Do You Trust God?
We all remember the story of Abraham and Sarah waiting so many years for the male child that God had promised them. This was the only child who could fulfil the promises God had made to them on multiple occasions. (That promise to Abraham and Sarah was made to you and me too. The promise was not only for their progeny as the sands of the seashore but for a Deliverer. That Deliverer is as important to me thousands of years later as it was to Abraham and Sarah at the time.) And then, many years after Isaac’s birth, in some mysterious twist in the storyline, God asks Abraham to take the boy up on the mountain and put him to death, to offer him as a sacrifice back to the One who had given him. Isaac’s death would cause God’s promise to Abraham and to me to be broken. There would be no progeny, there would be no Deliverer.
At first glance, it is difficult to imagine what was going through Abraham’s mind as he, Isaac, and a servant made the three-day trek to the mountain. Did Abraham sleep at all on that journey? Was he moody and sharp-tongued when Isaac asked him the question every child is obligated to ask, “How much farther Daddy?” And “Are we there yet?” Was Abraham angry? Despondent? Depressed?
How could God cause Abraham and Sarah to go through yet another time of testing? What possibly could be the purpose? God knew before the foundations of the earth were laid how they both would respond—and yet the instruction to go to the mountain was given.
Abraham did not know how he would respond. He did not know how he would answer Isaac’s questions or protestations as they neared the mountain. He did not know that God would supply a ram at the last second. And yet he went on towards the mountain, step after agonizing trusting step. He walked on because he knew one thing—that God would keep His promise.
By the time Abraham got to Mt. Moriah, he had God’s plan figured out. Abraham would place Isaac on the altar that he had built, he would build a fire with the wood he had brought and then Abraham would raise his knife and slay (sacrifice) Isaac as God had commanded. He would take the life of his own son. According to the book of Hebrews, Abraham also knew that God would keep His promise of a grand heritage by raising Isaac from the dead.
Abraham was willing to do his part in taking his son’s life by being a servant in God’s plan, a plan which made no earthly sense.
- God is faithful
- God keeps His promises, all of them.
- That obedience is the key. He had tried to help God out of a previous predicament by having a son with Hagar. He knew obedience to God was his part—and God would take care of His part.
When I was a teenager working with grown men and when they were asked to do some job that made no sense to them, their favorite saying was, “Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do or die.” I thought it was just another one of those sayings that they used. I came to find out that it was from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem, the Charge of the Light Brigade. Those words could have been written about Abraham.
Our trials come in those times when we lose sight of God’s plan for our life, or at least what we think His plan should be. We may not know what God is doing but that does not mean that we do not know God. And if we know Him, we know He always keeps His promises. We know that He will provide. And we know that our part of the plan is obedience in faithfulness.
Whether it is Abraham at Mt. Moriah, Joseph in Potiphar’s prison, Moses before Pharaoh, Esther before Ahasuerus or Jesus praying in the Garden, or Paul in prison, the Father keeps His promises. He does not keep the promises we make on His behalf as the health and wealth teachers would have us believe. But He always keeps the promises that He makes.
A pastor-friend was facing a serious operation which became another operation to correct the first and many months of rest and visits to doctors downstate and the lengthy process of healing. His prayer, as he was on this way to surgery was, “Lord, I don’t want to waste this.”
What followed was a series of “opportunities” to witness to many in hospital rooms as he lay surrounded by medical resources that were doing the earthly part of keeping him alive. He met people in hospitals in cities other than his own. Without his physical trials he probably would never have met any of them. He could tell them about Jesus. He could show them Jesus’ love. He, the one in physical need, could give comfort to those with spiritual needs.
Couldn’t the creative God come up with some other way for my pastor friend to meet and speak to these people? Perhaps, but He chose this way—the way of pain, and surgery, and tests, and surgery, and medical machinery, and hospital food, and letting someone else mow his perfect lawn. Months of recuperation and being less physically capable than he wanted was the path God chose for him. And because God’s ways are infinitely higher than ours, we know that it was the best path. (We usually know the difficult path is the best until we are the one walking it.)
That stretch of time was not an interlude or interruption in God’s purpose for His life—it was God’s purpose for his life at that time. The lessons learned, the ministry given, the re-examination of priorities, the acceptance of not being in charge of how days are ordered became the testimony of God’s faithfulness even when the path takes an unexpected, unwanted, turn. All of this combines to give immense value to the days when God is allowed to be God, and we are reminded that we are not.
Why does God:
Choose the weak to confound the strong? God almost always chooses to work through our weakness because in our strength we offer Him no place to work.
Use the thorn as the way to strength and to God’s glory? And why do we continually need to be reminded of that?
Allow any of us to have any strength at all when we almost always use it for our glory rather than His?
Test His children? It is not so God will know the depth of our character and the focus of our life—it is so we will know. And in knowing, we are called to yield more and more of our self to Him.
The question for us then is, are we the Abraham who decides that God needs Hagar’s help? Or are we the Abraham who believed that God would work any miracle necessary to fulfil His promise to the child He loves? Are we the Abraham who doubts? Or the Abraham who trusts?
Are we the one who gets bitter when life does not go the way we want? Or are we the one who prays on their way to surgery, “Lord, I don’t want to waste this”?
I have great admiration for some of my heroes of the faith, who have faced the most difficult of paths, and have decided to walk that path while trusting in the One who NEVER fails to keep His promises to His children. They are like Abraham on the way to Mt. Moriah, they do not know the answers to all the questions, but they know the One who is walking with them. And He is Enough.