Promise: When God Fulfills His Promise

barren hill

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

There’s something about Abraham’s and Sarah’s story that stirs my heart every time I read it. Especially the part of their lives as they walked through the disappointment of childlessness. As I read Genesis 17-18 recently, I was struck by a couple thoughts.

I wonder if Abraham had grown tired of hoping—of believing—that God would actually give him a child with his wife, Sarai. Waiting decades for a promise to be fulfilled is wearying on the soul and the hope.

white tulips

And Sarai. A beautiful, powerhouse of a woman in her own right. But even beautiful, powerful women can’t make their bodies produce babies. No, that only comes via God’s opening (or not opening) the womb.

She must have seen when Abraham embraced the name change God gave him . . . going from Abram, meaning, “exalted father,” to Abraham, meaning “Father of Nations.”

What did she think when, year after year, her belly remained flat, her hair turned more gray, her body grew more frail? Did she hold to God’s promise the way Abraham did?

In Genesis 18:12, I hear the edge of bitterness in her voice. Perhaps the bitterness came from not reconciling that unfulfilled heart desire she’d clung to for years. Twenty-four, to be exact.

Sunrise 1

Was it hard for her to embrace God’s new name for her? From Sarai-“My princess” to Sarah-“Princess” with the implication that she would be a mother of nations.

Had the shiny promise of a child lost some of its sparkle after twenty-four long years?

I remember our walk through infertility. The heartache of each month proving I was still childless.  Then, God spoke to my heart—not once, but twice—during a time when I was helping a friend come into motherhood again.

God said to my heart, “I will give you a child.” And then, to make sure I knew it was my  Abba who’d said it, He repeated it a couple days later, “I will give you a child.”

Flower amid rock

Yet, it was another two to three years before He brought that promise into a wee-crying reality.

When God gives us a promise, we have a choice: hold onto the promise or hold onto the Giver of the promise. When we hold onto the promise, we can clutch it so hard that we base our identities on the thought of it coming true.

Then, when it remains elusive, our hearts begin to shrivel. Our identities suffer.

For me, being part of the mommy club became something I yearned for, clung to. When the promise continued to be withheld, my ticket into that club seemed to dangle just out of my reach.

The Identity God gives us copy

Sometimes, God gives us a new identity, because of a coming promise, or because He’s made us new through Jesus Christ. Always, the identity God gives us is based on who we are in Him, rather than on the promise He’s extended.

Did Sarah have trouble embracing her new name, her new identity (mother of nations) when it didn’t come true in her timeframe?

Hawaiian rainbow

There are times God gives us a promise and we want to believe, but we are afraid to. Our pasts tell us His promise is impossible.

When we look at God’s promises through the filter of our experiences, they always look impossible.

With Sarah, God fulfilled the promise of a son, because He is a promise-keeper. Even when she didn’t believe, He blessed her with the desire of her heart. That desire she’d probably tucked away into the closet marked Disappointment.

Photo provided by Karla Dome

Photo provided by Karla Dome

There are times when God fulfills His promises because He said He would, even when we struggle to believe. Sometimes God waits for us to fully believe in Him before He brings those promises to fruition in our lives.

Other times, He fulfills them simply because He is God, and He’s faithful, even when we’re not.

What about you? When have you seen God fulfill a promise in your life? What helps you hold onto the Giver of promises when the promises seem impossible?

Today, I’m linking up with Holly Barrett and #RaRaLinkup.

Advertisements

27 thoughts on “Promise: When God Fulfills His Promise

  1. Oh Jeanne, this is so powerful. I love how God took hold of your grievong heart and spoke Life into it. Holding onto God, rather than the promise(s) alone. Yes!

    Just last night I felt myself becoming overwhelmed again by the task of self-publishing the book He has gifted me and then I heard Him ask me: “Anna, don’t you believe in My power? Don’t you believe I can move mountains? Look at how far I’ve taken you already.” And, so I took those distrustful and unbelieving thoughts captive and bent them to His will: oh the peace that came and the joy and the determination and will to move forward. God is SO good.

    Like

    • I love the question God asked you, Anna. Sometimes it’s a matter of choosing to believe His word, His power, when He gives us something to do that’s WAY bigger than us. When we choose to leave the results in His hands, there’s freedom and peace. I truly hope your book does well, my friend! I am certain it will minister to many!

      Like

  2. This is beautiful. So many diverse promises for people, but the one same God! Beautiful and encouraging words!

    Like

    • Isn’t God amazing that way?! He gives Biblical promises, but He also gives unique, God-crafted promises to individuals . . . and He fulfills them in His perfect timing. Thank you so much for stopping by today!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Such encouragement today, Jeanne. He can do anything, and we so lose sight of that in our deadline-making and yearning at times. Praise the Lord for promises- and that He fulfills them!!

    Like

    • I’m glad I’m not the only deadline-maker here, Bethany. 😉 God’s timing is almost always different from mine. I’m learning to accept that. I know His plans and timing are always perfect; I just need to remember to trust Him when things don’t work out on my timeframe. 🙂

      Like

  4. Encouraging post Jeanne. God’s timing can be exasperating for mere mortals like us.
    We each struggle differently in regard to waiting on the Lord. God seems to have changed my state of mind over the years from “I can’t” to “what if?” There’s always been something inside me that knew I was supposed to be serving out beyond the walls of a church building. I asked myself, what if I’d been waiting for God on the wrong street corner? What if I stepped away from my want and found my way back to where God wanted me? In doing that, God has invited me into something new…and quite possibly the thing I’ve really always needed…and most likely the thing I’ve always wanted.

