I thought of O Brother Where Art Thou? today when in my Bible reading I came across this from Psalm 66:13-14:
13I will come into your house with burnt offerings; I will perform my vows to you,14that which my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
I have no doubt that God uses trouble to bring us to our proud knees. C.S. Lewis may be right in saying that, “Pain is God’s megaphone.” Remember when Everett (having mocked God and those who are so simple as to believe in Him the duration of the movie) finds himself on the verge of certain death? He cries out to a God he doesn't believe in a la The Script - "Breakeven." The moment trouble passes, Everett shamefully attempts to explain away his deep longings in an effort to hedge the fact that he no longer has any intentions of coming through on the promises made under duress.
I am thankful in retrospect for many of the trials and hardships I have endured in my short life here on earth knowing that they were not without His notice. Imagine how wild my proud heart would run if not for the setbacks and hitches in my (gulp!) perfect plans for myself.
However, when we are in trouble, we say a lot of things. When we hurt our hearts deceive us into pledging any and all to avoid further consequence or threat of suffering.
Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 4When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. 5 It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.
I wonder if I have ever made a promise under duress that I have failed to keep? This is a reminder to seek the forgiveness of God for that which we are unable to perform. For all my self-absorbed attempts to avoid pain and suffering and in those moments offering an even more boastful and cocky prediction of that which I may possibly not be able to perform. For all of this, forgiveness is available through Jesus Christ, our faithful Promise and Intercessor.
We cannot make good on all our promises. We hope to fulfill them and in Jesus we rely to grant us the grace to carry them out. Woe to us, however, if in continued rebellion we seek to make our word (and by reflection - His Word) nothing by deliberately failing to produce that which we have promised.