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Promises made and promises broken

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT by Rev Andrew Barrie, minister of Pulteneytown and Thrumster Church

I recently had a few days away with my wife in Warwickshire. One of the things we planned to to do was visit Warwick Castle. However, I was nearly put off by the small print on a “promise” they make.

You see, a few weeks ago, while enjoying coffee and cake from the always excellent Annie’s Bakery, we were looking at what we might do while on our trip. We came across the website for the castle and noticed that they had a “rainy day promise”. Being aware of the British weather, the promise of a refund (and therefore a free trip) seemed promising – especially in November.

However, on further inspection, I realised that promise wasn’t what it seemed. There were many qualifiers. The rain had to be “persistent for more than one hour” and the refund wasn’t for that day but another day and only valid for six months. Fair enough, you would say. But then I realised there was an asterisk! When I scrolled down, I realised that there were only 17 days in 2021 which were “eligible rainy days”. What seemed like a promise quickly turned out not to be so generous after all!

This may seem small and trivial – and it is – but I think it speaks to an experience we all face and which causes us much pain in life: the promises that are made to us (and even the ones we make) are often left unfulfilled. There may be right intentions in the making of a promise, but so often ‘terms and conditions apply’.

We can find that promises that were supposed to bring security and comfort have limitations and we are let down. Broken promises are at the root of our deepest hurts and can shape our lives profoundly.

I don’t know what you know of God or the Bible but it has been my experience, and the experience of Christians across generations, that God keeps his promises. No qualms, no take-backs, no wriggling off the hook when it is costly.

We see this most in Jesus Christ, who himself endured pain at the cross to make all God’s promises “Yes”. By him, not only are God’s promises fulfilled, they are truly, freely offered to any of us, if we would receive him. He promised that "whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”

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