“God’s promises never fail.” Ouch. Just saying stuff like that makes my teeth hurt. It’s so candy-coated. Believers say things like that just to placate people who ask legitimate questions.
The truth is that God’s promises almost never come true. Deal with it.
Let’s say you’re a believer and you find you have Stage 4 cancer.
Your well-meaning Christian friends gather around your hospital bed and tell you to be strong. “Remember,” they say, “God has promised us in His word, ‘Truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven’” (Matthew 18: 19, 20).
“So we’re just going to agree in prayer for you and watch God act,” they will say, laying hands on you in your hospital bed and praying.
But the healing doesn’t come.
Your Christian friends advise you to be patient. God’s timing isn’t our timing. They remind you, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3:8.).
To encourage you, they recite Matthew 7:9-11: “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him?”
But the healing doesn’t come—and you’re in pain. “Why would God allow this in my life?” you ask.
“Hmm,” they say. They don’t know, “but remember, ‘His ways aren’t our ways.’” Proverbs 3:5, 6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
But the healing doesn’t come. You tell your friends you’re really anxious about your illness. They tell you that you can have peace in the midst of this trial. James 4:8: “Draw near to God and He draw near to you.”
So you try, but you’re still a wreck. You don’t feel God’s presence.
“Hmm,” your friends say. “Sounds like you’re not trusting.” They remind you, “We walk by faith not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). They tell you to “not pay attention to appearances.” Trust that God has already begun your healing!
But the healing doesn’t come.
Now your Christian friends look at you askance. “Do you have an unconfessed sin in your life?” they ask. “You know that can block God’s healing.” They point to Psalm 66:18: “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”
“I’ve confessed everything I can think of!” you say. “Everything!”
“Hmm,” they say. “Are you sure? After all, Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, ‘The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?’”
“Yes, I think I’m sure,” you say.
“Well, let’s just wait on God’s timing,” they say. After all, Jeremiah 29:11, 12 tells us, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.’”
But then you die—and not prettily.
Then news of your passing gets to your friends and they discuss it at coffee hour after service the next Sunday.
“Well,” they say, “scripture tells us God always works in our best interests, so this must have been in his best interests for some reason we can’t understand.”
“Well, I really think there was some unconfessed sin here,” one of your friends whispers.
“Well, the important thing,” they agree, “is that he’s in a better place now. And that’s what really matters, isn’t it? After all, the Lord himself told us, ‘In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’”
“Yes,” someone says, “and don’t forget nothing can separate us from the love of God—not even death!”
So . . . they move on. Life calls. God ends up smelling like a rose without lifting a finger.
It’s all platitudes and excuses.
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