God’s promises are meant to build up our expectations in Him. We are to claim His Word as the rock-solid promise of a loving, powerful Father to His children. Yet, often, when we don’t see His Word being fulfilled according to our schedule, the enemy floods our minds with questions about God’s faithfulness. Satan’s aim is simple: to rob us of all our confidence in the Lord.
I’m convinced the devil tried to raise all kinds of doubts in John the Baptist when he was in prison. I imagine him whispering into John’s ear: “Yes, this Jesus is a holy man. But He’s just another prophet performing miracles and doing good deeds. If He is the Messiah, then why are you still in such need? Why hasn’t He kept His word, as Isaiah and the prophets laid it out? And why hasn’t your own preaching worked for you?”
Satan uses these same lies and deceptions against us today. His goal is to plant seeds of doubt in us about God’s Word, His promises, His delight in us. The enemy whispers: “You say your heavenly Father is a God of miracles, of the impossible, that He hears your requests before you even ask. Then why all this suffering? Why all the silence from heaven? Why isn’t there a single shred of evidence that God has heard your cry?
“Look around you. Everyone is receiving answers to their prayers but you. You’re stuck in an unfulfilling marriage. You pray for your children to be saved, but nothing changes. For years, you’ve preached God’s faithfulness to others, so why hasn’t it worked for you? Why has He left you stuck in this awful condition?”
One sure evidence that unbelief has taken root in your soul is that you quit praying for what you once believed God could do. You no longer bring your burdens to Him. You don’t come to Him in faith anymore. In short, you’re no longer willing to let Him do things His way in your life.
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7).
Abraham was neither Christian nor Jew. As far as we know, he didn’t have any history with God at all. But one day he was commanded by God, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). So Abraham packed up and left!
We all venerate Abraham as our forefather in the faith, but his story is actually sort of strange. Here’s a man who had everything—wealth and heritage, a wonderful wife, and plenty of cattle and land. Yet, incredibly, when a voice told him, “Get up and leave,” he heeded it. He willingly separated himself from everything he knew, even good things, to follow God.
Now, let me ask those of you who are married: Would you think it strange if your spouse said a voice had told him to give up his job, his home and possessions, and move his family to another state with no promise of support or income? Even if he thought he had heard from God? Maybe you would be willing to go—but wouldn’t you be tempted to call a psychiatrist first?
What compelled Abraham to do this? What empowered such clear separation? A look at Stephen in Acts 6 and 7 provides some insight. Stephen was clearly set apart for God’s purposes, working miracles and wonders in Christ’s name in the early Church. Yet this got him into trouble with the religious leaders. As he stood before them on trial, he preached, “Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia” (Acts 7:2).
Stephen was saying, in effect, “Are you offended by my faith? Well, it all started when our father Abraham left behind his dependency on the things of this world to follow God. Once he beheld the Lord’s glory, he gladly separated himself from everything he knew!”
Many of you reading this know what Stephen was talking about. When you first encountered Christ, you recognized, “I just tasted something I’ve never tasted before. I’ve never known this kind of joy. I’ve never experienced this awe. I know for sure I’m on holy ground.”
When I think of how tender and compassionate God was toward me during the time I went home to bury my mother, I sometimes find myself overwhelmed by His goodness and mercy. At a time when I most needed comfort, He was right there beside me, holding me, whispering in my ear, “Don’t worry, Nicky. Your mother is with me.” I found greater shelter and solace in the arms of God than I could have ever found on earth.
In my hour of need, I crawled into the heart of Christ, and He embraced me, as He has always done during dark and lonely moments. This is the relationship I have with Jesus. It is how He lets me know how much He cares for me—how He cares for all those who depend on Him. For those who love Him and accept Him as the Brother.
It reminds me of when my children were very small. There were times when they were playing on the carpet and they would hurt their finger on a toy. They’d start to cry, and I would go over to see what had happened. I’d bend down and extend my arms and say, “Come see Daddy. Let me kiss the hurt.”
They would immediately crawl toward me and let me lift them onto my lap. And then I would hold them, kiss them, and comfort them. “Don’t worry,” I’d whisper softly into their ear. “Daddy is here. Everything will be all right.”
That’s the kind of relationship He wants each of us to have with Him. That’s the kind of God we serve. His compassion runs deep and wide and knows no limits. His love is as real and vibrant as the morning mist or the evening sky. “In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge,” David wrote. “Be my rock of refuge, to which I always go. . . . From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you” (Psalm 71:1, 3, 6).
David understood that without God’s mercy and compassion, his life would not be worth living. He didn’t just serve the God of the universe; he had a real relationship with a loving and gracious Father. That’s what set him apart from other kings and Jews of the day. That’s what endeared him to God so powerfully.
And that’s how God wants all of His children to see Him.
Nicky Cruz, internationally known evangelist and prolific author, turned to Jesus Christ from a life of violence and crime after meeting David Wilkerson in New York City in 1958. The story of his dramatic conversion was told first in The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and then later in his own best-selling book Run, Baby, Run.
David listened to God’s word from the prophet Nathan and he repented and obeyed. As a result, he spent the rest of his life growing in his knowledge of God. The Lord brought great peace into David’s life, and eventually all his enemies were silenced.
Yet the clearest evidence of God’s restoration in David’s life is his own testimony. Read what David wrote in his dying days:
The reason that David will forever be known as “a man after God’s own heart” is because he quickly and genuinely repented of his sins. Proverbs tells us:
If you are being probed by God’s Word—if His Spirit isn’t letting you sit comfortably in your sin—then you are being shown mercy. It is the deep love of God at work, wooing you out of death and into life.
Will you respond to Him as David did? If so, you’ll know true restoration and reconciliation. And God will restore everything the enemy has stolen.
It’s true that King David paid severe consequences for his sin; in fact, he prophesied judgment upon himself. He told the prophet Nathan that the rich man who stole the poor man’s lamb should restore it fourfold (see 2 Samuel 12:5-6). And that’s just what happened in David’s life: The baby that Bathsheba birthed died within days. And three of David’s other sons—Ammon, Absalom and Adonijah—all had tragic, untimely deaths. So, David did pay for his sin with four of his own lambs.
Yet the Bible clearly shows that whenever we return to the Lord in genuine, heartfelt repentance, God responds by bringing absolute reconciliation and restoration. We do not have to end up like Saul, descending into madness and terror. Nor do we have to “fade away” from life, biding our time in quiet shame until the Lord takes us home. On the contrary, the prophet Joel assures us that God steps in immediately when we return to him: “Rend your heart . . . and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil” (Joel 2:13).
Amazingly, God then gives us this incredible promise: “I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten. . . . And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed” (Joel 2:25–26). The Lord promises to restore all.
Understand, when this prophecy was given, God had already pronounced judgment on Israel. But the people repented, and God said, “Now I’m going to do wonderful things for you. I’m going to restore everything the devil has stolen.”
Beloved, God’s tender mercy allows even the worst sinner to say, “I’m not a drug addict. I’m not an alcoholic. I’m not an adulterer. I am a child of the living God, with all the rights of heaven in my soul. I no longer live under condemnation, because my past is fully behind me. And I don’t have to pay for any past sins, because Jesus paid the price for me. What’s more, He said He’ll restore everything to me.”