It feels good to claim God’s promises from Scripture, but no one wants to claim the promises of judgment. Many love to talk about the verse found in Jeremiah 29:11, which says, “‘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.’” If you’re going to claim that verse, you also have to realize that the people God was talking to were going into exile and suffering from diseases. There was a reason God was telling them these things — their situation was not good. We cannot, therefore, pull this one verse out of context and apply it to whatever situation we would like to. We have to take the whole story into account.
There’s profit found in making people feel good. That doesn’t mean God doesn’t have promises for us that are good, beneficial and meant for us to enjoy, but we have to be careful what we interpret to be His promises. God is preparing a place for us for eternity (John 14:3) — that’s a promise. God will be with us, never leaving or forsaking us (Deuteronomy 31:6) — that’s a promise. God will supply all of our needs according to His will (Philippians 4:19) — that’s a promise. These are all great promises for us to hold onto and enjoy.
As I’ve watched in recent news, thousands of Christ-followers in Nigeria are being persecuted, displaced, murdered, slaughtered, getting their limbs chopped off, and seeing their houses being burned to rubble. My prayer is that these atrocities end quickly, and we all should find ways to support and intervene for our brothers and sisters abroad. We might question, what kind of a promise and a hope is that? But God actually promises that His followers will be persecuted for their faith. In John 15:18-21, Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed My teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of My name, for they do not know the one who sent Me.”
This promise is not going to get a lot of “yeses” and “amens.” This is not a promise to fill a bank account, but it is a promise we need to remember. When I look around the world and see the suffering that people are enduring, this is a promise we need to hold onto. It’s a promise that says, “Through all the tragedies, God is still in control.” He also promises that in those times, “the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say” (Luke 12:12).
If we look over the expanse of time and see Christianity throughout the ages, our people have suffered so much physical and financial loss for the sake of the Kingdom. But there is more joy in God’s promises than any hardship we face here on earth. The list goes on and on as to what He does for us. If there isn’t a balance between our perspective for God’s justice, blessings and the reality of what life with Christ here on earth looks like, we will be fooled. It’s not as if the more we give the more we get on this side of Heaven. We are meant to be poured out as vessels for Christ.
Be wary of what you’re hearing — if it’s all positive and self-serving messages, a red flag should be raised. A lot of what false teachers say may be true, but it only takes one or two untruths to lead people astray.
— Benjamin Watson, former NFL tight end
Benjamin Watson is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing articles and opinions. Check out Benjamin’s Increase profile here: http://theincrease.com/author/benjaminwatson/
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