This Hope: Power in His Promises

As I continue to wrestle with the way suffering builds our hope and how hope can help us endure, I keep visualizing this 80s poster:

While this frisky feline holds little hope of getting down without some help, he does have some claws to aid in his hanging on. We, however, lack retractable nails – but we actually have something better! For those moments and seasons when we need to hang in there, we have God’s promises.

Light and Life

In the beginning God created…everything! He brought forth light from darkness by speaking a word. He put the sun, moon, and stars in the heavens and separated the water from the land on earth. He fashioned animals, like cute kittens, and trees, like the one to which the kitten clings. And He made us! In all, God creates light and lots of life!

The poetry of John 1 shows how the rhythms and ideas of Creation are also the story of Christ:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”

John 1:1-4

Christ is life, but it’s more than our physical, bodily function – it’s also “the hope for living each day. It’s waking up with joyful possibility. It’s holding on, knowing that better days are coming.”1 We are learning that God is our source of hope, and in Christ we see how the life we are given is meant to be more than drudgery and despair, more than mere survival. In Christ we’re meant to flourish. Even as we walk through the low places, there’s more to life than fading into the darkness. 

But, it’s not all on us. Let’s keep pulling that refrain from Isaiah back into the foreground, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength” (40:31). The image Scripture continually gives us is that of yoking ourselves to the One who can help carry the load (Matthew 11:28-30) – it’s not struggling through life on our own.

Perhaps the most misquoted verse in all of Scripture is 1 Corinthians 10:13. We hear too often that “God won’t give us more than we can carry,” yet we feel the opposite of that on our worst days. Which only makes us wonder about God, right? But the truth in 1 Corinthians 10:13 is not about the heaviness of life – it’s about how God will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear. 

(Crazy side note: check out how that verse ends: “But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” Even in temptation, God helps us endure so we won’t give up!!!!).

So. Nowhere in Scripture does it say God won’t give us more than we can handle. Life is hard! And as we’ve seen in the last few weeks, Scripture agrees: Jesus warns us life will have troubles (John 16:33). Peter tells us life will have suffering (1 Peter). Paul assumes there will be pain because we are followers of the One who suffered and died (Philippians 1:29). Friends, we need to step out of the disappointment we have for God when it appears He keeps giving us way more than we can handle and, instead, pick up the truth. He is with us. He will help us.

With our Source of Hope, we can grab hold of the promises of light and life that say Jesus extends life to the weary and offers Himself, the Light of the World, to be our ray of hope in the darkest places.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Promise Keeper

We can trace all sorts of promises God has made throughout Scripture – like He will strengthen and help us (Isaiah 41:10); or His grace is sufficient for us (2 Corinthians 12:9); or when we confess our sin, He is faithful to forgive us (1 John 1:9). So. Many. Promises. But, here’s the kicker, God has never, nor will He ever, break a promise. Joshua says, “Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled” (21:45). 

And, beyond the promises made to Israel, God also kept every promise about extending saving grace to all the world through a Savior (Psalm 67; Isaiah 9). There are well over 300 prophecies about the coming Messiah throughout the Old Testament, and Jesus fulfills every single one of them. 

Hear this: Jesus is God’s ultimate kept-promise.

It is through the sending of His one-of-a-kind Son that God proves His love for us and His trustworthiness: “This is how the love of God is revealed to us: God has sent his only Son into the world so that we can live through him” (1 John 4:9 CEB). That revelation of God’s love comes by way of light,2 and it keeps the promise made to Abraham when the covenant was cut all those years ago (Genesis 17:3-5).

If we need any proof that God is ”Promise Keeper,” we need to look no further than Jesus.

Friend, in our sorrows and our sufferings, “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise” (Hebrews 10:23 NLT). Just as He kept His promise to usher in a way to save all nations, all people, He will keep His promises to you. 

Preserving Life

And, one of the biggest promises is life!
Remember your word to your servant,
    for you have given me hope.
My comfort in my suffering is this:
    Your promise preserves my life.

Psalm 119:49-50 NIV, emphasis mine

Whoever is the author of this Psalm, they seem to grasp the correlations we’ve been making. As they connect the dots from “word” to “hope” to “suffering” to “promise” to “life,” they demonstrate how God’s Word gives hope – how when we suffer then recall the promises found in the Word, we are revived.3  All our weariness of body, heart, mind, and spirit are brought to life. 

Photo by Miriam G on Unsplash

As we read (in the previous section) in 1 John 4:9, “that we can live through” Christ, John’s talk of living can mean eternal life, but the Greek here actually refers to life right now. This life is a gift from God, and we’re meant to live it emphatically and with joy because it is active, blessed, and endless!4 

God’s Word gives life…and, we’ve made the full circle. John 1, Jesus the Word made flesh (v.14). In Him we have everything we need. In Him we have what Sarah Wanck calls the function of life – breath in our bodies. But she reminds us that we also have “the fullness of formation in Him that gives our life meaning.”1 Not only is Jesus everywhere, but He’s our everything:

“And the life that is found in Him is our hope for today and the light of the world. Our hope, our everything is found in the One who has always been.”

