God is faithful, and He keeps his promises.
When God says, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5), He means it. Psalm 34:19 promises, “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all.” God’s word is loaded with His promises, and they are all true.
But if you know me, you know that I’m going to look at this issue from another angle.
Jesus also promised some things when he was on earth. He promised that “if they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20). In Matthew 24:9 Jesus warns that “you will be hated by all nations because of me.”
I haven’t done a definitive study on all the promises of the Bible – maybe someone more diligent than me has – but I’m fairly sure that if we found all the promises in the Bible and put them in a big pile, the comforting promises would outnumber the not-so-pleasant promises. However, we can’t just pick through the pile and select the ones that appeal to us. Jesus said in John 16:2, “in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.” It’s a fact; a promise.
Now, nobody wants nations to hate us, nor do we necessarily want to be killed by misguided radicals. It’s not like we run to embrace this promise.
However, if we are truly following in Jesus’ footsteps, we will make enemies. If we follow his command to “Go,” we could find ourselves in countries where people kill Christ-followers. It’s not very pleasant to think about, but it’s a fact. Remember, it was promised by Jesus.
Sometimes when I tell people that I’m going to North Africa with Pioneer Bible Translators, they raise their eyebrows and ask, “Isn’t it dangerous there?” Some have outright told me, “No – don’t go THERE!” But at this point, it’s not really up to me. Where I go is in God’s hands. Of course, I’m not ignorant of the situation in the part of the world where I’m going. Sure, I get nervous. Yes, Satan puts doubts in my head.
I believe this is exactly why there are so, so many encouraging promises from God. When we are hated because of Christ, when our lives are in peril because we are followers of Jesus, when we are persecuted, we will have promises like the one he told Joshua: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
And that’s a promise I can live – and die – with.