After many years of diverse career experience, I was excitedly counting down the days until my retirement. I eagerly anticipated being in control of my schedule and time while enjoying a slower pace of life. I envisioned more days devoted to serving in ministry at my church and deepening relationships...
We sat in amazement, shocked by the unexpected blessing the Lord provided for our family right before Christmas. After going into this season with the hard reality of no income and the heavy weight of trials, we had accepted the fact that this Christmas would contain few gifts and activities, and greater simplicity.
In the Lord’s undeserved goodness, however, he chose to take our empty hands and fill them with unexpected gifts. One of those gifts was a last-minute, free trip to Florida. After a chaotic few days of planning, we surprised the kids and were on our way. We were filled with thankfulness and amazement – until problem after problem arose.
Snow storm. Flight delay. Airplane entrapment. Sick child. Screaming children. And finally, a mix-up that kept us from entering our vacation home until 2:30am. I thought, Okay, this wasn’t what I expected, but we can make the best of this. That thought was short-lived, however, as the next several days brought feverish and vomiting children, sleepless nights, tantrums, and an urgent care visit, while we stared longingly at the beautiful weather from inside our vacation home.
When Expectations Are Dashed
This wasn’t what I had expected. Why had God given us this gift only to tear it to pieces? In between helping sick children and falling asleep standing up, I began to wrestle with what I had expected and what God had allowed. Was God being unkind, or was I having wrongful expectations of something that I didn’t deserve in the first place?
That week was hard, but it challenged me to look at how I expect the Lord to act in certain ways – ways in which he never promised to act.
Do you find yourself disappointed or devastated at times, struggling to understand how God’s goodness, faithfulness, and provision align with your circumstances?
- Have you prayed desperately for a job promotion, but time after time you get passed up by a less experienced employee?
- Have you begged the Lord to heal your loved one (or yourself), but each doctor’s report is more disheartening?
- Have you prayed for wisdom in making a life-changing decision, but now it seems the Lord has led you down a path full of unexpected challenges?
If God is good, faithful, just, loving, kind, merciful, gracious, compassionate, and sovereign, why does he allow these confusing circumstances that rattle us?
I certainly don’t know all of God’s purposes and am still baffled by circumstances he has allowed, but I’ve seen how I have created distorted expectations of his promises, which complicate these unexpected twists and turns. One of the main ways we’ve distorted God’s promises is in regards to his faithfulness (and goodness).
God is faithful. That is a promise (1 Corinthians 1:9). But we need to know what he does and doesn’t promise he will be faithful to do.
14 Ways God Promises to Be Faithful to You
Here are several promises the Bible gives us about how God will be faithful:
1. He promises to be faithful to save you.
He doesn’t promise to save us if we are holy enough, strong enough, or involved enough in ministry, but he does promise to be faithful to save us if we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9-10).
2. He promises to be faithful to sanctify you.
He doesn’t promise that he will always act according to what seems good and faithful in our eyes, but he does promise to be faithful by sanctifying us completely and preparing us for our eternal home (1 Thessalonians 5:23–24).
3. He promises to be faithful to teach you.
He doesn’t promise to save us from all trials, but he does promise to be faithful by teaching us in affliction to love and obey him (Psalm 119:75).
4. He promises to be faithful to guard you.
He doesn’t promise us protection from all of Satan’s attacks, but he does promise to be faithful by strengthening and guarding us against the enemy (2 Thessalonians 3:3).
5. He promises to be faithful to hear you.
He doesn’t promise to answer all our prayers in the way we desire, but he does promise to hear and answer all that’s in accordance with his will (1 John 5:14-15).
6. He promises to be faithful to strengthen you.
He doesn’t promise that we will be confident and capable in everything we do, but he does promise to be faithful to give us his strength, wisdom, and power to accomplish all that he calls us to do (Philippians 4:13).
7. He promises to be faithful to you when you aren’t faithful to him.
He doesn’t promise that we will never fail to trust him, but he does promise to be faithful, even when we are faithless (2 Timothy 2:13).
8. He promises to be faithful to walk with you.
He doesn’t promise that he will protect us from scary circumstances, disorienting paths, dark seasons, or times of loss, but he does promise to lead us in paths of righteousness, restore us, be near us, comfort us, and fill us with himself (Psalm 23:1-6).
9. He promises to be faithful to help you withstand temptation.
He doesn’t promise that we won’t be tempted, but he does promise to be faithful by not letting us be tempted beyond our ability (1 Corinthians 10:13).
10. He promises to be faithful to forgive and cleanse you.
He doesn’t promise that we won’t struggle with sin, but he does promise to be faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from unrighteousness if we confess our sins (1 John 1:9).
11. He promises to be faithful to transform you through suffering.
He doesn’t promise to save us from suffering at the hands of evil or painful circumstances, but he does promise to be faithful to use our suffering as we trust in him to produce endurance, character, and hope through the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:1-5).
12. He promises to be faithful to your ultimate good.
He doesn’t promise to protect us from all harm and disappointment, but he does promise to be faithful to work all things together for our eternal good – even when we can’t see or understand it (Romans 8:28).
13. He promises to be faithful to renew your soul.
He doesn’t promise to keep our bodies, minds, or earthly hopes from wasting away, but he does promise to be faithful to renew our inner selves day by day, even as our outer selves waste away (2 Corinthians 4:16).
14. He promises to be faithful to prepare you for glory.
He doesn’t promise to end our suffering on this earth, but he does promise to be faithful to use this momentary affliction to prepare for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but the things that are unseen (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
How God Is Faithful
As I reflect on these incredible promises of God’s faithfulness, I am freshly aware of how often I expect him to act in ways he never promised to act.
- He desires us to let go of this world and grow in our love for him. However, he often does that by removing from us and denying us the very things we desire on this earth, revealing that he is truly all we need. That is his faithfulness.
- He desires us to rely on him, and not our own strength and wisdom. However, he often does that by allowing weakness into our lives or by placing us in situations that push us beyond abilities and comfort. That is his faithfulness.
- He desires us to trust him completely and be anchored in the hope of salvation. However, he often does that by allowing circumstances we can’t make sense of, stripping away earthly hopes that distract us from the secure and eternal hope that he desires us to know. That is his faithfulness.
Friends, if you experiencing circumstances that seem to contradict the goodness and faithfulness of God, would you join me in examining your heart to see how we may be expecting God to act in ways he has never promised? As we do that, may we confess our expectations to him and be comforted by all the ways he has promised to be faithful to us as his children. Thankfully, he is patient and gracious toward us as we grow to trust him for who he truly is, rather than who we expect him to be.
Praise the Lord that even when we are faithless, he will remain faithful.