Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community, and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the Coronavirus. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
“Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” (Genesis 15:5b)
Great faith is so precious. Why? it can overcome anything. The Bible tells
“The world was not worthy of them [i.e., those who had great faith]” (Hebrews 11:38a)
Nobody throws a pearl to pigs. Again the Bible tells
Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you. (Matthew 7:6b)
Instead, we keep our precious pearl in a safe place. And if we come across such a precious pearl, we do everything to acquire the pearl. The Bible also tells:
When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it! (Matthew 13:46)
Great faith is like the pearl of great value, which is truly worthy of giving up everything that we have.
Abraham left his native country and all of his relatives in faith. His wife Sarah and his cousin Lot are the only people who left with Abraham. Abraham met God who gave the solemn promise of God. Abraham believed God promise. He treasured the promise in his heart. God saw his faith and was greatly pleased. God blessed Abraham and protected him wherever he went.
Abraham faithfully built an altar to God wherever he went and worshipped God by calling His name. He gave up everything that he had to follow God. At that time, his relatives were the only safety net that a person can rely on when a person became old and no longer could not work. Abraham traded the earthly assurance with God’s promise although he could not see and touch the promise because he treasured God’s promise more than anything on earth. How great Abraham’s faith was!
Faith is not a thing like a desk or a chair that we purchase and own, but it is a living thing, which borns, grows, and fully matures like a seed or a human baby. The great faith of Abraham was also born by the power of God, grew, and got mature as he went his life journey with God. Thus, there was up and down. Sometimes his faith became weak. Then, our Heavenly Father, God gave additional attention and heart to Abraham as he struggled under the pressure of mounting doubts. Likewise, God takes care of our faith because God loves us dearly. When our faith is shaken and a dark cloud of doubt surrounds us, our Heavenly Father gives us extra care and love so that we can again stand firm on the rock of faith and walk again with Him by fixing our eyes on Him. This is what God always does to His children because He is our Ever-Loving Father.
Let’s go back to Abraham. When Abraham left his native country and his relatives, he was seventy-five years old. His wife was barren. Even so, Abraham held tight to the promise of God. The great faith of Abraham was born.
“Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1b-3)
When Abraham received God’s promise of making him into a great nation, Abraham had a barren wife. Abraham was seventy-five years old, and he and his wife were getting old every day without a child. If we were Abraham, could we believe God’s promise? All facts were against Abraham, but Abraham believed. God saw rare faith in Abraham, and it was a genuine treasure of a precious pearl to God!
However, the world did not leave Abraham alone and bombard Abraham with trial after trial. Ironically, it was a part of God’s plan to nurture and mature Abraham’s faith. The first real trial was a great famine, which came to the promised land where Abraham faithfully lived. As a result, his great faith collided with the great famine. Who did win? Sad to say, the great famine won. Abraham left the promised land for food in Egypt.
In Egypt, Abraham found food, but a bigger trial was waiting for Abraham. In Egypt, a great fear came to Abraham from losing his faith due to his wife, Sarah, who was an exceptionally beautiful woman. Abraham thought that some Egyptians would kill him and take away his wife from him. To protect his life, he spread a lie that his wife was his sister. This lie surely worked. He was saved, but his wife was taken from him and given to Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Abraham lost the most precious in his life – Sarah, his wife helplessly before the king. Abraham painfully learned an important lesson. His cunning lie worked as he planned, but he lost his wife. He did not know what came next.
