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.
God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthian 1:9)
God chose Abraham out of His goodness and made His solemn covenant with Abraham – to become the father of a great nation. Abraham believed, and he left his native country and his relatives. Only went his wife, Sarah, and his nephew, Lot, with Abraham. It was a huge risk, but Abraham trusted in God. When Abraham left his native country to follow God, he did not know where he went
God, in turn, was faithful to Abraham. Abraham worshipped God wherever he went by building an altar to God and calling His name. Do we worship God like Abraham wherever we go? Abraham’s journey to follow God was not easy. Most of the time, he went through the wilderness. Then he arrived at the promised land. Abraham settled there. Since his arrival, he had gone through many life challenges.
A big famine came, which forced him to move down to Egypt. As soon as he arrived in Egypt, he felt like losing his life due to his beautiful wife. He lied and saved his life, but his lie made him greatly humiliated before many people by Pharaoh, the Egyptian king.
Then there was a big fight between his shepherds and Lot’s shepherds. After the big fight, Lot decided to leave Abraham. It deeply hurt Abraham because he always treated Lot like his son because he had no son. Despite the hurting, Abraham generously gave Lot the best land, and he took the lesser land.
The biggest challenge was that Abraham had to overcome not having his son, who would be the seed for a great nation, as God promised Abraham. He believed, but this cold reality hunted him again and again. Abraham struggled.
Indeed, without struggle, this is no belief. If it is so obvious, then why do we believe it? If so obvious, we don’t have to do anything and just take it for granted without any struggles because it will automatically come. Thus, the Bible tells
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
With faith, we can assure the future as God has promised. In faith, we can touch the promise, although we cannot see by our own eyes. Therefore, faith is so powerful that it transcends all our understanding and our limitations.
Then will one having faith not struggle anymore forever? Yes, one with faith also struggles.
Then why do we need faith if we still struggle with faith? Before answering this question, let’s see Abraham. Did he struggle? Yes, he did. Even Abraham, who had such strong faith, struggled. Then what can we say more about ourselves?
The real secrete is that our faith is work-in-progress. If we have fully mature and perfect faith, we will not struggle at all. Unfortunately, nobody on earth has the perfect faith except Jesus Christ. Therefore, we all struggle in faith, by faith, and for faith, which is the reality of our faith on earth. That is the reason why overcoming our struggle with faith is so precious.
Therefore, it is so natural that Abraham struggled. Why? He received God’s promise and believed it. If not, he would not have any reason to struggle at all, and he had no reason to leave his native country boldly. In faith, Abraham bravely followed God against all odds. Abraham was able to take all of the future risks and dangers because of faith in God. And he believed in God’s promise. Even so, it was not enough to make Abraham perfect in faith yet. Like us, Abraham met his life challenge, and he struggled while trying to remain in the faith. His struggle was not to lose out on the challenge, which was precious to God’s eye.
If we follow God without any challenges and struggles to keep our faith, how can we say our life journey filled with faith in God? Faith is the source of our power to overcome our life challenges in Him, and ironically, faith is the very source that makes us put into such a situation to struggle. In short, faith brings in a struggle in our lives, and the same faith is the very power that makes us overcome and get out of our struggle.
It is a circular argument. Yes, right! But we are not just circling in one place. As we complete a full circle, we are making progress in our relationship with Our God. Preciously, we are getting into a deeper and stronger relationship with God. We taste God’s true nature and experience God, our Ever-Loving Father, which is not comparable with anything on earth. Indeed, our God’s love is so precious and so strong that nothing can separate us from Our God. Apostle Paul shared this secret as follows:
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
Therefore, those who have faith are above all things on earth because God’s inseparable love is with them. The Bible says,
of whom the world was not worthy (Hebrews 11:38a)
Therefore, we can say,
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. (Romans 8:37)
God’s love makes us perfect, but nobody is perfect. Again, Apostle Paul shared his heart as follows:
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. (Philippians 3:12)
Even Apostle Paul admitted his imperfect faith, and he shared with us how to live in faith. Surely, we are not perfect, but we should not be discouraged and dismayed because the world beats and defeats us due to our imperfect faith. Rather than being suffering from our defeat, we lift and fix our eyes on Jesus Christ and press on. Again, we take off our feet to follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ, gone before us.
