In recent years, my children have come to realize that promises are a big deal. I can tell them directly and explicitly all sorts of things, such as “I’ll be home early today,” “We’ll go to the zoo, or the store this Saturday,” or “You can have a bedtime snack as long as you eat all your food.” Yet these statements never seem to give them the confidence and assurance that they are seeking. To each of these questions and countless more, I’m confronted with a familiar question, “Do you promise, Daddy?”
I think my children’s desire for a promise is rooted in their deep desire for assurance that what I’ve said will, in fact, come true.
Throughout the Bible we encounter the promises of God, words that have offered comfort, hope, and peace to countless people throughout all of human history. We are told that the Lord will bless His people and through them bring His blessings to the entire world (see Gen. 12:2). We are reminded that the Lord is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble (see Psalm 46:1). And we know that the Lord will never leave us or forsake us (see Deut. 31:6).
Yet what we often find in Scripture, such as this passage from Isaiah, is our need for the Lord to reassure us of His faithfulness to the promises He has made. Especially in a world that so often suffers under the crippling weight of injustice, at times it is hard to see the hand of God at work in our midst. We, like my young children, look around us and say, “Lord, do you promise?”
When we are invited to have a childlike faith, part of that invitation is to trust in the goodness and love of God just as a child trusts the love and care of their parents. When God promises to lead His children into joy and peace, He does so as a loving father who delights to give good gifts to His children (see Mt. 7:11). As our creator and sustainer, the one in whom we live and move and have our being (see Acts 17:28), we trust that He is strong enough and powerful enough to bring about that which He commands. Even when we don’t understand, even if we aren’t sure how He is going to bring good out of so much pain and tragedy, we must take heart and remember that the word of the Lord never returns empty and always achieves its purpose.