When considering the attributes of God, the idea that God is perfect in his promise-keeping is one of the most cherished. Latter-day Saints especially hold to this idea when it comes to covenants; through covenants, we fully consecrate our lives with the belief that we are offered eternal progression and opportunity through Jesus Christ.
However, life is rarely as simple or clear-cut as we want it to be. We desire and dream deeply. Our hope, an essential part of gospel living, can quickly turn into despair as we discover our will may not be God’s will. Even worse, we struggle when God has made promises to us and they seemingly go unfulfilled.
What do we do in these moments? If you feel like God’s promises are empty in your life, ponder on these five ideas.
Determine What You’ve Been Promised
God doesn’t make promises he won’t keep. However, we often make promises on his behalf out of desperation or longing. It is important to recognize what God has truly promised you and what “deals” we may have tried to make on our own. Go to God and ask for understanding about the revelations and promptings you’ve received. Study the covenants you’ve made and attend the temple often. Prayerfully review your patriarchal blessing on a regular basis. Though we may not always receive a clear answer about what events will unfold in your life or the timing God has in mind, we can find peace as we humbly seek to understand God’s will and nature.
Ask What You’re Supposed to Be Doing Instead
If we are striving to remain true to our faith, God will not let us be forever lost. In fact, we may not be lost at all. While there is no wrong in mourning the places we can’t seem to go and the things we can’t seem to achieve, God likely has a great purpose for the place you’re in. There is a chance you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. By accepting this, we can open our hearts and our minds to what great possibilities God could have in store. There are things to do, growth to experience, testimonies to share, and people to serve.
Ask God for the next step. If you didn’t get into the school you wanted, ask what good you can do in other places. If you’re single, ask what potential you are meant to reach alone. What goals are you to achieve? If you desperately long for children but are unable, ask for how God wants you to use your time. No matter where we are or what we’re going through, God can turn it into an exalting place. We can grow in even a “poor spot of ground.”
Look for Compensatory Blessings
Sometimes we are staring so hard at the door, waiting for it to open, that we miss the open window. God does not take joy out of denying us the desires of our hearts. He does not roll his eyes at our impatience or lack of understanding. When what we want most must be withheld from us or denied, he provides us with compensatory blessings. In other areas of our lives, he opens the windows of heaven. These blessings are not easy to see. Our personal life may feel miserable, but we may have great financial standing. If our financial standing is stressful, we may have rich and fulfilling relationships. Often, the blessings come in the growth of our own character.
It’s painful to pay attention to something else, to shift our gaze, and attune our attitude. But by looking for the way God is compensating for what we lack in our lives and cultivating gratitude, we can find joy and peace.
Work Towards It
There are times when God is simply waiting on us! We may want something so badly, but for some reason, we’re not doing anything to help us get there. An old saying tells us that God can’t guide us if we’re not walking. If we’re not working towards our goals and dreams, God won’t just plop them in our laps. If you’ve received a promise from God, don’t give up. Don’t stop working for your dreams. Pray to know how this work can be the most effective and Spirit-driven. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland once said, “God is eagerly waiting for the chance to answer your prayers and fulfill your dreams, just as He always has. But He can’t if you don’t pray, and He can’t if you don’t dream. In short, He can’t if you don’t believe.”
Submit Your Will to God
One of the greatest tasks of this life is to shake off the natural man and completely consecrate our lives to the will of God. Seek to humbly submit your life to God. This isn’t possible without Jesus Christ. Once we are able to place our future, which is truly eternal, into God’s hands, we will feel reassured; no matter what happens, if we make and keep covenants with God, we are promised eternal life. If there is any promise to hold to, it is that.