In Always True, James MacDonald writes of how the Christian can have faith in God even in the most trying of difficulties. He encourages the believer to “hang on” to God’s promises, showing how God always keeps his promises. Each chapter is packed with Scripture verses, made even more noticeable in bolded font. You can’t go two pages without your eyes being drawn to the bolded verse. MacDonald uncovers five different promises of God that are “always true:”
1. God is always with me (I will not fear)
2. God is always in control (I will not doubt)
3. God is always good (I will not despair)
4. God is always watching (I will not falter)
5. God is always victorious (I will not fail)
“God is always watching” – this promise was especially insightful. Usually when we talk about God watching us, it’s in the context of making sure we are behaving. But as MacDonald points out, God watches us because we are precious in his sight, similar to how parents lovingly watch their children. And we are watched and loved not because we are valuable but because we are valued.
In his introduction, MacDonald pinpoints the struggle in the Christian walk – that of “holding on” while waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promises. He says “Today I believe; tomorrow (or at some point in the future) I receive. The distance between today and tomorrow is called walking by faith. The hard part is in the waiting between the promise and the answer.” (p.20)
Preceding each promise chapter is a chapter on the “Theology of a Promise” that focuses on God’s nature as it relates to His promises. These are heavier on the theological side, but no less important. It gives us a glimpse into the nature of God and why it is we can trust in his promises. The last Theology of a Promise was the best. In it, MacDonald shares how all of God’s promises are experienced in Jesus Christ. “God has made no provision for you to live the Christian life on your own. The Christian life is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27)….Jesus Christ is the Christian life. It’s not me acting like Jesus….It’s not you trying to please the Lord, or to thank Him, or impress Him, or even trying to imitate Him. The core of this truth is: It’s Christ in me by His Spirit.” (pp.130-131)
The only minor drawback I might have with this book is that it doesn’t seem to be written to those currently suffering some trial. While the theological truths are certainly there, I did not get a sense of compassion, a sense of “weeping with those who weep.” The book came across as heavy on the theology of the promises of God but light on empathy. I’m not sure I would give it to someone who, for example, had just lost a child.
That being said, MacDonald does an excellent job of pointing out how God’s very nature is one of promising and fulfilling those promises. When all else fails, God’s promises are indeed Always True.
(Thanks to Moody Publishers for providing a review copy of this book)