This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength. (1 Corinthians 1:25)
Indeed, God let this happen so that Abraham could experience the consequence of his cunning lie. God allowed Abraham to suffer and waited till Abraham came back to Him. Abraham had no place to go except God, and Abraham returned to God. God pleased with Abraham, and God intervened Pharaoh for Abraham. God sent terrible plagues upon Pharaoh and his household, and God made Pharaoh return Sarah to Abraham. However, in the process, Abraham suffered from Pharaoh’s sharp criticism. At that time, Pharaoh had absolute power in Egypt as a king. Pharaoh could have killed Abraham out of his anger against him who deceived Pharaoh. Thus, Pharaoh’s sharp criticism put Abraham in fear of getting executed. The scary situation provided a great lesson to Abraham. However, due to God’s mercy and love, Abraham safely returned to the promised land with Sarah, Lot, and all his belongings
God was always faithful to Abraham. God promised blessings on Abraham, and God delivered under all circumstances. Indeed, Abraha became much richer than before when he went down to Egypt. How did this happen? God made Abraham richer using the wealth of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. God faithfully kept His promise whether Abraham was faithful to God or not. This is an amazing truth of God. This truth does not match with the earthly value system. This is the reason why unbelievers cannot understand our faith, but our faith gives 100% assurance in Him. God is our Ever-Loving Father, and His love toward us, His beloved children never changes. Surely, sometimes we might be astray by being unfaithful to Him, but God’s love never changes. God never gives up on us. God is always faithful and loves us unconditionally.
After returning from Egypt, Abraham settled down in the promised land. However, soon another trial came to him. Lot, his cousin decided to leave him due to the increasing conflicts between his servants and the servants of Abraham. Lot felt that the root cause of the conflicts was the land that was too small to have both servants coexist peacefully.
Yes, this is one way to resolve the issue by blaming external factors. The conflicts could have been resolved between two masters – Abraham and Lot by loving, caring for, and accepting each other and demonstrating to both servants. However, Lot refused to work out with Abraham with love and patience. Instead, Lot reached a quick and easy solution of leaving Abraham, although it would give a huge toll on both lives of Abraham and himself. Abraham suddenly faced with this daunting challenge, but for this time, Abraham could be calm before God and won the trial in faith using God’s wisdom and faithful love toward his cousin. Abraham blessed Lot who was leaving him, and Abraham provided the best to him. Yes, Abraham made a small but gigantic step in faith. God was truly pleased with Abraham.
God also loved Lot because Lot was also His child, and God did not leave Lot alone. By leaving Abraham, Lot thought that he got everything that he wanted, but Lot did not know what’s coming next. Soon there was a war in the seemingly peaceful and beautiful land, and he was taken by the conqueror. As soon s Abraham heard this, Abraham called up his people to rescue Lot. Abraham learned from God about His unconditional faithfulness. Now, Abraham showed the same unconditional faithfulness to Lot. Abraham fought against the most powerful king and his formidable armies. It was an impossible battle, but with the help of God, he could rescue his cousin Lot and the family. This is another victory of Abraham in faith. God was greatly pleased with Abraham. When returning, Abraham met Melchizedek, the king of Salem and a priest of God Most High, who was sent by God and gave blessings to Abraham.
Then there was peace in Abraham’s life, but he had no child.
God came and spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him,
“Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.” (Genesis 15:1b)
As time ticking, he was getting old, and he had no child because his wife was barren. Abraham was getting nervous. He gave lots of thoughts as he fought against the impossibility of being a great nation without his child. Slowly but steadily, the earthly thought sneaked into his heart, and he was drifting away from the strong faith that Abraham had.
Abraham could not figure out how he would be the father of a great nation without a child of his. For many years, he struggled. It was so obvious that he could not be the father of a great nation. Then Abraham asked himself again and again, “Is there any way to make God’s promise be fulfilled?” After giving a series of careful thoughts, and he got a light bulb, “Ah! I understand. God will use my servant born in the household instead of my child from Sarah, my barren wife.” Then he could quickly one servant, whose name was Eliezer, whose name meant “Help of God.” The name convinced him more. Abraham was so happy to find this, and he made up his mind to give his inheritance to Eliezer. Abraham found the last missing link of God’s promise – not having a son to give his inheritance. Abraham, then, became comforted. He felt that he finally understood what God’s promise meant.
How many times have we had the same struggle as Abraham and were comforted when we figured out how God would do for us without carefully thinking that it came from our own earthly wisdom, not from God? Abraham and we are all same in this regard. Both do not trust God 100%. Like Abraham, we easily get into a trap by making our unceasing effort to figure out what God would rationally do rather than believing God’s promise although it is impossible for our eyes.
