Imagine with me for a moment that what you have been waiting for, for a very long time, has finally come. You are living the dream! But then the next day you are asked to give the dream up or to give away what you have received? What would you do? How would you feel?
I would probably struggle with disbelief and be overwhelmed with grief.
Our friend Sarah and her husband Abraham, who we have been talking about the last couple of weeks, had such an experience.
Let’s revisit their story:
The weight of waiting has been lifted! Sarah has entered the delivery room! The promised heir has come. Genesis 21 opens with a beautiful description of God’s goodness and faithfulness:
“Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what He had promised.”Genesis 21:1
In spite of Sarah’s doubt; in spite of her sinful decision to take matters into her own hands; in spite of her mistreatment of Hagar, God was gracious to her and did for her what He had promised. Let that sink in. This beautiful picture of God’s goodness and faithfulness definitely points us to the blessings we now have in Jesus Christ, amen? God has lavished His love and grace upon us, for while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! (Romans 5:8).
A little later in their story, we find out if Sarah and Abraham are still depending on their promise-keeping God when God puts Abraham and Sarah’s faith to the test.
Testing Provides What Faith Needs To Thrive
So this is the test they are given: God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, on an altar to the Lord.
Wow! Can you imagine receiving this direction from the Lord, to give up what you had waited so long for? Wouldn’t you be devastated? Not only that, Abraham doesn’t leave to do as the Lord commanded until the next morning. Can you imagine the kind of night Sarah and Abraham had? What do you think Sarah felt in her heart upon hearing from Abraham what God was requiring of them? I would certainly have been struggling to release what I had waited so long to receive. The idea of God being good would probably be overcome by confusion and disbelief.
But here’s the lesson:
We don’t obey God with the hope that He will work things out in a way that is comfortable for us, or in a way that will produce the results we are wanting, or with the idea that we will receive a reward. We obey because that is how we demonstrate our trust in God’s goodness, even when we don’t understand His plan.
Just as Abraham, knife in hand, was about to kill his promised son, God provided a substitute for Isaac, a ram. And Abraham and Sarah’s faith grew, because they clearly experienced God’s goodness come through.
Obedience shows God we trust Him even when we don’t understand His plan.
Here’s a recap of what we’ve learned this last month about God’s goodness.
Even when hope seems far away, God is still good.
When God speaks a promise, we can believe Him at his word.
When we have been hurt or mistreated by others’ sinful decisions, God sees us and shows his mercy.
When God tests our trust in Him, our faith grows.
When God asks us to release something we have been given, we trust Him to provide.
So friend, will you join me in choosing to trust that our good God always has a good plan?
Let’s begin today reclaiming our trust in Him and His goodness!