On this Thursday of the Second Week of Lent, I continue my journey through Scott Hahn’s book, Lenten Reflections from A Father Who Keeps His Promises.
“But you promised!”
How often have I heard this protest—usually in the form of a whine. It usually occurs when a child twists an off-the-cuff response to their request. Something like:
Child: Can I go to the movies with my friends this weekend?
Dad: We’ll see.
Child promptly interprets “we’ll see” as something like:
“most definitely. I promise. I do hereby swear or affirm that you will be allowed to go do whatever you want with your friends this weekend and I will do all in my power to make sure you do.“
And then Friday finds the Child in flight grabbing his coat and the car keys in a mad dash out the door. Dad is the sole obstacle to his progress.
Dad: Where are you off to?
Child: The mall with my friends.
Dad: You can’t go until you (pick one):
(a) Finish the dishes
(b) Clean your bedroom
(c) Do your homework
(d) Complete some other mundane, unnecessary yet arduous task.
Child: But you promised!
Frankly I can’t always remember what I said five minute previously, let alone what I told the kids days before, so I am very cautious about using any words that can be construed as a promise by an objective observer. Maybe that’s the lawyer in me.
Today’s reading discusses three promises God made to Abraham:
I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you;
I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
All the families of the earth will find blessing in you. Gen. 12:2-3.
God promised, and God delivered. Praise be to the name of God! He never forgets His promises.
In my life I find that I can be very childish when it comes to what God has promised. Whenever I respond to a situation with “why me?!” or “why not me?“, it’s an implicit demand that God fulfill a promise He didn’t really make.
When I lose a job, “why me?!” loosely translates to “God, you promised to keep me in this job!” Conversely, when I am jealous of others’ blessings, “why not me?” can be loosely translated to “God, you promised me many blessings and successes!”
And again, the antidote to these false expectations is an attitude of gratitude. When I am truly grateful for all that I am blessed with, I can focus on the real promises our Father has made, particularly the greatest promise: salvation through the life, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Note the promise embedded in these verses: “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving [NB: attitude of gratitude], make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6-7.