Promises and circumstances in conflict

Don't we need to pay close attention both to God's promises and to our circumstances? God gave us the promises so we can cling to them in faith. He allowed our circumstances so that we might learn to cling to the promises.

Tension between promises and circumstances runs throughout Scripture. God promised Abraham that he'd be the father of a great nation. Yet he had a long wait until Isaac was born. David was anointed as king by Samuel, but he had many years of running from Saul. Habakkuk cried out to God because the kingdom was corrupt, and God's response was to bring on the Babylonians.

But our tendency is to do away with the tension by ignoring or disbelieving the promises or our circumstances.

We may disbelieve the promises. If the promises were really true, I wouldn't be in the mess I'm in. Therefore the promises can't be true.

We may ignore our circumstances. Maybe if I ignore the mess, it will go away? Maybe I'm supposed to pretend everything is OK?  Or maybe there is some secret to making the promises really work -- a special prayer, a different church, a new doctrine, something to turn on the magic wonder working power so all major problems go away and I won't be bugged by them.

But suppose God wants us to understand he is with us in precisely these circumstances he's given us? Yes they are messy and painful, and a superficial look at the promises suggests they shouldn't have happened. But look at the people of faith in Scripture, did they not have to wait many years, and even then not see the promises fully fulfilled?

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