Every four years, the world holds its breath while America chooses a President. The decision, coming at the end of hard-fought campaigns, influences the destiny of history. Perhaps only those closest to the candidates understand the strain of the race. The pressures of running for President must be nearly as great as the stresses of office once elected.
When Woodrow Wilson was running for reelection in 1916, the world was in turmoil. World War I was raging in Europe, but most Americans wanted to maintain a policy of neutrality. Wilson’s opponent, former New York Governor and Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes, was a formidable challenger. Former Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft supported Hughes, and the election went down to the wire.
According to President Wilson’s Secret Service bodyguard, Edmund Starling, White House advisors were a bundle of nerves prior to the vote. Chief of Staff Joseph Patrick Tumulty was worried and morose as it became clear Wilson’s reelection was in trouble.
But Colonel Starling, in his memoir Starling of the White House, claimed the strain didn’t extend to Woodrow Wilson himself. “The President would have been worried too,” wrote Starling, “had he not been trained, as I was, in the Presbyterian doctrine of predestination. He was completely calm, having decided that he had done his best to fill the job and his future in it was in the hands of God.”1
In the end, Wilson was narrowly reelected.
The purpose of this article isn’t to debate the doctrine of predestination as such, but I can appreciate what Starling was saying. When we’ve been trained as Christians to believe that God is in control, that the Most High rules in the affairs of man, that the eternal God is guiding history toward its preappointed end, and that He has a personal plan for our lives, there’s little reason to fear. We can remain calm and confident. Even when events don’t go as we’d hoped, we defer to the sovereign oversight and absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ, who is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the One who was and is and is to come. He is the “faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth” (Revelation 1:5, 8). His name is “Faithful and True” (Revelation 19:11).
What do we mean by the term “faithful”? As we use the word in casual conversation, it has several shades of meaning. If we say someone is a faithful friend, we mean he’s loyal to those he loves. If we say he’s faithful in his dealings, we mean he’s as good as his word and keeps his promises. If we say he’s a faithful worker, we mean he’s hardworking and dependable over the long haul. But the overarching idea is that we can put full faith in one who is faithful.
In Deuteronomy 7:9, the Lord is called “the faithful God.” Psalm 36:5 says that His faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Psalm 37:3 tells us to “feed on His faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22–23 says, “His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”
God Is Always Faithful to His Promises
God is always faithful to His promises, and understanding this is the key to the life of faith that we long to experience. If you desire a stronger faith, then isolate a difficulty and find a promise in the Bible that speaks to that problem. As you look for verses to help in time of need, make sure to study each one in its context and apply it prayerfully. When we rest in God’s Word, we are abiding in Christ.
The emotional relief we feel is joyous. As we trust the Lord to be faithful to His promises, we experience an inner peace that crowds worry to the corners of our minds, and then out the door. Peter said that God is not slack concerning His promises, and he described those promises as “exceedingly great and precious,” enabling us to “be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 3:9 and 1:4).
When we realize that God is faithful to every promise He has made in the Bible—even the smallest ones tucked into obscure paragraphs of Scripture—it instantly revamps our perspective. We can become Abraham-like, following in the footsteps of the man who “did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform” (Romans 4:20–21).
God Is Always Faithful to His Plan
Likewise, God is always faithful to His plan. The books of Daniel and Revelation (among other passages in the Bible) lay out God’s plans for the ages. One of the joys of my ministry has been studying biblical prophecy and teaching the doctrine of the End Times. Prophecy and providence go hand in hand. Prophecy is the prediction of what God will do, and providence is His engineering of events to accomplish it. Providence is God’s guiding the course of global history as well as the affairs of the individual lives of His children.
He knows the plans He has for us; our steps are ordered by the Lord, and He leads us in an appointed way. When tragedies befall us, we can’t minimize or ignore them, but with the passing of time, we increasingly understand that “God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.”
When George Truett was thirty, he was named pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas. Some friends invited him to go hunting. The trip turned tragic when Truett accidentally fired his gun and killed the Dallas Chief of Police. Truett paced the floor for days in inconsolable grief, unable to eat or sleep, convinced he would never return to the pulpit. But Psalm 31 came forcibly to mind: “But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD… My times are in Your hand” (14–15). Finally, it was announced that Truett would return to the pulpit, and churches across Dallas canceled their services to join him as a sign of support. He made it through the service and remained pastor of the church for the rest of his life. During his tenure, church membership increased from seven hundred to seven thousand. The tragedy at the beginning of his ministry led to a helplessness of heart that enabled God to take over.
Our heartaches cannot be downplayed. They often cannot be understood. But God is bigger than our burdens, and He is always faithful to His providential plans for our days.
God Is Always Faithful to His People
God is always faithful to His people. How important it is to remember that truth! Even during a season of thanksgiving, we’re prone to worry. Fear is a built-in part of our emotional circuitry. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by world events or with personal circumstances. As we watch television newscasts or check the headlines on the Internet, we can feel our hearts racing. We’re worried about our children, our grandchildren, and their futures. We’re concerned about wars and rumors of war. We’re angry about the discrimination being lobbed against Christians around the world, and we’re heartsick at the rapid decline of moral and spiritual values.
But remember what Sheila Walsh says: “Life is tough, but God is faithful.”
My friend Charles Swindoll put it this way: “When trials come, remember that God is faithful. Contrary to what your circumstances may seem to tell you, God hasn’t abandoned you. Forget what the cynics tell you. God hasn’t forgotten you. God is faithful. We can trust that He’s working out His purposes for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28). When you doubt whether God has kept His promise never to desert you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5), remember that He’s the faithful Creator (1 Peter 4:19). This means He can never lie (Hebrews 6:18)…. Rest in Him…. Because He is faithful and powerful, we can entrust our entire life to Him.”3
This is the time of year our minds whipsaw from electioneering to thanksgiving, but come what may, don’t grow restless, troubled, or panicked. You’re under God’s providential care. Our God is faithful to His promises, His plans, and His people.
He is faithful to you. He always has been; He always will be.
1 Edmund Starling, Starling of the White House (Chicago: Peoples Book Club, dated as 1916), 75.
3 Charles R. Swindoll, Insights on James, 1 and 2 Peter (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010).
This article originally appeared in Turning Points Magazine and Devotional, a monthly publication and ministry of Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah. Request your complimentary subscription today!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~