    Like

    • I Loved this, Gene: “What if I stepped away from my want and found my way back to where God wanted me?” Wow. When we step away from our agendas, from what WE want, and ask God to show us where He wants us? Imagine what He will do in and through us. I’m so excited for you as you discover the new thing God has invited you into. I hope to hear more about this!

      Like

  5. I also love the story of Abraham and Sarah and the beautiful ending that they were given. Your words that share the choice of holding onto the promise or the Giver of the promise hit home today. I find it so much easier to hold onto the Giver of a promise for someone else in my life than for myself. I prayed for my sons to find women that were chosen by Him and for years I would hear his voice saying they would find a wife. I would even share this with my sons because I knew without a doubt that God would be faithful in this situation. But when it comes to myself, I have a hard time believing that God has promises for me. There is a sense of not deserving it in my own life. It is something I am slowly learning to embrace and realize for myself.

    Thank you for these words today. I needed them. Praying your recovery is going well. Since I miss all the FMF twitter parties I haven’t heard any updates. Blessings!

    Like

    • Hmmm, interesting, Mary. It is easier to hold onto the GIVER of the promise for others. We know God is beyond able to do anything He says He will. It’s so easy to believe for others. . . and so difficult to believe when we’re the ones in the place of a yet-to-be-fulfilled promise. The waiting is HARD. Like you, I’ve played those mind games of thinking I don’t deserve something God’s promises. The truth is, He gives out of His love for us. We don’t often deserve that. But He still loves us. And He lavishes us with it in the ways He knows are best. I’m so glad you’re beginning to embrace this. 🙂 I still struggle with this sometimes, too.

      Recovery is progressing. I’ve had a couple of hiccups, but nothing major, thankfully. I’m getting up and around a bit more, and I can drive. Which is always good when a mom has kids that need to be places. Not surprisingly, God’s speaking to me in this season. I may blog about some of it. 😉

      Like

  6. Yes, I too like ‘counting on God, the Giver of the Promise rather than the promise’ For our God is always faithful; we just need to trust Him AND His timing. :))

    Like

  7. Jeanne, for me it was trusting in God’s sovereignty and believing that my heavenly Father knows me and will provide what I need (even if it might not be what I desire) that provided the most comfort when I was dealing with infertility. His ultimate answer to our prayers for a family was not what we originally expected, but I’m so glad for it now. I love the picture of holding on to the Giver of Promises rather than to the promise itself. 🙂

    Like

    • Yes, Lois. I discovered so much about God and His sovereignty during that season of life, as well. I had to come to peace with the thought that perhaps, God didn’t have motherhood in His plans for me. When I could accept whatever His plan was for me, then He had the freedom to create our family in His perfect way. And I wouldn’t change a thing about how He did this.

      Thanks for sharing a piece of your story here. 🙂

      Like

  8. Jeanne, I can relate to a long wait for a word from the Lord to come to pass, and also hanging on more closely to the promise itself rather than the Giver of all promises. As a result I became discouraged and disillusioned. Not a good way for a woman of faith to live. Now I hold the (still unfulfilled) promise lightly and cling more closely to the gracious God who offered it to me. And although things may have actually worsened rather than improved over time, I can rest in its fulfilment being the other side of this life rather than necessarily in the here and now. Because each day is a gift and each moment is grace-given. We can hope for external changes to happen but I firmly believe God’s often more interested in changing His child’s heart (and desires) rather than meeting all her hopes and dreams in the way she imagines.

    Like

  9. This has been very eye opening for me. By asking myself am I holding onto the promise or the Giver of the promise, I realize I get far more caught up in the promise. Thank you for that important change of perspective, Jeanne. I love the story of Abraham and Sarah as well. It always helps me cling to hope, that all important element of life.

    Like

    • Candace, I’ve gotten caught up in the promise too. God has to nudge me to re-orient my perspective from time to time too. 🙂 And I agree, Abraham’s and Sarah’s story holds MUCH hope for us as well. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Like

  10. Jeanne, thank you, thank you, thank you! I could have totally written this blog post myself. This is so my heart. THIS: “Waiting decades for a promise to be fulfilled is wearying on the soul and the hope.” Um yes! Thank you for the reminder that God does hear my prayers and every desire of my heart.

    Like

    • Tara, I hear the various emotions in your words. I’m praying for you today my friend. It is so hard to wait for God to fulfill promises and heart desires. He ALWAYS hears our prayers, isn’t that amazing? And, HE always answers them. I find great comfort in that. Praying now for you. 🙂

      Like

  11. I stumbled upon your blog from the B&S post today, and I’m thankful I did. I’m holding on to the same promise you once did. I certainly know what it means to hold tight to the promise, and more recently, I’m learning to hold tightly to the Giver. Five years of infertility don’t define me. His word does! 🙂 I love Sarah’s story. I have written on my desk for me to see every day, “Then the Lord visited [Laura] as He said and the Lord did to [Laura] as he had promised.” Gen 21:1. Thanks for sharing this encouraging word! 🙂

    Like

    • Laura, I’m so glad you stopped by. And cling tightly to Jesus during this time. I know you know that, but sometimes we need to be reminded. Infertility was one of the most difficult roads I traveled, but there were treasures, once I began to look for them. And you’re so right! Infertility does NOT define you. God does. I love that you wrote that verse and put your name in there. I’m praying for you today.

      Like

  12. This encourages me so much for a close friend in her mid-30’s who has been trying for several years to get pregnant. Thank you.

    You point about holding on to the Promise Keeper and not to the promise is so important.

    Like

Comments are closed.