That’s why we are so much encouraged as Abraham did. He struggled, but soon he overcame it. However, the true secrete was not Abraham’s strong faith but God’s one-sided love. Abraham repeatedly struggled when he could not figure out how God’s promise to be the father of a great nation could come true without his son. Whenever he struggled, God comforted Abraham, which made Abraham grow into a deeper and deeper relationship with God.
As a result, Abraham was generous and kind to Lot, who greatly hurt his heart. Why? It was a much smaller challenge than his struggle before God without having his son, who would be the great nation’s seed promised by God. That is how God trains His children to be mature in faith. Abraham could eat a harder spiritual food than Lot, and he responded to Lot with grace in faith in God.
However, Abraham could take off his struggle of not having his son because he was also a mere human. Abraham brought many good ideas to God, but none did align with God’s promise and His plan.
But Abram replied, “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 15:2-3)
Please read what Abraham said to God. Abraham named Eliezer of Damascus as his son. Why? He believed God and waited, but God did not give him a son. Not because of his unbelief, but God did not keep his promise; Abraham brought a workable solution to God, which would end his struggle. From Abraham’s point of view, all faults were with God, not with him.
How many times have we felt like Abraham? We did everything that God told us to do, but nothing happens. Where is God’s promise? We know there is an excellent workable solution, but God does not respond. Is God blind? Why does God not see it? Then we cannot be silent but speak out loud to God as our prayer when our heart is truly distressed. Like us, Abraham struggled and dared to say to God that there is a workable solution readily available now.
How did God respond to Abraham? God calmly reminded God’s promise. God added more specifics so that Abraham could continue moving forward while holding tight to God’s promise, not being trapped in the tempting earthly solution that was so enticing but not God’s plan.
Didn’t God know Abraham’s struggle and Abraham’s heart to get out of the struggle by any means, including even giving out his blessings to his servant? God exactly knew Abraham’s heart. God even knew exactly when Abraham would bring his earthly solution to resolve the severe struggle in his heart between God’s promise and the reality where he lived.
Why, then, did God allow Abraham to go down the path to ask such a non-Godly question?
Sometimes we let our children make a mistake because it is the best method to teach our children. God knows us both in and out. God knows when we need which lesson. Indeed, God let Abraham make his own faulty decision so that Abraham could learn. God wanted Abraham to get into a deeper relationship with God, rather than being right before God all the time, which is also impossible anyway. Being into a deeper relationship with God was much more precious than being content with God’s blessings on earth.
Again, Abraham was tempted to have a son through Hagar, Sarah’s Egyptian servant, whom Sarah brought. Abraham did not ask God before accepting Sarah’s temptation. Then Hagar bore a son, Ishmael, who soon became the source of many conflicts in Abraham’s household. Soon, Sarah kicked out Hagar and her son, Ishmael.
God, always merciful to all. God showed mercy to Hagar and Ishmael. God brought back Hagar and Ishmael to mend the broken relationship. God continued leading Abraham with His unfailing love regardless of Abraham’s failures. Out of God’s unfailing love, Abraham grew day by day in God. That is the beauty of those who walk with God. Without knowing, as we are walking with God, we grow deeper into God. God leads us day by day, and we follow God, who is full of unconditionally unfailing love.
God finally decided to nail down Abraham’s faith to be immovable by keeping him from wandering off any further because he had no son.
When Abraham was ninety-nine years old, God appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.”
At this, Abram fell face down on the ground. Then God said to him,
“This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations! What’s more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations. I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them! (Genesis 17:3-6)
God even changed Abraham’s name from Abram, the father of a great nation, to Abraham, the father of many nations, to stop searching for his earthly solution to fulfill God’s promise. Can we see the pattern? Surely, God does the same to us. We often insist on our worldly solution by prayer before God. Then it leads to our struggle before God. God will not answer our prayer. Then we blame God.
Then will Our God move away from us because of our blame at God? No! Never. God unconditionally loves us. God is always with us and patiently telling us. We need to stop blaming God, be calm before God, and listen to God’s voice. God speaks to us with an even greater plan. Abraham did not know the magnitude and the scope of God’s covenant. Abraham struggled to make sense of God’s plan with his limited understanding and attempted to make God’s plan come true with Abraham’s own means. God stopped all of Abraham’s attempts.
After receiving a new name, Abraham became calm. Abraham realized that God’s plan was much greater than he thought. He dropped all his own thoughts and plans, and he approached God again with faith and humility. It was a blessed moment that Abraham grew deeper into God. As a result, Abraham’s faith was getting close to God’s plan – becoming the father of many nations.
