When my son was very ill – the hospital had told us to prepare for the worst – God gave us a verse to rest on. It’s a famous one, well quoted, and often used out of context and an exegetists nightmare I know. But at the time I really wasn’t at all concerned about the finer details – I just knew God had spoken it to us, and we were holding on. Jeremiah 29:11 it was, (‘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.’) and the prayers went something like this:-
“God, you said you’ve got plans for my son. God, you said there’s hope. God, you said he’s got a future…” We just kept quoting it to God, reminding him of his promise to us. And God mercifully heard us. My son has used that illness over the years since to challenge and draw many young people to God.
Genesis 32:12 reminds me so clearly of those prayers. Jacob was under great pressure, and in real fear of his annihilation by his brother, whom he had grievously wronged all those years before. “But you have said, “I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.” If God had a promised Jacob a good future, then a good future he was going to have.
When we get into a really difficult situation we need to ask the question, “What is God saying about this?” If he hasn’t already given you one, ask him for a word you can stand on, then stand on it. If he’s said it, he’ll do it. I think the ‘reminding’ bit is just for our benefit – God won’t forget!