by Robb Brewer
When I suffer, this comforts me: Your promise gives me life.Psalm 119:50 (NCV)
My father died ten years ago. I enjoy many memories of him every day, but some of the most significant memories are those from my childhood. One memory in particular that has stayed with me is a phrase Dad would say to me whenever I messed up in a ballgame (which happened often): “Promise me you’ll do your best.”
I was an extraordinarily below-average athlete. Football wasn’t my best sport. Neither was basketball, baseball, soccer, track or anything else. But Dad would still come to my games and cheer for me. I’m sure he experienced a fleeting sense of disappointment when his boy missed a tackle, got creamed by a linebacker or let a hot line drive sneak between his legs. But, he never scolded me. I never saw disappointment. Instead, he would say: “Just promise me, you’ll do your best.”
I used to think, “do your best,” was the most important part of the phrase. Now that I’m older, I actually think it’s the first part—“promise me”—because a promise is a verbal covenant with another person. My promise demands I’ll do my best when I feel my worst. But more importantly, it establishes community in a world of isolation. When I’ve made a promise to someone, I know I haven’t been left alone to win the battle by myself. While I was the one making the promise to my father, the promise was as much his as mine. My father was saying: “Son, you’ll never be left alone to battle despair. I will always believe in you.”
We all experience seasons when our worship feels stale. Sometimes a song doesn’t minister as it once did, the Bible doesn’t come alive for us or we just sense a lonely distance between ourselves and God. We ache to hear the voice of the Lord—to feel His presence. We cry out, but hear our own voice echoing against the caverns of our heart. We wonder: Do You hear me, Lord? Are You still there?
In reply, all we hear is silence.
So what do you do when facing this thundering stillness? You stand upon the promise. You see, God in His great foreknowledge knew days would come when your humanity would dominate your soul. Unlike my earthly father who said, “Promise me,” my heavenly Father says: “I promise you.” And His promises are endless. “I promise I’ll never leave you. I promise I’m going to make a place for you. I promise I’ll come back for you. I promise I love you. I promise … I promise … I promise.”
When the voice of our Father seems silent, His promises bellow from the mountains. And just when we realize we can never fulfill our part of the promise— commitment and perfection—the Lord sweeps in like a superhero and says: “Don’t worry. This one’s on Me.” And then He bears the burden of every sin at a place called Calvary. He reminds us: “Your sins are forgiven. I promise.”
When the Lord seems still, His promise is active. When our hearts waver, His promise is firm. When we sense the stench of death, His promise is life. David wrote in Psalm 19:50 (NCV): “When I suffer, this comforts me: Your promise gives me life.” The next time your worship feels empty, would you turn your heart to God’s promises?
My dad’s words still ring in my ears: “Promise me, you’ll do your best.” Yes, Dad. I promise.
And when I cry out: “Do you hear me, Lord? Are You still there?” My heavenly Dad’s words still comfort my heart: “Yes, Son. I promise.”
The promise, made when I am in love and because I am in love, to be true to the beloved as long as I live, commits me to being true even if I cease to be in love.C.S. LEWIS
Father, may Your promises be revealed through our worship. We ask that we wouldn’t be caught up so much in the notes and chords of a service, but that they would be totally internalized so we can dedicate our energy to raw worship. And may all of Your promises leap from our worship, so a lost world might become found. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
- Read the scriptures in the “Further Study” section below to gain a better understanding of God’s promises to you.
- Let those promises from God inform your worship. When worship feels still and stagnant, meditate on His promises and praise Him.
For Further Study
- Psalm 119:50
- Ephesians 1:3–14
- 2 Corinthians 1:15–22
- Hebrews 13:5
- 2 Peter 1:3–4