When His Promises Seem Like a Big Joke
And It's Not Funny Anymore
God shows you something in Scripture so crystal clear, and it’s so powerful. He tells you it’s yours in due time, so you wait in expectation. Then it never happens. Instead, you see other people have it, and they’re not even close to God. You ever been in this situation?
You enjoy the Word so much and God gives you profound revelations each moment (and I mean each moment)—He pours so profusely that you overflow with effervescence in the Spirit. Yet, the more it happens the more your life seems a big joke. The more you’re spiritual the more things are withheld from you—while others get them in full.
A Big JOKE
A church prayed to have money to remodel their small, dilapidated building. They prayed hard for two years, fasted several times, and then money started coming in. Slowly, they were able to do some remodeling, piece by piece. Rev. Ben, the pastor, shared about the blessing to other pastors and they were delighted. Soon they, too, started praying and fasting for their church buildings. Well, some were not as blessed—money never came—and felt inferior to those who marveled during testimony time that money started coming in trickles for their church projects!
Rev. Ben talked about it to his non-Christian friend to show how God was blessing them. “You prayed and fasted two years?” the friend asked surprised. “Well, my mansion is about to be finished, and it only took 2 and a half months. And that’s with 3 brand new cars for the garage. Oh, and that’s my fifth property. And I didn’t even pray for it.”
Abraham was Supposed to Build a Nation
Abraham was promised offspring as numerous as the stars in the sky (Gen.15). God took him out and they walked together and looked up the sky. Have you ever felt that way in your Word meditation? As you deeply study the Word with the Holy Spirit, God shows up right before you and speaks His words in the bible straight from His very mouth. Not only that, He puts an arm around your shoulder and takes you out to show you things.
I have that experience each time I open my bible or casually think about verses or talk with God. He not only takes me out but takes me to bible times so that I actually see with my eyes bible events taking place. I really see Moses cutting the sea in two, David hitting Goliath dead, Esther attracting Xerxes that very night, the 12 spies sampling grapes as big as coconuts, things like that. I even talk to them and ask them a few questions. Grandest of all, I become one of the 12 disciples and become more beloved than John was. And there are bonuses: Jesus and I run, laugh, climb mountains, kick tables in the temple, walk on water, and do our quiet times together.
But that does NOT get you special rewards on earth. Being like that is no guarantee you’d get God’s promises easily like a piece of cake and live happily ever after on planet earth. But one thing is sure—getting that experience doubles the cost of the cross Jesus makes you carry daily. And soon your life seems to be one BIG joke.
After Abraham got the promise of having an entire nation for a family (he was 75 then), he started getting fertility problems. He couldn’t understand why. He probably thought, “God gave me the promise, so how come my life seems more and more contradictory to it than smoothly flowing to its culmination?” He wasn’t able to produce even a single son with Sarah, what more a nation? The whole thing seemed like a big joke. While all around him, couples easily produced offspring, just like that, and didn’t need to get some promise or special revelation from God. They just produced kids. No sweat. They didn’t even need to have a special relationship with Him. No wonder Abraham tried to fulfill the promise himself with Hagar. When things begin looking like a sick joke, you think of doing something to make things happen. If God won’t do what He promised, I will.
Wait Till You’re 100 Years Old?
The promise did come, but it came when things looked so hopeless—Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90. Romans 4 said Abraham never weakened in faith and was fully persuaded that God had power to fulfill the promise. So, if you boast of having an Abrahamic relationship with God, brace yourself—never weaken and always be fully persuaded about God—because promises often have a way of appearing like one big joke. And if you become misguidedly desperate, you’d try fulfilling the promises yourself (anyway they’re biblical) and get an Ishmael than an Isaac. God blessed Ishmael, too (Gen.17.20), but he was permanently cut-off from God’s real inheritance (Gal.4.30).
