By Maria Fontaine
October 4, 2022
I find great comfort and inspiration in a beautiful poem by Annie Johnson Flint written in 1919 entitled “What God Hath Promised.” Before reading the poem, I thought it would be helpful to reflect a bit on her life story.
Early in Annie’s life, arthritis began to show itself. She saw several doctors, but it steadily grew worse until it became difficult for her to walk at all. She was obliged to give up her work as a teacher.
Picture, if you can, the hopelessness of Annie’s position when later she finally received the verdict of the doctors of the Clifton Springs Sanitarium that henceforth she would be a helpless invalid.
Although crippled, she did not consider herself helpless and that she could do nothing but bemoan her lot. She believed that God had laid her aside for a purpose, even though that purpose was obscure to her at times. She also believed that He had work for her to do, and she put her very best into the writing of her poems, rendering this ministry unto Him.
The result has been that her verses have an unusually deep appeal to human hearts. Out of the crucible of suffering, she was able to administer that comfort to others wherewith she herself had been comforted of God.
For more than 40 years there was scarcely a day when she did not suffer pain. For 37 years she became increasingly helpless. Her joints had become rigid, although she was able to turn her head, and in great pain write a few lines on paper.
No one but God and she knew what suffering she endured as the disease became worse with the passing of years and new complications developed. But through it all, her faith in the goodness and mercy of God never wavered. There were many times, no doubt, when her soul would be burdened with the mystery of it all and why she was called to endure such suffering. In that respect she was human like the rest of us, but the marvelous thing is that her faith never faltered, and that she was at all times able to say, “Thy will be done.”—Rowland V. Bingham1
What God Hath Promised
God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
many a burden, many a care.
God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain rocky and steep,
Never a river turbid and deep.
But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.
We know that God has promised to keep us and that in keeping His promise there is nothing too hard for Him.
Jesus doesn’t necessarily take all our troubles away. In fact, He often doesn’t. Instead, in His love, He always sees the beauty to be brought from the ashes, the wisdom to be brought from the failure, the strength to be gained from the weakness, and the joy that the sorrows of the night seasons will bring in the morning.
He walks through our troubles and struggles with us, helping us to gain the good things that His absolute power and love can bring out of even the worst hardships and suffering. He said, “With men, it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27).
His promises come to life in the hard times. In times of struggle or suffering or grief, His promises become more clearly the foundation of our prayers.
Something that stands out to me throughout the Bible is the importance of giving thanks. Jesus can bring the greatest good from any situation for His children. Praise is the voice of faith, and when we express our faith by praising and thanking Him, it expresses our trust in Him that we will receive the answer to our prayers that He knows is best.
I’d like to share a few of the verses on God’s power in times of trouble that Peter and I often claim for others and ourselves in our prayer times. Perhaps this will be a starting point for you to add more of your own favorite verses that speak to your heart in a special way. Even when we can’t remember the entire verse, we can claim a key phrase from it.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.—Philippians 4:6–7
Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.—Psalm 55:22
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”—Jeremiah 29:11
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”—Hebrews 13:5
“Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.”—Isaiah 65:24
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.—Isaiah 26:3
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”—Isaiah 41:10
The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.—1 John 4:4
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.—Romans 8:38–39
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.—1 John 5:14–15
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.—Hebrews 4:16
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.—1 Peter 5:7
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.—Joshua 1:9
“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.—Isaiah 54:10
Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.—Psalm 119:165
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.”—Isaiah 43:2
Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.—Jeremiah 32:17
“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?”—Jeremiah 32:27
For nothing will be impossible with God.—Luke 1:37
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”—Mark 10:27
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.—Philippians 4:13
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.—Philippians 4:19
God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?—Numbers 23:19
And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.—Romans 8:28
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”—John 16:33
“Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”—John 16:24
In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.—Romans 8:37
You need to persevere, so that after you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.—Hebrews 10:36
The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.—Exodus 14:14
The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.—2 Thessalonians 3:3
Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way.—2 Thessalonians 3:16
“Do not be afraid,” Elisha answered, “for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw that the hills were full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.—2 Kings 6:16–17
“Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me. Yet not My will, but Yours be done.”—Luke 22:42