The Principles of Promise (and Another Test That Doesn’t Make Sense)

octomom with babies
Photo credit: MetDaan

In the Bible, a man named Elkanah had two wives: Hannah and Peninnah. The latter had baby after baby, but Hannah couldn’t get pregnant. Worse, the story says, “Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat.” Pastor Tony Evans would say God had deliberately caused a dilemma to show Hannah that God was her source, not Elkanah, but the following is actually a T.D. Jakes sermon about the principles of promise.

Principle #1: God Will Provoke You into Wanting More

Catering table full of appetizing foods“The reason I’m in this text is to cause you to catch a glimpse of how God operates — how God will bring you into a room, into an element, into a relationship, into a place, and let you see things to provoke you,” Jakes said. “… Provocation is aggravating. Provocation is irritating. Provocation is frustrating, because it makes me have to come face to face with where I am and that this is not enough. Provocation makes you hungry. Provocation makes you thirsty. Provocation makes you restless. Provocation makes you seek something beyond where you are. Provocation makes you discontented.

Paradise, California“Hannah would’ve been fine. … Elkanah was a wealthy man. … She was sitting on Lucky Street right across from Happy Boulevard. Everything was going fine. …  And Hannah was happy and satisfied and comfortable and contented and relaxed, but God didn’t want her to be comfortable and contented and satisfied and relaxed. … There was some condition in her body that would not allow her to conceive. God didn’t heal the condition. [Instead], he provoked [her and] there’s nothing as irritating as being provoked once you have decided, ‘Maybe this is not for me. Maybe I’m not supposed to have it. Maybe it’s not God’s will to be in my life. Maybe I’m supposed to be alone. Maybe I’m supposed to be by myself. Maybe I’m supposed to be down like this. Maybe I’ll never be happy.’

“See … flesh will talk you out of faith. It’ll talk you out of the uncomfortableness of believing God that your life does not have to be the way that it is. Even though you got used to it doesn’t mean it’s God’s will for your life.

“Elkanah had two wives. Hannah was good with it. … Her problem was that Peninnah took the same man that Hannah had and did more with him. If Peninnah hadn’t done more with him, Hannah could’ve told herself … ‘Maybe I don’t have any children because of Elkanah.’ But … Peninnah started having baby after baby after baby after baby … [N}ow she’s upset.”

Principle #2: God Will Provoke You into Turning to Him for Help

hannah went to god for help

“[S]he’s in [the church] praying and crying out to God, and when the priest comes in, he looks at her, and he misunderstands what she’s doing, and he calls her a drunk woman. … She must’ve been staggering,” Jakes said. “She must’ve been stumbling around a little bit. … When you want something bad enough [you’ll] stop worrying about your image and stop worrying about what you look like and stop worrying about what people think about you …” …

Principle #3: God Can’t Fill Hands That Are Full

“[S]he said … ‘I know I might be actin’ like a heathen, but I’m not.’ She says, ‘I’m a woman of a sorrowful spirit. I’ve gotta get this out of me so I can receive what God has for me.’ … God can’t give you what you’re askin’ for if you’re gonna still be filled with anger and hostility and unforgiveness and pride and jealousy and envy and strife. We need a good purgin’ in this house. We need a good cleanin’ out in this house. We need a good release in this house. … 

let it go“You see, this is … why we don’t get things from God: ’cause you can’t fill what’s already filled. … There’s gotta be an emptyin’ out. … I almost called the message ‘First Things First’ … because God says, ‘I can’t give you what you’re asking for until you release all of that bitterness and all of that anger and all of that hostility and all of that pride and all of that unforgiveness. I’ve gotta get it out of you. First things first.’ …

“[Y]ou’ve been wonderin’ why it’s been so long, and you’ve been prayin’ so long, and you’ve been askin’ so long, and you’ve been waitin’ so long, and you’ve been sayin’, ‘When are you gonna do it?’ God is sayin’ the same thing to you that you’re sayin’ to him. He said, ‘I’ve been waitin’ so long. I’ve been expectin’ so long. I’ve been lookin’ at you so long. When are you gonna do it? ‘Cause I can’t do what you want until you do what I want. Dump that out of you.'”

Principle #4: The Man of God Will Give You a Word

the man of god will give you a word

“Eli spoke to her and he says … ‘Be it unto you as you have said.’ It’s going to happen.

“Now, what gets me about this girl who has been screamin’ and hollerin’ and cryin’ and yellin’ and shakin’ her hair down and makin’ all kinds of noise and actin’ like a heathen [is] when she got a word … she got up. Oh my, all I need is a word from God. … I don’t need a pregnancy test. I don’t need my cycles to stop. I don’t need any outer sign of a breakthrough. All I need is a word.

dust yourself off and try again“A promise is built on his word. A word is built on integrity. In spite of all of her issues, she knew that if God said, ‘It’s gonna happen,’ it’s gonna happen. It seals the deal. … She didn’t even get it from God. She got it from God’s servant, but it was still God’s word, and it changed her countenance. She didn’t even look like the same woman.” …

