The Bible is chock-full of amazing promises that God has made to His people. There is no way in this short space to do justice to them all, and certainly each of us has our favorites. I seem to gravitate to those that defy natural conditions and circumstances. They elevate the bigness of God in His wisdom, foreknowledge, love and grace. In difficult times, they are reminders that God has a plan, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those that love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Among my favorites is the promise God made to Abraham that he would be the father of many nations even though he was childless at the time. Sarah was beyond child-bearing years and Abraham was almost 100 years old. But, “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed.” (Romans 4:18a) God used that same promise to assure me that our son and daughter-in-law who had been trying to conceive for eight years, but got only discouraging reports from doctors, would be blessed with a son. Today the child of that promise also has a brother. Our God is “the God Who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.” (Romans 4:17b) Scripture goes on about Abraham, “Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” (4:20-21)
I believe Christ-followers try very hard to be the people of faith demonstrated by Abraham, yet there are times that faith seems as slippery as walking on ice. In my early years as a Christian, it was confusing to watch those more mature than I take faith stands that were sometimes realized, and other times not. I had been erroneously taught that the latter situation occurred from the lack of faith needed to move God’s hand. Therefore, I focused much effort on trying to grow my faith – surely, I could attain a “mustard-seed” supply. But when I believed God for a healing that didn’t happen, or for justice where a person seriously wronged still suffered, whatever faith I sincerely thought I had was shaken.
I believe the explanation is actually contained in the above scripture: God promised Abraham. Contrast that to a phrase I have often heard and have been guilty of using, “I’m believing God for (fill in the blank).“ Without a specific promise from God, we are filling that blank with what we want or think is best, and presuming God will be in agreement. But, God must originate all promises. Our most humanly righteous thoughts will never contain the breath of wisdom, purpose, and timing that belong to God alone. We complicate things when we choose our own promises, erring in disbelief that He would have a promise for us, or fearing that it would not match what we want. The fact is that our faith should not be in an outcome, but in God’s goodness. If that is our position, we have confidence that what He proposes is best, even when it makes no rational sense. “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. 9 ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Abraham believed in God’s goodness which gave him the courage to ask for an heir, and then to believe God’s impossible promise regardless of how long he had to wait. Abraham’s example continues to challenge us today, especially when there is no next day delivery. But aren’t God’s impossible promises worth it? Lord, please give me the faith in Your character to know what You have said You will do, You absolutely WILL do.