Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
A couple were devoted to each other and had been married for over 50 years. But he became ill and eventually died, leaving her a widow.
At the graveside service, she needed to sit in a chair due to her age as others stood. And at the end of the service, she looked down into the grave and spoke to her dead husband:
You know I loved you all these years. We’ve been together through thick and thin, and I promised to be with you. But now I’ve gone as far as I can go. I can’t go any further. I’ve gone as far as I can go.
I think it’s a very moving tribute, but also very true. When the time comes for our death, who is there to help? Is there any answer? Yes, there is. And we only need to look at the pages of the Bible when God spoke to a man named Joshua after Moses had died. And God made a promise to Joshua:
No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
God is always with us
This was a powerful promise which is still relevant today. God’s word is for now, and God says that to you and me, I am always with you. That’s a promise unlike any other—one that empowers, energises, and strengthens us. And for God, a promise is a promise that will never be broken.
I’m reminded of a remarkable book written by Dr Wayne Dyer, A Promise Is a Promise. It’s a true story of a mother Kaye O’Bara in Miami who cared for her comatose daughter Edwarda for many years. Edwarda was 16 when one night she fell into a diabetic coma, not able to move. But as she slipped into unconsciousness, she appealed to her mother, “Promise you won’t leave me, will you, Mommy?” “Of course not, I would never leave you, darling,” her mother said. “I promise. And a promise is a promise!”
And she stayed by her bedside every day, feeding her every two hours and checking her blood and giving her insulin every four hours—until Kaye died 38 years later, in March 2008. Why did she do it? Because she told her daughter, “I will never leave you. A promise is a promise”. She kept that promise for 38 years, 7 days-a-week. What wonderful strength and tenacity.
God’s promise: He will never leave us
But what drives God to make such a promise that he will never abandon us? What’s behind this promise ensuring that God will not change his mind? After all, he’s God—he can do whatever he wants. The answer is found in 1 Samuel. It doesn’t simply make the same promise as Hebrews 13:5, but goes one step further and tells us why:
For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself. (1 Samuel 12:22)
Why will God keep his promise and never leave us or forsake us? Because of himself. Because of his faithfulness. And because of his pleasure. Deuteronomy 7.6 tells us that God chose his people to be his ‘treasured possession’. In other words, he has pleasure in his people. He treasures us and saves us! But not because of anything that depends on us. Not because we’re good or keep all the rules or have earned anything. He will not forsake his people “for his great name’s sake.” At the risk of his own name and fame, he will not forsake his people. Why? “Because it pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.” He will never leave us because he has pleasure in keeping his promise, and God does whatever he pleases.
When we hear Kate O’Bara say to her daughter, “I will never leave you”, there in her bedroom in Miami, can we not at the same time hear the words of Jesus saying, “Behold, I am with you always”? For that is the great promise he has given to us. No matter how dark our days, no matter how bleak our prospects seem to be, that promise is there, “I am with you always.” Like Edwarda, as we slip into the darkness of life, we cry out to the Lord, “Please don’t leave me.” And his answer is there for all time, for all eternity, really—”I am with you always.”
No matter what you’re going through right now, be encouraged because God is with you! He has promised never to fail you; he has promised to never abandon you! All you have to do is trust him and wait for him. His timing may be different from yours, but if you hold on, God will definitely come through for you. And that’s a promise you can rely upon!