13But the angel of the LORD said to him, “Do not be afraid Zechariah; your prayer has been answered; your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son…” … 18Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”
Luke 1:13, 18 (NIV)
Disappointment has a way of jading us and jarring our faith in God’s word. This disappointment usually revolves around requests, the satisfaction of which is not assured in God’s word. We plant expectations in soil that is not designed to support (these expectations). We make requests for things that are not promised but are more dependent on the intersection of hopeful desire and our uniqueness as God’s children. We think that God will not withhold from us that which we think or judge to be in our best interest. We have no such promise in his word. God is not bound to our feelings of entitlement. He is however bound to his word and the promises that he has made therein.
In the passage above, Zechariah seeks an assurance that God’s word is indeed true. He has been praying for a child and receives God’s promise through the angel Gabriel that this will soon occur. It took Balaam, the Moabite prophet in the book of Numbers to declare that “God is not a man that he should lie, nor the son of man, that he should change his mind” (Numbers 23:19 NIV). In fact, Zechariah is struck mute because of his inability to believe God’s promise. God can be trusted to honor his word! It is therefore up to us to know what he has promised and more importantly what he has not.
God has not promised that my life will be free of challenge. Neither has he promised that my prayer will immediately result in the removal of my difficult circumstance. He has not promised complete restoration of my relationships (no matter how many times I ask). He has not promised clarity of the future nor has he promised specific direction when we get to a fork in life’s road. He has not promised the delivery of a particular future that we envision or even think to be in keeping with “his will.” We are therefore asking in vain if we repeat what Zechariah asked: “How can I be sure of this?” Does this mean that we limit the nature of our requests? By no means! Psalm 84:11 (KJV) declares “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” God differentiates between those requests that are discretionary and in accordance with his sovereignty and those that are guaranteed by his word.
Among these things that are guaranteed by his word (and therefore God’s obligations to keep) include his salvation (Ephesians 2:8), peace (Philippians 4:7), wisdom (James 1:5) , presence (Matthew 28:20), preservation (Psalm 91:11-12, 1 Cor 10:13), provision (Philippians 4:19), protection (Psalm 91:1-2), confidence (Philippians 1:6), maturity (Galatians 5:22) and an eternal future with him (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). I invite you to spend time in his word so that the clarity of what he has promised forms the basis for your expectations.
Can God be trusted? Absolutely! He can be trusted to honor what he has promised in his word!