Some would say that in our case, having Jesus in us would ensure better conditions than what Abraham had. Oh yeah? Probably. In some ways, yes. But Jesus said he never came to cancel out the Law but to fulfill it. Moreover, God never changes (Mal.3.6). God today is very much like what He was with Abraham. He is the great “I AM.”
The Joke was so Funny
Abraham and Sarah laughed, finding the “joke” funny. Abraham too old for sex, and Sarah’s womb as good as dead. And they’d have children as many as the stars? But God insisted that it was no joke. Finally, Isaac was born. And Isaac means “he laughs” or “laughter.” Everything looked more and more like a laughing matter. Even Hagar was making a big deal out of it, which irked Sarah. But soon, they began to learn how God worked.
With too many jokes happening in your life, you gradually understand how God works. Then you learn how to laugh with God. Sarah said: “God has given me laughter—and everyone who learns of this will laugh with me.” See, Sarah was beginning to enjoy the fun. The big joke turns out to be amusing. God wants us to have great sense of humor and laugh at His jokes.
You begin to see clearly that big jokes are necessary to propel you upward to higher grounds. There, you enjoy God more. God does not give Ishmaels big jokes. If you’re an Ishmael like the guy who built his mansion with 3 cars in the garage for only 2 and half months, God’s NOT gonna give you His special big jokes. Yes, you get blessed like Ishmael did but you miss out completely on the inheritance.
Okay, so Isaac was born. Great. But the promise was a nation, not just a child. And the joke didn’t stop with that—Isaac’s wife was also barren and Jacob, after 14 harrowing years of being a big joke under Laban’s power, married a wife who was barren, too. Abraham could have well sang, “I started a joke…but I guess the joke was on me.”
Abraham is the Epitome of Blessings
Now, don’t get me wrong. Abraham was not a born loser. He was God’s faith champ. But before being a real champ you have to suffer some cruel life jokes first, big jokes where you’d look stupid and wrong and earn people’s Hagaric satire. But in God’s eyes, you’re blessed. Just like Job was really in God’s special favor when he was suffering despicable troubles. Just make sure you’re deep in God. Sin can also render you direly woeful, as it can also make you look extravagantly abundant.
God wants us prosperous in every way—in spirit, health, and wealth (3 John 2 and Deu. 8.18). But we get genuine prosperity only after we learn God’s power through the cross (1 Cor. 1.18), after we learn to live like Jesus.
Death in You, Life for Others
When you go through the transforming processes of the Jesus cross, you die with Christ and He lives your life. It’s not you anymore who live. And when people see this (especially your disciples) it’s LIFE for them. “Thus, death works in us, but life works in you,” (2Cor.4.12).
Abraham suffered 25 years of near hopeless waiting after he received the promise at 75. Imagine such answer-less prayer life. God shows his will for you, yet you never get it no matter how hard you pray—until God’s timetable says so. In the meantime, you suffer unanswered prayers.
But when it came for Abraham to pray for others, he got immediate, powerful results. He prayed for Abimelech and his household and God answered on the spot (Gen.20.17). God responded mightily when Lot, Abraham’s nephew, was taken hostage by some kings (Gen.14). It was death in Abraham (dying to self and ego) but LIFE for others.
I’m amazed to see miracles happening when I and my wife pray for other people, even on the spot healings and signs and wonders the moment we place our hands on people and declare things in Jesus’ Name. But when it comes to praying for our own situation, it takes us months, even years. I guess this is where praying for one another comes in.
To share LIFE with others you first have to die to self. Only Jesus can share LIFE with others, so He has to live and manifest in you. This can only happen once you’re taken out of the way. And to kill the ego it has to suffer humiliation—like life’s big jokes.
Well, sometimes, when you carry the cross, other people reject the LIFE they see. “To one we are the disgusting odor of death; to the other, the cologne of LIFE” (2 Cor.2.16). So they laugh at the big jokes they see in our lives with the Hagaric laughter that Hagar had. But fret not. The jokes are intended to make you LOL in God’s power.
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