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.
And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith. (Genesis 15:6)
Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous. It is a truly amazing verse, which is also rare in the entire Bible. Why did God declare Abraham was righteous? The same verse answers that “because of his [Abraham’s] faith.” Yes, God counted Abraham as righteous due to his faith. This tells how much God loves to see one’s faith more than anything else.
Then don’t we want to know how much faith indeed Abraham had? One day, Abraham met God and followed God. He left his native country and all of his relatives without knowing where he went because he believed in God’s promise.
Here is the promise of God that Abraham received:
“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)
God asked Abraham to leave his native country, relatives, family, and to go to the land that God would show him. Yes, God did not show anything about the land through a vision, which was completely possible with God’s power, or through God’s voice describing what kind of the land would be — how good, how big, how fertile, how comfortable to live in, or how easy to protect against external threats either men or wild animals. None was given to Abraham. Then did God at least tell the location of the land? No. God did not talk about the location either.
God did not give anything except God’s promise that God would reveal later in God’s time. In other words, at that time, Abraham had not received anything tangible or concrete from God, but Abraham followed God. This is the essence of Abraham’s faith, which pleased God. Can we leave behind everything that we have and treasure in our hearts and venture out with God while believing in God’s promise?
What was promised by God? God promised to make Abraham a great nation, and all the families on earth would be blessed through Abraham. Yes, all the families on earth, not just Abraham’s family, but all the peoples on earth. God made this unbelievable promise. But Abraham believed that one single person, Abraham would become the source of all who lived on earth at that time and would live in the future. Does this promise logically make sense? Can one ordinary person living in one corner of the earth become the source of blessing for all the peoples on earth? Hmm. It is impossible by any human means.
If someone comes to us and makes such a promise, then we will immediately say, “You are out-of-mind.” We will immediately walk away from the person because every second spent with such a person would be a total waste of our precious time. However, God made the incredible promise, and Abraham 100% believed the promise. Surely, Abraham’s faith was so unique.
Then was the rest of Abraham’s life easy like sailing on a glass sea? No.
His life was full of unexpected, and ups and downs. Like us, Abraham also met life challenges, and sometimes he failed by falling from his faith. Isn’t it strange that Abraham with such a great faith also failed like us? Let’s go deeper into God by questioning the following two questions:
- Why did life challenges come to Abraham like us, although he was so faithful to God?
- Why did God let Abraham fail even though he had such commendable faith?
Again, Abraham separates from us by his faith, which far beyond most of us. For example, wherever he went, he built an altar and worshipped God by calling His Name. As he followed down to God’s guidance to the promised land, he was often in the middle of people who were not friendly or even hostile. What Abraham’s faithful act to God was at most strange to the people surrounding him or even offended them. Even so, Abraham gave what belonged to God — the highest honor and praise.
God, who is the creator of the universe, loves to hear from Abraham, and his praises proclaimed throughout the unfriendly and hostile lands. Abraham did exactly what God loved the most regardless of people liked it or not.
the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise. (Isaiah 43:21)
Then why did Abraham, dearly loved by God, confront life challenges? In other words, why did a bad thing happen to a person like Abraham who was so faithful to God and worshipped and praised God wherever he went?
For example, Abraham met a severe famine in the Promised Land where he settled as God directed. Yes, as God directed, Abraham settled down the promised land, which was chosen by God not Abraham. Then a severe famine came to Abraham. If we were Abraham, how would we respond to the severe famine that threatened the lives of us and all our family?
In fact, Abraham, our superstar in faith, did not prevail, but he failed. He could not continue to hold God’s promise by overcoming the severe famine in faith. Instead, he saw a severe famine that threatened him and his family. One who left the native land and relatives, which was the only and true social safety net, for the invisible promise of God failed. He could not continue seeing God’s intimately good hand behind the scene. Why couldn’t Abraham see this?
The Bible does not explain exactly why. Only when we arrive at our Home and see Abraham face-to-face, we will know exactly, but we can only explain at the principal level. At that time, Abraham’s faith was not perfected yet, and his less than perfect faith made him fail. In other words, his faith was still maturing and growing toward the full maturity that God wanted.
Faith is like a seed sown on the field. It spouts, grows, matures, and multiplies by producing a crop that is thirty times, sixty times, and even a hundred times.
Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! (Matthew 13:8)
We all know that one seed cannot immediately produce a crop, such as a day or so. Growing and maturing takes a long time. Then it can produce a crop of even a hundred times as much as had been planted. Many days of suns, rains, clouds, and winds make seed to grow and mature. Not all of the days are favorable to the seed. Some of them are even harmful. However, all of these good and bad days work together to make the seed grow stronger till producing a crop at the harvest time.
Our faith is not much different from the seed planted on the field. It requires both good and bad days, but all of the days work together to produce great faith that truly pleases God.
Why does a bad thing happen to a person who is faithful to God? The answer is that it is needed to make the faithful person grow stronger and fully mature in faith. Therefore, it is expected that we will meet both good and bad days challenging our faith because both are needed for us to grow strong in faith. This is the answer to the first question.
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. (James 1:2-4)
Then the more intriguing question is why God let Abraham fail miserably? Did God love Abraham? If so, should God have had protected Abraham from the severe famine by providing food miraculously so that Abraham should have not worried about food to feed him and his family? Abraham was the most favorite believer by God at that time, and God of omnipotent could have easily helped Abraham without any difficulty. But God did not. Why?
Paradoxically, the greatest life teacher is failure. Yes, failure is painful, but it is the best tool that reveals who we are and what’s in us. Through failure, we know how the world works also. When we succeed after succeeding, we are getting less and less chance to see who we are because our successes made us blind. Indeed, we are comfortably living in the elusive world of our success without knowing we are being deceived. In the elusive world, everything works up to our exact taste, which greatly pleases us without knowing the truth that the world deprives us of the spiritual nutrients that are badly needed for our spiritual growth in Him.
On the other hand, failure makes us wake up from the elusive world. Then it makes us walk back to Our Father as asking for His mercy and grace as realizing the vanity of holding tight our elusive world with our might. No great spiritual success in God has ever been granted without a truly painful failure or a series of such failures caused by our own might and hands.
Indeed, failure is the best present of God. However, God does not let us, His children fail randomly. God let us fail when we need most. Therefore, when we fail, we should be thankful to Him. Look up our eyes to Him and stand up again in Him. We should not be dismayed nor lose hope in Him. Our painful failure (or a series of failures) is what God’s present to us to make us grow deeper in Him by examining inside of us and knowing more about God and especially His love. Therefore, when we fail, we should acknowledge His sovereignty and His loving kindness ready to guide us through our failure. Yes, our failure is painful, but it is not God’s punishment, but God’s best teaching tool specifically prepared for us amid our fall.
Abraham failed miserably by leaving the promised land to take an easier route, which was his first huge failure in faith. God, who loved Abraham, brought the best lesson by bringing in additional life challenges to Abraham. Of course, Abraham failed after failing. Due to the imminent fear of losing his own life, he lied about his wife as his sister. Then he lost his wife to Pharaoh, the Egyptian king. This series of failures were more than he could handle. He dug deeper and deeper until he had truly found no other way to get out from his life mess except God. When Abraham came back to God with a humble, contrite, and repenting heart, God full mercy and love heard his prayer. Then God restored Abraham from all of the failures. Abraham truly experienced God. Those really painful failures together became the best teacher to Abraham. Abraham only heard God, but he saw God with his own eyes.
I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. (Job 42:5)
If we still only hear or know about God, then it is time to grow deeper into Him. What we need is an intimate relationship with God, Our Ever-Loving Father. Surely, we grow by reading the Bible and praying to God, but sometimes, our failure in Him is paradoxically needed, which makes us grow rapidly and deeper into Him. Thus, it is so precious. Is there anything else that makes us so close to God so quickly except when we get up in the middle of the night and could not go to bed again because of our painful failure before Him? Indeed, this is the time to meet God face to face. None could have great faith without a truly painful moment during the night before God. God, who is faithful and full of mercy and love, is always standing right next to us at the very moment when we need Him most. This is the reality about Our Ever-Loving Father, and nobody cannot deny this.
Seek the LORD while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. (Isaiah 55:6)
Yes, we should seek God and call on God while He is near. God is standing right next to us with wide-open arms with His unfailing love especially when we fail miserably before God by sinning against Him and others. Then lift our eyes and see the merciful eyes of Jesus Christ on the cross who loved all including those who nailed Him on the cross and hurled insults on Him as well as the failed disciples. Surely we will experience God and His love, and we will lose ourselves in His love amid our painful failure. Yes, God is always with us, and even our failure is the precious present that God let us have so that we can intimately meet God, Our Ever-Loving Father!
Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine!
by Fanny J. Crosby, 1873
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.
So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. (1 Peter 1:6-7)