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Courage When… 3: Abraham

Day 3 of Courage When – When God’s Directions Seem Confusing or Callous: Abraham

Genesis 22:1-18; 14:10-20; 18:20-33; Hebrews 11:8-12,17-19

Abraham knew what it was like to do what God said, no matter how absurd it seemed to others. 

Leave my home and family to follow an invisible God to an unknown land?

Okay, God. 

Wait for You to give me a son when I am 100 years old? 

Okay, God. 

Offer my only son, the one You promised would father countless generations, as a sacrifice to You when I see no reason for this command? 

Yes, God, whatever you say. 

I, for one, know that I would have thought Abraham was delusional. I would have assumed the instructions of God were merely the whims of a madman. The things God expected Abraham to believe were, at best, highly improbable, and what He asked him to do in Genesis 22 was, at worst, homicidal. What kind of God asks a man to kill his only son, the beloved son whom he has waited for a century?! 

Our God does. And that begs the question, why do we trust a God like that?

It is a fact of the Christian life that we are not always going to understand why God wants something from us. We are not always going to be able to make sense of what His Word or His Holy Spirit tells us to do. Even Jesus tells Peter in John 13:7, while He washes Peter’s feet, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” The patriarchs often did not understand God’s plan. The disciples often did not understand Jesus’ plan. We are not alone in this. 

But God promises that His purposes are always for our good (Romans 8:28). He tells us clearly that His ways are infinitely higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9). Looking at Scripture, we now know that God used Abraham’s obedience as a model of faith for both the Jewish nation and Christ’s church. We also know that Abraham’s willing offering of Isaac was a striking picture of the Father’s willing offering of Christ on the cross for us. Abraham obeyed in faith, having no idea of what that moment would mean thousands of years later. But God HAD a plan. And because Abraham obeyed, even when His instructions made no sense, God provided a ram. His promises were never going to go unfulfilled, though it looked from the outside like He was forsaking them completely.

We need this reminder today, perhaps more now than ever before in history. Globally, all the structures that once felt stable are shaking beneath our feet. Economies are collapsing. Governments are dividing and consolidating power at rapid rates. The church is in turmoil. And looking around at a world of sickness, deception, and despair, it is alarmingly easy to believe that God does not see. Or that He has walked away and left us in a mess because He has had enough. Or that perhaps the promises of peace and hope that Christ left us were nothing more than empty words and have failed us when we need them most. 

However, God’s Word has prepared us with truth and encouragement for the days when these thoughts arise. He has never claimed that we will not experience suffering or hatred or discouragement or poverty—but He has given us His word that He will be there. 

In the times when we cannot see what God is doing or why God is asking something of us, it is our natural human response to recoil from Him and try our hardest to make everything make sense first. After all, neither the means nor the end may turn out the way we desire or expect. But if we want to courageously follow the God who created us and who loved us enough to send His Son for our redemption, we must let go of our need to understand everything. We must obey now and understand later; we must walk in faith from the first step, and map our route only in hindsight. 

Abraham learned what we must learn: sometimes the most courageous thing we can do is say “Yes, God” when everything within us is screaming “Why?!” While that choice may look reckless to the world around us, our God calls it righteous—and He will reward it. 

Jesus said to [Thomas], “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29, ESV)

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