Before God, Abram put shared his decision, which was reached by deep thoughts in many sleepless nights and struggles to rationalize God’s impossible promise with his worldly wisdom, He was so comfortable about his conclusion even before God because his decision was so logical and perfectly matched with God’s promise. Abraham responded to God,
“O Sovereign LORD, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir.” (Genesis 15:2b-3)
However, God immediately rejected and replied,
“No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” (Genesis 15:4b)
God exactly knew Abraham’s heart and his struggle to rationalize God’s impossible promise. Indeed, this was the reason why God came to Abraham. Abraham was drifting away from his faith, but Abraham did not know. If the situation continued, it could have given grave harm to Abraham. God, who was so faithful and so much loving, could not let Abraham alone. God came to stop Abraham from drifting further away from his faith. How caring our God was to Abraham!
This is the reason why we can trust our God all the more. When we are in doubt and drifting away from our faith, God does not let us alone. God comes to us as God did to Abraham.
Then God took Abram outside, and softly and lovingly said to him,
“Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” (Genesis 15:5b)
It was a crystal clear night, and stars were sparkling as if each of them looked like a brand new highly polished diamond suspended in the air against the deep night sky backdrop. Abraham was struck with awe before the amazing scene that God displayed before his eyes. Abraham saw countlessly many night skies. However, that night was completely different. It was the night that was specially prepared for Abraham, who was struggling to rationalize his faith.
Abraham kept watching the sparkling stars. God was silent for a whole. Then God broke the silence by asking Abraham to count the sparkling stars one by one. Abraham started counting. Soon he was overwhelmed by the countless many stars. He stopped counting. Abraham was just speechless because he was experiencing far beyond what he could imagine ever.
As Abraham was motionless while watching the stars in the special night sky, God gently and lovingly told Abraham that your descendants would be as numerous as the stars as you saw on the sky that night. Abraham could not take off his eyes because he finally saw God’s promise. Abraham wanted to stand there forever while watching God’s promise being displayed before his eyes on the vast night sky. Until that moment Abraham only heard, but he saw God’s promise.
Abraham bowed down his head and worshipped God. Abraham looked back at what he did. He could see his stupidity of trying to rationalize God’s promise by his own effort, not by God Himself. Then Abraham took off all of his doubts on God’s promise. His earthly solution making Eliezar his heir was no longer. Abraham believed God’s promise without any doubts and completely trusted God. God, then, counted Abraham as righteous.
And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith. (Genesis 15:6)
Like Abraham, we sometimes go astray driven by doubt on His promise. We have been waiting for His promise while fighting against doubt on His promise because His promise is impossible on earth. Then one day, a dark cloud of doubt is so thick and it starts obscuring the light from God. Then we lose our hope in God and start drifting. Yes, we are drifting from our faith in God because we are surrounded by the dark cloud of doubt. Like Abraham, then we rationalize our faith and interpret His promise with our earthly wisdom. Our faith is getting choked and slowly dying, but we don’t notice. We are paradoxically in joy because we have rationalized our faith in terms of our earthly wisdom. God, who dearly loves us, then does not let us alone as He did to Abraham.
Then what we should do? Do as Abraham did – bow down to God and trust Him while believing His promise, as God took us outside from the miserable jail of our doubts by His gentle and loving hand. Yes, we should not refuse Him. We quietly follow Him and hear what He tells in our hearts gently and lovingly. Then see God’s promise displayed in our hearts, which is so vividly and sparkingly displayed with the love that was demonstrated on the cross where our Savior died for us.
As Abraham bowed down before God, we also bowed down before God while looking at the loving eyes of Jesus Christ on the cross, who loved us till the end and became the first fruit for all being resurrected on the third day. Yes, that is the moment we know why and how we can overcome all challenges that we meet on earth. Praise God, who loves us always and unconditionally, and give thanks to God for giving us the brightest star of all, which cannot be dimmed out by any dark clouds of doubts although Satan secretly plants in our hearts. Yes, we have the brightest star in our hearts that shines lights on us always and unconditionally. Why? The light is Jesus in our hearts, and we are God’s most precious and beloved children.
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12)