From a young age, Douglas MacArthur was an achiever with a distinct ability to lead. In his mid–40s, he became the youngest major general in the U.S. Army and later achieved the rare rank of five-star general.
His tactical prowess and bravery during World War I made him a star. After a brief retirement, he was called back to active duty in 1941 as World War II escalated. President Roosevelt appointed him commander of U.S. Army Forces in the Far East, headquartered in the Philippines.
Unable to halt the Japanese invasion and occupation of the Philippines, MacArthur and a small group escaped in the middle of the night, safely arriving in Australia days later. He gave a speech upon arrival and uttered his most famous words, “… I shall return.” He audaciously and boldly proclaimed on the world stage that he would return to the Philippines and liberate its people.
For two and a half years he worked to fulfill his promise, even declining to run for President until he had kept his word. In the fall of 1944, he triumphantly waded ashore on the island of Leyte and, via a radio broadcast, let the Filipino people know, “…I have returned.” General MacArthur accepted Japan’s formal surrender less than a year later, ending the war.
General MacArthur’s astounding promise to the Filipino people has been celebrated and admired for nearly 80 years. The mention of his name among military leadership circles elicits deep respect. Say his name among elderly Filipinos, and you will get nods and smiles all around.
As amazing as this moment in history is, it pales in comparison to the promises God makes to his children. A thousand generals’ promises are like chaff on the threshing floor when compared to the word of the Lord. Consider how truly astonishing it is that God who created the universe makes and keeps promises to us. The Almighty values his children to such a degree that he engages us in daily — as well as eternal — promises.
Thousands of years ago, he promised never to flood the Earth again and set the rainbow as a symbol of that promise. Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, Old Testament prophets proclaimed the promise that he was coming. Christ’s brutal death on the cross fulfilled the promise to give us the way to eternal life with him. He promised his disciples and all future believers the gift of the Holy Spirit and power from on high.
Every single day of a believer’s life is coated in God’s promises. The book of Exodus says the Lord will fight for us. (Exodus 14:14) Deuteronomy affirms the Lord goes before us and continues to be with us. (Deuteronomy 31:8) We will never be alone or forsaken. Isaiah tells us he gives strength to the weary and empowers the weak. (Isaiah 40: 29) He will uphold us. John declares if the Son has set us free then we are free indeed. (John 8:26) Paul writes in Romans of how God will work all things for our good and his glory. (Romans 8:28) God’s love is all-consuming, unwavering and unbreakable. Philippians speaks of God’s promise to meet our needs. (Philippians 4:19) First John tells of his promise to forgive our sins when we confess. (1 John 1:9) The book of James tells us God will generously give his wisdom to believers who ask. (James 1:5) Revelation declares the promise of eternal salvation. (Revelation 3:5)
How should we respond to the treasure of God’s promises? Make them real to ourselves, then live them out. How do we do that? We learn about them by reading God’s word and asking the Father to cultivate in us living examples of what he promised. If you are not certain where to start, examine the verses mentioned above. We will not experience, endure, enjoy or embody anything that is not covered by God’s promises. What a privilege we have in Jesus to be recipients of his promises.