Principle #5: God Can Do Whatever Needs to Be Done to Bring His Promise to Pass

god doesn't need help bringing his promise to pass

“God will move men to set up his promise in your life,” Jakes said. “He won’t do it without them. He will do it through them. … He’ll make people like you. … He will make people choose you. He will make people want you. He will make people pick you. … You might not think that was God that made Elkanah know her, but, yes, it was. … I want you to understand that the heart of the king is in the hand of God, that your boss is in his hands, that your neighbors are in his hands, that the judge is in his hands, that the courtroom is in his hands. I want you to know that when God gets ready to bless you, he will give people a different attitude about you, open doors you couldn’t see, make ways you couldn’t imagine. I don’t care how many other people put in an application. When God gets ready, he’ll bring yours to the top. … I’ve seen him bless me through people I knew didn’t like me. I’ve seen him make my enemies my footstool. …

“And the Bible said … while Elkanah was in the process of ‘knowing’ her, God remembered her. … Elkanah’s doin’ the knowin’, but God is doin’ the rememberin’. If Elkanah doesn’t do his part, it won’t happen, but let’s face it: Elkanah had done his part before and it didn’t work.” …

Principle #6: God Will Test Your Faithfulness with a Test That Doesn’t Make Sense

god will test your faithfulness

“This is where it gets interesting,” Jakes said. “She has now had her baby. She’s got the promise. I thought the real test of faith is when you don’t have it and you have to believe it anyway, but that’s not the real test of faith. The real test of faith is when you’ve finally got it and you’ve got to give it up. After goin’ through all the hell you went through to finally get the breakthrough, and you’re holdin’ the baby in your arms, and now she has to give it up. …

“[S]he has had this child for two years. That’s a long time to have a child. That’s a lot of bonding between her and the child. But, you see, the deal between her and God was this: she told God, ‘If you give it to me, I’ll give him back to you.’

“See, we’re always sayin’ stuff to God, but we don’t keep our end of the bargain. ‘Lord, if you just give me this job.’ ‘Lord, if I just get a second chance.’ ‘Lord, if you get me out of this.’ ‘Lord, if you bring me out of this, I’ll serve you.’ And after God gets you out, you don’t keep your end of the bargain. …

octomom
Photo credit: In Touch Weekly

“And she goes back home to the house without Samuel, and there Peninnah is, still runnin’ around the house with her children. And Hannah has finally got a child, but he’s gone. And she’s right back in the same situation she was before. And I asked God, I said, ‘God, I don’t see the point. Why would you take her through all of that? … She is a mother, but she’s not. She’s right back in the situation she was in before.’ And he said, ‘You don’t see it.’ I said, ‘What?’ He said, ‘It wasn’t ever about Samuel. It was never about Samuel. It was about opening up her womb. And her bringing Samuel to me was first thing’s first. It was first fruits.’ And God said, ‘If you seek ye first the kingdom of God and all of its righteousness, you will never out-give me.’ He said, ‘You’re cryin’ ’cause she gave me one, but I gave her back five. … [Y]ou see Samuel as the child, but he wasn’t the child. He was the test.’

“Sometimes God blesses you to test you, to see if you’ll take the blessin’ and walk away or whether you’ll come back and bring it back to him. … There’s something about comin’ back to God. … I thought when my lights [were] off, I was bein’ tested. When they laid me off my job, I thought I was bein’ tested. When I had to go up my mama’s house to get water, I thought I was bein’ tested. When I only had one suit and they called me One-Suit Jakes, I thought I was bein’ tested. When Serita was washin’ my suits ’cause we couldn’t [afford to take them to the dry] cleaners, I thought I was being tested. When I raised my first kids on WIC, I thought I was being tested. But the real test is never what you don’t have. The real test is, when God opens the door, when he opens the blessing, when he makes a way, when he brings you out, how do you remember God?

“See, the other part wasn’t a test because I couldn’t do nothin’ about it anyway. It was somethin’ I had to go through. But my faith isn’t proven on what is forced on me. My faith is proven when I have a choice. See … the real climax of the story was not that God remembered Hannah. It was that Hannah remembered God. … And God says, ‘This is the principle of promise: I will bless people I can trust.'”

5 thoughts on “The Principles of Promise (and Another Test That Doesn’t Make Sense)

  1. He made me free.
    This was me:
    “God says, ‘I can’t give you what you’re asking for until you release all of that bitterness and all of that anger and all of that hostility and all of that pride and all of that unforgiveness. I’ve gotta get it out of you. First things first.’ …
    “[Y]ou’ve been wonderin’ why it’s been so long, and you’ve been prayin’ so long, and you’ve been askin’ so long, and you’ve been waitin’ so long, and you’ve been sayin’, ‘When are you gonna do it?’ God is sayin’ the same thing to you that you’re sayin’ to him. He said, ‘I’ve been waitin’ so long. I’ve been expectin’ so long. I’ve been lookin’ at you so long. When are you gonna do it? ‘Cause I can’t do what you want until you do what I want. Dump that out of you.’”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep. During a recent sermon, T.D. Jakes said that’s why God blessed Joseph instead of his brothers. He knew Joseph would forgive his brothers despite everything they’d done to him. His brothers, on the other hand, would’ve gotten revenge.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s