Welcome! For the next few weeks, I’m sharing six posts, written for a series on The Story, and first posted on the Gloria Dei blog.
As I reread these posts, I’m reminded of the struggles the men and women of the Old Testament went through, and what I can learn about their faith and trust in God.
This is the second post—about Abraham. To read the first, click here: My Lower Story in God’s Upper Story.
Faith, Trust, and Hope
(First posted at Gloria Dei on September 19, 2012)
It seems God’s timing rarely matches the time frame we would prefer. We’re an instant gratification society. From fast food to drive-thru everything, we don’t like to wait. Does anyone besides me get impatient if the internet is a few seconds too slow?
So, reading about Abraham and Sarah reminds me that the patience to wait on God’s timing comes through faith, trust, and hope. But better still is God’s grace for them as they struggled with impatience and took matters into their own hands.
Abraham (known as Abram at that time) was 75 years old when God told him to leave his country, his people, and father’s household, and go to a new land, where God would bless him and make him into a great nation.
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. Hebrews 11:8 NIV
Faith, as defined in The Story, is complete trust. True faith is much deeper than mere intellectual agreement with certain facts—it affects the desires of one’s heart. (The Story pg. 14)
In Abraham’s lower story, he didn’t know where God was taking him. He didn’t know how his obedience fit into God’s upper story, but he didn’t need to know. Abraham trusted God and wanted to be faithful, so he packed up and went.
Trust is the assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. (NLT Study Bible, Tyndale)
Trusting God is knowing that what He says will happen. We might not know when or how, but we can be sure that God will always keep His promises.
Abraham trusted God, but the waiting and longing for a child had to be awful. What did Abraham think every time he saw the pain in Sarah’s eyes? How did Sarah respond when surrounded by the children of family and friends, knowing that a family was not in her future?
Years later, God told Abraham again that he would be the father of many. But Abraham still didn’t know when or how that could happen, only that he had God’s word.
At some point during the wait, I would have wavered between faith and hopelessness. I would have wanted to ask God, “How long God? I can’t do this anymore—it’s too hard. Why did you tell me I’d have descendants when it seems impossible? Why did you give me hope for a son when it’s not to be?”
Abraham said it more eloquently when the Lord came to him in a vision…
But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”
Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Genesis 15:2-5 NIV
I can hear the compassion in God’s voice as He answers Abraham. God knew his pain and lovingly confirms that Abraham will have a son and be the father of many. And then God goes a step further and makes a covenant with Abraham—a promise that only God can keep.
When it all seemed impossible, Abraham had faith in God. He trusted God. And His hope was in God.
Abraham hoped for a son. He desperately wanted a son. Just like many of us desperately hope for or want something—a child, a spouse, maybe a change in circumstances.
But I like this definition of hope…
Hope is the confident trust with the expectation of fulfillment. (NLT Study Bible, Tyndale)
Hope in God is knowing He will be there, no matter what.
Hope is knowing He will act in our best interest, according to His grand upper story.
Hope is knowing that when life hurts, we’re not alone—God will never leave us.
God kept His promise to Abraham. 25 years after God first told Abraham he would be a father, Sarah had a baby boy named Issac. Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90.
Abraham and Sarah couldn’t see past their lower story, just like you and I can’t see past ours. There are times when the story eventually turns out the way we want it to, as it did for Abraham and Sarah. But sometimes God has something different in mind. Through faith, trust, and hope, we have the assurance that our lower story is part of God’s upper story…fulfilled His Way and in His time.