And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
(Genesis 15:5–6 ESV)
Abram was 88 years old when God promised him a son who would multiply his offspring into billions of people. Abram wanted kids. God said that He would provide. And to Abram’s credit, he believed it. God said it, Abram believed it, and Abram’s faith was counted to him as righteousness.
Now keep in mind that Abram had just heard the literal voice of God tell him that against all odds, he and his wife would have a child at their ancient age. But when Sarai heard God’s promise, she unconvinced Abram–she got him to believe that God didn’t actually mean what He said because it was too unbelievable. So, in faithlessness, Abram “took” one of Sarai’s servants, and this servant bore a son who would be a thorn in Abram’s progeny’s side for the next, what.. 6,000 years or so.
Fast-forward thirteen painful years. God provided. Just like he said. Abram begot Isaac, and the rest is history.
1) God told Abram and Sarai that they would have a child
2) Abram and Sarai did not believe God was telling the truth
3) Abram and Sarai decided to “go rogue” and take it into their own hands
4) Disaster ensues
5) God remains faithful and gives them a son 13 years later
I live this all the time. I respond to my life in anger, frustration, and faithlessness and prove that I don’t really believe that God is Ultimate Good and wants the Ultimate Good for me.
I’m finding out that the point at which I respond in anger, frustration, and faithlessness is the point at which I refuse to believe that God is telling the truth. When I respond faithlessly, I am not believing that my path is actually the most gracious, best path I could ever traverse. My solutions are more immediately tangible, and therefore I believe that they are better.
But of course, it doesn’t work that way. The more I intervene, the worse everything gets.
I’m not saying that we should all sit back and wait for God to make everything better, but if I thoroughly believed that the Father will graciously give me all good things in Jesus (Romans 8:32), I would never get angry. I would be free to feel pain and never grow resentful. I would be able to absorb anything because I would be convinced that it wasn’t meant to destroy me–it might undo me, but never destroy me.
The problem is believing all this when the stakes are high and all the cards are on the table. I don’t know how to get myself to believe like that, but God does. I need Him to enable me to see the whole screen–not just a few pixels. He is loving. He does care. I just don’t get it all the time.