The Bedrock of Theology Driven Living
by Sharon Betters
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not fear, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”
The covenantal promises of God formed a grid through which I learned to live life in the crucible of suffering. When I struggled to understand my purpose as an empty nester far sooner than I expected, God gave me comfort, hope and “marching orders” through the conversations He had with Abraham. Jesus is on every page of the Bible and we see Him clearly in the relationship God had with Abraham. Abraham’s spiritual journey is a model of our own spiritual journeys. Get to know Abraham and experience hope and encouragement for your own struggles.
God chose Abraham, a man who worshipped other gods. In Genesis 12 and 15, God outlines His Covenant with Abraham, and with all His children. In essence God says:
I choose you, Abraham. You belong to me.
I will never leave you.
I will make you into a great nation.
I will make your name great
You will be a blessing to others
All people on earth will be blessed through you
Can you see how these promises create a roadmap for the child of God, the one who loves Jesus and is loved by Him? No matter our circumstances or our sin, God will not, He cannot break these promises.
Remember that Paul tells us in Galatians 3:29 that if we belong to Jesus, these promises are our inheritance. This is how these covenantal promises became my roadmap through the Land of Grief:
God adopted me as His daughter. Jesus, His son, is my Savior. I am the daughter of a King.
His son Jesus is my brother
He has given me the same privileges and responsibilities as His son, Jesus
He promises to bless me and the greatest blessing of all is His presence through His Son, Jesus
He promises that He is building a great covenant family
He promises that this covenant family and I, as one of those family members, will be a blessing to others
He promises to never leave me, that He is my shield and very great reward
How does this work out in daily life? God’s promises nourished my soul and strengthened me for the next step in the pathway He had marked out for me.
When I’m having a rough day and feeling unloved, I remember that God’s perfect love sent His perfect Son, Jesus, for me. What greater love is there than to give up your life for another? Such thoughts challenge any doubts about God’s perfect purpose for me. He created me for His glory. How can I glorify Him with confidence in His love?
When I feel restless and at loose ends, not knowing how to fill my day because grief or disappointment reigns, I remember God’s promise to make me a blessing to others. I pray and ask Him to give me one way to encourage or comfort another person, for His glory.
When I am lonely and isolated, I remember God’s promise of a covenant family and I know His desire is that I find comfort, wisdom, and strength in that covenant family. He reminds me to intentionally reach out to connect and cultivate community in a way that not only meets my needs but helps encourage others.
When such attempts at community fall short, God reminds me of the words He spoke to Abraham and tells me His presence is enough:
“Do not fear, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”
When I wish for a more concrete response from the Lord about the circumstances in my own life, answers to my whys or what now, He reminds me of the promise of His presence, promised to one person after another in Scripture. Think of it, each of these people experienced tremendous fear, mostly in response to God’s call on their lives. This gives me comfort!
Don’t be afraid, I will be with you.
God to Abram: Genesis 15:1
God to Isaac – Genesis 26:14
God to Jacob: Genesis 28:15
God to Moses – Exodus 3:12
Moses to Joshua – Deuteronomy 30:8
Angel to Gideon – Judges 6:12
God to Gideon –Judges 6:16
God to Jeremiah – Jeremiah 1:8
An Angel to Paul – Acts 27:23-24
Jesus to Us: Matthew 28:20
And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Paul and Silas sang at midnight because they believed the promises of God. In them, we see a tangible example of how God’s promises nourish our souls and energize us to live a life that is a broken hallelujah. Thomas Watson a 17th century minister was one of 2,000 ministers who were ejected from the Church of England and experienced hardship and suffering. Watson saw one of his responsibilities as a pastor was to lead Christians to live joyful lives in response to God’s grace. His book, All Things for Good was written in 1663, the year after the expulsion of these ministers. He unpacked the promise of Romans 8:28, God works all things together for good for his people and explained why only faith in God’s Word could lead him to confidence in the promises of God. One of the questions he answered was: How do the promises work for good? I love how he says that when Jacob feared exceedingly, “God’s promise was his food.” God’s promises strengthened him. Let this patriarch of our faith encourage you with the good news of how God’s promises nourish us and strengthen us to live a life that is a broken hallelujah.
From All Things for Good, Thomas Watson, 1663:
“They are good for faith, and that which strengthens faith works for good. The promises are the milk of faith; faith sucks nourishment from them, as the child from the breast. ‘Jacob feared exceedingly’ (Genesis 32:7). His spirits were ready to faint; now he goes to the promise, ‘Lord, thou hast said that thou wilt do me good’ (Genesis 32:12). This promise was his food. He got so much strength from this promise that he was able to wrestle with the Lord all night in prayer, and would not let Him go till He had blessed him.
“The promises also are springs of joy. There is more in the promises to comfort than in the world to perplex. Ursin (a German Reformer in the 16th Century) was comforted by that promise: ‘No man shall pluck them out of my Father’s hand’ (John 10:29). The promises are cordials in a fainting-fit. ‘Unless thy word had been my delights, I had perished in my affliction’ (Psalm119:92). The promises are as a cork to the net, to bear up the heart from sinking in the deep waters of distress.”
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go the MARKINC website and listen to the interview “The Thin Blue Line and Marriage" so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
When they leave for work they pray they will return home, safe and sound. Their spouses have to learn how to live with the constant possibility that a gunshot will destroy their family. Police officers are a special breed of men and women who go toward danger in order to protect their community. How do a husband and wife build a marriage when there is a constant tension of uncertainty and low grade fear? Joe and Candice Racite speak frankly about their own struggles as a law enforcement family, acknowledging the work of law enforcement affects almost every area of life, as well as relationships to family and friends.