Then God appeared again to Abraham near the oak grove belonging to Mamre. One day Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent during the hottest part of the day. He looked up and noticed three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran to meet them and welcomed them, bowing low to the ground. Then Abraham greeted God and His angels without knowing.
God came to Abraham and his wife, Sarah to give blessings. One of the angels said,
“I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!” (Genesis 18:19b)
God saw Abraham’s maturing faith, and God revealed His plan to give a son by the next year. However, Sarah was not ready yet, and she silently laughed to herself when she overheard this blessing having a son by the following year. God confronted Sahar, and Sarah was afraid, so she dying her laugh, saying, “I didn’t laugh.”
God also revealed God’s plan to judge Sodom and Gomorrah, where Lot lived. Abraham, out of his love for Lot, interceded. God graciously heard Abraham’s interceding prayer, which was another step in preparing Abraham as the father of many nations. Abraham interceded five times to save Lot from God’s judgment on Sodom — not to destroy the righteous with the unrighteous in the city. Abraham started from 50. Then Abraham negotiated down to 40, 30, 20, and finally 10. Abraham got what he wanted, and God left him. What can we see? God truly loved Abraham’s interceding prayer. Thus, we should give our interceding prayer for others. God is even willing to negotiate with us when He hears our interceding prayer out of our love for others.
Out of his interceding prayer, Abraham learned more about God and God’s character. Abraham loved Lot and interceded God for Lot. Abraham got one step closer to be the “Abraham” whom God wanted to carve out from the raw material, “Abram.” Even so, Abraham’s faith was not perfect yet.
Abraham was still living as a foreigner in the land and feared King Abimelech of Gerar in the area. He lied again that his wife, Sarah, was his sister. King Abimelech sent for Sarah and had her brought to him as his palace. Abraham once lost his wife to Pharaoh, but he did not fully learn the lesson yet. Yes, nobody is perfect, and Abraham was not either. God, who was infinitely faithful to Abraham, saved Sarah by intervening in King Abimelech that night in his dream.
God often works mysteriously. In the end, Abraham’s lie became a conduit to create a friendship between Abraham and King Abimelech. Abraham was the head of one family, but God lifted Abraham to be a friend with King Abimelech. Therefore, we should not be discouraged when we fall. Our fall is an opportunity to learn more about God and go into a deeper relationship with God. God often uses our fall to fulfill His even greater plan. Praise God! His wisdom and love is greater than all our falls and sins.
God kept his word. God did to Sarah exactly what he had promised. She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. That happened at just the time God had said it would. And Abraham named their son Isaac.
Abraham and Sarah were truly comforted. Finally, they got the son who would be the seed for God’s promise. Now, Abraham was able to touch and see God’s promise, not just hearing it.
Following God’s command, eight days after Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded. Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born.
And Sarah declared,
“God has brought me laughter. All who hear about this will laugh with me. Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby? Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!” (Genesis 21: 6b-7)
God was faithful to Abraham and Sarah, not because Abraham and Sarah were perfect in faith. No! Abraham and Sarah doubted and struggled. Abraham brought his own earthly solution to resolve his internal struggle between his faith and reality. Sarah brought her own solution to create a son by using her servant, Hagar. Ishmael was born but, at the same time, brought daily conflicts in Abraham’s household.
Out of His love, God came to Abraham and Sarah. God even changed their names not to forget God’s promise. Then God gave a blessing that they would have a son by the time in the next year. Sarah laughed, but God was faithful. God faithfully gave a son to Abraham and Sarah.
Let’s see what did Abraham do before God? No. He struggled. Why did he struggle? He believed God’s promise and trusted in God. If not, was there any reason why Abraham struggled? Some leave God because they struggle, but Abraham did not. He clung to God, which made Abraham separate from some leaving God. After all, Abraham’s clinging effort under all circumstances to God became the hallmark of Abraham’s faith. God, seeing through one’s heart, loved to see Abraham’s faith in the heart.
Nobody’s faith is perfect, but God’s faithfulness is infinite. God loves us unconditionally. What God wants is to remain in Him under all circumstances. Yes, we struggle in our lives, but our effort to cling to God in faith is precious to God’s eye. God knows our inner struggle in the heart due to our faith in Him. Surely, God reveals His secret as God did to Abraham. Thus, we can be bold in Him in this world under all circumstances.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)