Sarah Wanck

Friends, I know we each struggle – whether it’s for breath or bread or better days – but God promises to be with us. He promises to go through every dark valley with us (Psalm 23:4). And His presence changes everything – it gives us this hope because of His Word; it revives us back to life because of His light; it empowers us to keep hanging in there because of His promises.

God will keep His promises. Somehow, some way God will make a way.

We’ll give commentator Matthew Henry the final word today, “Those that make God’s promises their portion, may with humble boldness make them their plea.”5

Father God, You are Promise Keeper, Way Maker. In You there is no falseness, no failure to keep your word. Forgive us when we fall to the temptation of blaming You for all our struggles. Forgive us when we doubt your goodness and your perfect promises. We desire to live life to its fullest because You have given us this life and You have promised to go with us throughout it. Thank You for giving us your Word as our hope! Lord Jesus, You are the Light of the World, a light for our dark places and a light to be shared. You were there at Creation and spoke us into being. Then You gave your life so that we can live with You in eternity AND in the here and now full of hope and joy. You see us, so You know the weight of our burdens, the depths of our sorrows, and the way darkness tempts us to doubt and give up. You source our hope so that in this hard life we can live and move and have our being. Thank You for your life and light! Holy Spirit, You are the breath of life, the spirit that fills our lungs. And You dwell in us as One who reminds us of all Jesus has spoken – all the promises He has made – so that we will claim them as our own. Thank You for all the ways You’ve helped us hang on. Oh, please, help us to keep hanging on! Today we make God’s promises our portion and in humble boldness we make them our plea. In Jesus’ name, amen.
(inspired by Hebrews 10:23; Numbers 23:19; 1 John 1:9, 4:9; Deuteronomy 31:8; Psalm 119:49-50; John 8:12; Matthew 5:14-16; John 1:1-4; John 3:16; Matthew 11:28-30; Acts 17:24-28; Job 27:3; 1 Corinthians 3:16; John 14:26; Matthew Henry)

Resources: I love sharing with you the books, podcasts, articles, and anything else that has inspired, encouraged, or taught me. These are humble offerings with no expectations.

  • 1 – Wake Up Call, Sarah Wanck’s Advent opener on 12/1/22, “New Beginnings
  • 2 – Greek for “revealed to us,” phaneroo, is derived from phaino, which means “to give light and become visible;” it is derived from phos, which meanslight” – literally, “was brought to light” and so conveys the sense that God’s love (by itself not clearly visible) was made clearly visible. Got this from
    • (I get a little geeky over all this – the dots just keep connecting.)
  • 3 – The literal translation of “preserves my life” from the Greek word, ḥî·yā·ṯə·nî, is to revive back to life.
  • 4 – Greek for “live through him” is zaó, meaning “to live, experience God’s gift of life. Specifically in this verse, “emphatically, and in the Messianic sense, to enjoy real life, i. e. to have true life and worthy of the name — active, blessed, endless in the kingdom of God …by the gift and power of Christ it is shared in by the faithful.” (also from
  • 5 – Matthew Henry’s thoughts on Psalm 119:50 as found on
  • On our “This Hope” playlist, we have a new song! “I Stand in Awe” by Chris Tomlin and Nicole Serrano – the perfect lyrics to flow from our lips as we consider all these truths about God:

    When I consider what You have made
    The mighty oceans, the fiery stars
    The fields and forests give You praise
    My Lord, my God
    I stand in awe of You

    When I consider what You have done
    I see Your suffering, I see Your scars
    Oh, the wonder, oh, the love
    My Lord (my Lord)
    My God (my God)
    I stand in awe of You
    I stand in awe!

Rhythms we can incorporate into our daily lives to aid us in our dwelling with God, living for Him, and putting our hope in Him:

  • As we put our rhythm of meditation into practice, let’s recall that eastern meditation seeks to empty the mind and self of everything, but Christian meditation desires to fill our minds and beings with Christ. SO — each day, to the best of our abilities, let’s meditate on God’s Word, or as my friend JD Walt says, “ruminate on the Word just as a cow ruminates on his cud.” In other words, don’t rush. Read. Pause. Listen. Reread. Pause. Receive.
    • This week, we can meditate (or ruminate) on Psalm 119:49-50. Take your time, giving the Spirit space to speak, prompt, and lead. Read less for information and more for inspiration — to the point of looking for what you can discover about who God is (rather than what He can do for you).
  • Finally, as a community, let us not neglect sharing God’s hope with others! Share your God-stories with people around you. Share this site. Share God’s Word. Shine His light into the world! 

Featured Photo by Bogdan Cotos on Unsplash. Bits and Pieces photo by Aleksandra Sapozhnikova on Unsplash.
^ Affiliate link, with which I may earn a bit. 

Published by Shelley Linn Johnson

Lover of The Word. And words. Cultivator of curiosity about all things Christ. Lifelong learner who likes inviting others along for the journey. Recovering perfectionist who has only recently realized that rhythms are so much better than stress-inducing must-do's.

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