise” isn’t given its full weight. A promise is akin to giving a pledge, a vow, a word of honor. These are weighty concepts and not to be taken lightly. Yet promises today are thrown around like confetti at a party.

God, however, takes promises very seriously. “When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee. But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee. That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the LORD thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth” (Deut. 23:21-23 KJV).

Once I understood how seriously God takes promises, I became very discerning in making them because I know how easy it is to break them. In fact, I rarely make promises anymore.

In today’s world, it’s difficult to trust that any relationship will last, that people will keep their promises. Consider for a moment marriages. No person goes into a covenant marriage believing that one day the covenant will be broken. Yet, even in the church, the divorce rate is far too high.

Trusting others to keep their promises begins with our relationship with God. We’ll never learn to trust others if we don’t first believe that Christ, who never broke any promises, is trustworthy. Therefore, because we’re surrounded by man, who breaks promises, how do we fully trust the only One who doesn’t? Here’s how:

Receive truth. While we are human, Jesus came to Earth as man but was still divine in nature. Perfect, though tempted as we are, He did not sin. This fact alone means that Jesus Christ never did and never will break a promise.

In Scripture, a promise of God is the declaration or assurance in which God has given His word of honor. This assurance rests on His perfection, and ultimately, on His character. Because of who He is, God cannot break or fail to keep a promise He has made. 

Change your perspective. When a promise is broken, trust is broken along with it. So typically, when trust is broken, a track record must be established for trust to be restored. Jesus’ track record is perfect. Because He has never broken any promises, there’s no broken trust—only because of our perceptions may we believe that He failed us. When our perspective lines up with truth, we’ll realize that Jesus’ track record is flawless.

Repent and forgive. Let’s be honest: we’ve all broken promises and we’ve all had promises made to us that were not kept. Now is the time to repent specifically for each incident that you recall not following through on and then for those you don’t remember. Do the same with forgiving others—deal with each offender individually before the Lord and then forgive any that you’re unable to remember. Now you are able to start fresh with a clean slate. Build a strong foundation when it comes to promises and you’ll be better able to believe in God’s promises.

Remember. Recall the faithfulness of God in your life, as well as in those who have gone before you. Many people do keep their promises, and it’s important that we remember this so we don’t lump everyone (including God) into the “promise breakers” category.

We also need to remember that God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours (see Isaiah 55:8-9). So just because a promise of God hasn’t been fulfilled in the way or timing that we think it should be, it doesn’t mean that He’s a promise breaker.

Tear down walls. Most of us have been hurt at an early age by broken promises. Brick by brick we put up walls around our hearts for protection. The more promises broken, the higher the wall. If we truly want to believe in God’s promises, we need to knock the walls down and let Him in. Being open and vulnerable before the Lord is essential for developing rock solid trust. That trust is crucial for believing the promises of God are “yes” and “amen” (see 2 Corinthians 1:20).

Make a choice. Making a choice intentionality leads us to where we want to go. Sometimes we have to be very deliberate about our desires. Make a declaration: “I choose to believe that God is trustworthy and will keep His promises.” Keep saying it; the feelings will follow. Believing that God is trustworthy will keep you believing in His promises, no matter what the circumstances look like.

Man may not always keep his promises, but God will—of that we can be sure.

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