Yesterday was an interesting day. I was forced to deal with the truth of God which I currently have a hard time believing. Even now I hesitate to tell you for fear that it might push you away from the church rather than toward it (and honestly, I fear others thinking less of me). So as I begin, let me say something very clearly about God’s word for us in Scripture. This is an important lesson God taught me over the past week:
Don’t accept something because you are able to believe it, accept it because it is true.
Now, just that phrase will send theologically-minded thinkers and debaters running down a rabbit trail talking about how we know something to be true. I’m not here to debate that. What I can say is that when you read the Bible with an ear for the truth of God, when you seek to hear truth – real truth – God will show it to you. God reveals Himself to those who truly seek Him.
With that in mind, I knew this promise of God to be true: and as a recap, yesterday I was preaching from Haggai chapter 2 (a very popular book for preachers – he said with tongue in cheek). In Haggai chapter 2 the prophet is speaking to the leaders of God’s people, the ones who have just recently returned from exile. They have come back to the “promised land” that was destroyed by the enemy. The temple itself was in ruins as well. Through Haggai the Lord says to those leaders and the people – I am going to restore your land and the house of God to a greater glory than you can even remember. It’s not a carrot dangled before them to get them to dance to God’s tune. It is not an inspirational speech telling them, “you can do this.” It is a promise that God will do a new thing even in the midst of what seems to have come undone.
So, I tried to preach that promise to the church where there are significantly less people this week than there was the same week 3 years ago. I did my best to proclaim this promise of God to a room less full than it had been. That was really hard. I feel the burden of the loss. I feel the weight of the empty seats. I have come to a place where internally I carry the failure. And then God leads me to this passage. God makes me not only hear the promise, but he leads me to preach it. It was one of the hardest sermons for me to deliver because I had to keep listening to my own voice declaring a promise I found so hard to believe.
But here’s the point of all this: the good news is not that I believe this promise, the good news is that the promise is true. The reality of God and the future promise of God does not depend on my ability to believe. The future glory depends only on the faithfulness of God to deliver on His promise. And God is faithful.
I say all this to you and share my unbelief for this reason – you may be in a place where you hear God’s promise but find it hard to believe. Where God says you are forgiven, you may think your sin is too great. Where God says I will never leave you, you may feel like God is nowhere to be found. Where God says, I have come to give you life and give it to the full, you may wonder if it will ever happen for you. The good news is that God’s promises may not always be believable, but they are always true. You may find it hard to believe what the Bible says God will do and is doing, but your doubt in God does not negate God’s mercy and love and grace for you.
God’s promises are not always believable, but they are always true. That’s the hope I cling to. I encourage you to do the same.
Holy high-five to you,