Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Life of Faith We’d Like to Have

“Now Abraham was old, advanced in age; and the LORD had blessed Abraham in every way.”  -Genesis 24:1
Abraham was one of the most blessed men the world has known.  When Abraham dies in Genesis chapter 25, verse 8 says he “died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life.”  Part of me asks, how could Abraham not be satisfied with life?  He was extremely wealthy, he had a beautiful wife, he had a close relationship with God, he had a healthy family, he knew his family was going to be blessed by God in the future, and he lived a long life.

I know that Abraham faced difficulties in his faith.  And I’m sure his wealth brought its own unique temptations.  But even in those difficulties, things always seemed to work out in the end.  In many ways, it seems a charmed life – close with God, and “blessed in every way,” as Genesis 24:1 says. 

Wouldn’t we love to have Abraham’s life of faith?  A few challenges along the way, but a life that walks with God and has tragedy-free happiness most of the time?  Most people’s reality is very different.  In fact, we find many people in the Bible who were expected to be faithful to God in spite of gut-wrenching circumstances:

Ø  Moses’ obedience was to lead an unappreciative people, who constantly complained about his leadership, often saying they had been better off in slavery! (Exod. 14:10-12, for one of many examples)

Ø  Jeremiah’s obedience was to keep preaching an unpopular message.  In fact, he felt like God had deceived him in his call to be a prophet, because he had become a laughingstock to the many that mocked his message, including his trusted friends (Jer. 20:7-10).

Ø  Hosea’s obedience included marrying a prostitute, who later left him, and then Hosea was told to take her back.  Married to a woman who doesn’t seem interested in him at all, all to show how much God loves a sinful people who keep leaving Him (Hosea chapters 1-3).

Ø  Ezekiel’s obedience included bottled-up grief when his wife died, because God asked him to not show any outward signs of mourning, as a sign of the coming sadness of God’s people when they would be scattered in captivity (Ezek. 24:15-27).

Ø  Jesus’ obedience included leaving heaven, coming to earth, and dying on a cross, all for the sins of others (Phil. 2:5-8).

Our list could go on and on.  These people of faith remind me that faithfulness to God is not always a triumphal victory march through the world.  After all, our faith begins with a Savior who suffered and died on a cross!  Things don’t always work out here as we would like.  Circumstances are almost never perfect.  Yet God expects us to be faithful in our obedience to him, no matter what life throws at us. 

But what’s even better, God promises that He will be faithful, giving us His strength to endure whatever difficulties come our way, and promising an eternal reward that will make it all worth it.  As Paul wrote, “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18).

Even in the most difficult seasons of our life, let us be people of deep-rooted obedience.  If we will, we will take our place in an honored tradition of men and women who glorified God in a special way, by trusting even when their life of faith wasn’t the one they’d like to have.

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