June 9, 2018

You Can’t Promise Anything!

By: Hope Harle-Mould [Buffalo, NY]

A young boy had suffered from many health problems.

Now doctors were saying that he had a life-threatening illness and that the odds were not good. Angry and bitter, he started to cry, raging against the news.

His father tried to comfort him: “Son, I believe God will give you all the strength and courage you need.”

The boy replied, “What kind of God would make kids suffer like this?”

“I promise you,” his father said. “Somehow you will find a way through this.”

“You can’t promise anything!” the son shouted. Walking over to the wall where his dad had hung one of his colorful chalk drawings, he yanked it down, ripped it into shreds, and threw them on the floor.

The boy recovered fully. He grew to be a healthy young man, married a wonderful woman, and moved to another state, where he became successful in a job he loved. Then 20 years after his childhood illness, his wife moved out “for a while,” and he lost his job. Full of anguish, he phoned his dad.

After talking for a long time, his father said, “Son, I believe God will give you all the strength and courage you need.”

“Dad, I don’t know if I believe in God anymore.”

“I promise you,” his father said. “Somehow you will find a way through this.”

“You can’t promise anything!” the son shouted, slamming down the phone.

That very evening, the father packed his car and began the several-hundred-mile drive to his son’s house. When his doorbell rang early the next morning, the son opened the door. Bursting into tears, he fell into his father’s arms. “You shouldn’t have come, Dad. That’s a long drive with your bad back.”

“I had to come,” his father replied. “I had to show you something.” He took from his bag a picture frame. In it was the drawing his son had ripped up years ago. The tear marks were still there, but the paper was so well restored that from a distance only the artwork was visible.

“Oh my goodness! I never thought . . . ,” the son gasped. “Dad, how is this possible? I can’t believe you kept this all these years.”

The father replied, “Two decades ago you said I couldn’t promise anything—and you were right. But God could. God made a promise to you and kept it. Even when you didn’t believe it, God was present and at work in your life. Now you’re going through another difficult time, and God will make a new promise to you. Somehow God will bring you through this.”

The son gazed at the picture for a long time. “I want to believe that, Dad, but . . . Is it OK if I keep this picture for a while?”

“Yes, but only until God walks with you through this valley. Then I get it back. Deal?”

“It’s a deal, Dad.”

“Promise you won’t tear it up again?”

“I promise.”

Hope Harle-Mould, a minister in Buffalo, New York, has three adopted children, three grandchildren, and a white dove named Gracie. His first name began as a nickname at church camp and is now his spiritual and legal name.

JUNE 10, 2018


When have you been bitter and angry enough to turn your back on God? Who was there for you—offering strength and comfort, reminding you that God was with you no matter what? Make time this week to write a letter acknowledging that gift and giving thanks for that person’s presence in your life. Then thank God for keeping promises.

Keep A Journal

Each day, write down the good things people have done for you or said to you. Read through these pages often so that you never forget the kindness of others.


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