Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

July 24, 2016


Broken promises can have a silver lining


Trust is a precious gift. Believe I mean what I say and you bless me. But if I break my promises to you, I will lose your trust. Trust, once violated, is difficult to restore. And genuine relationships are impossible without trust.

Christian marriages are usually solemnized at a church altar. The bride and groom stand before a minister who invites them to vow to be faithful to each other. The wording of the ritual leaves no room for flippancy: “forsaking all other keep thee only unto her (or him) so long as you both shall live.”

Broken marriage vows usually lead to divorce and broken hearts. “Broken” signifies pain and misery. In marriage the goal is for the “two to become one.” Divorce “breaks” this oneness, leaving both husband and wife wounded.

The highway of life is littered with broken promises. Business partnerships are shattered when promises are violated. Churches are sometimes destroyed or weakened when sacred vows are not kept.

Most of us take the promises of politicians with a grain of salt. We have heard too many whose campaign promises were ignored after the election.

The pain of broken promises can prove valuable, however, if the unfaithfulness of others prompts us to seek out the unbreakable promises of God. You might call this the “silver lining” of broken promises.

Christian worship is a celebration of God’s faithfulness. God is faithful. This is one of the bedrock truths of Christian faith: God keeps his promises. You can count on it.

A trusted friend may betray you. Your landlord may go back on his word. Your employer may close down his business, leaving you without a job. The stock market may fail, depriving you of investments you had planned to live on in retirement.  Perhaps that is why the Psalmist says, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7).  Ultimately we learn that we cannot trust in horses, or in men, but in God alone.

The stories of Jesus’ birth remind us that God keeps his word. He kept his word to Joseph and to Mary, to Zechariah and Elizabeth and to the lowly shepherds. God surprises everyone by sending angels to announce the birth of his Son to the shepherds, common laborers with no influence and no credentials. Startled and afraid, the shepherds hurried into Bethlehem to see if they could find the infant Messiah lying in a cow’s stall. There they found everything just as the angels had said. Returning home, they told others that God had done just what he said he would do.

Mary and Joseph could testify to God’s faithfulness. The shepherds could testify to God’s faithfulness. Through the centuries the saints of God have testified to God’s faithfulness.

But enough of angels, shepherds and saints. The pertinent question is this: can you testify that God keeps his promises? I can. Let me explain. 

As a young man I felt burdened by my sins. I thirsted for God’s forgiveness. So I decided to believe his promise to save me if I trusted him. That promise is found in Romans 10:9 - “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” I did that and found peace with God.

Over the years I have often grown weary of trying hard to “be a Christian” in my own strength. But I learned to trust the promises of Jesus. I found rest by believing this promise to be true: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

When I have struggled with defeat and disappointment I found hope by turning my problems over to the Lord. I believed his promise: “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water” (Jeremiah 17:7-8).

When my heart has been broken by tragedy, I have believed that God never forsakes me and is always working for my good. I believed his promise: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28).

In recent years as my physical strength has sometimes failed, I have believed his promise: “He will keep you strong right up to the end, and he will keep you free from all blame on the great day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will surely do this for you, for he always does just what he says, and he is the one who invited you into this wonderful friendship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:6-9).

There it is: all the assurance I need to believe in the faithfulness of God – “he always does just what he says”! Paul saw it and the Lord let me see it!

 The world needs to hear the testimonies of believers that in a world of broken promises, God is faithful. We can trust him. He keeps his promises! + + +