And [the Lord] brought [Abraham] 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.
“But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.'”
God made a promise to Abraham, and Abraham lived in the tension between faith and doubt – between belief and unbelief. Just listen to the narrative…
- Abraham questioned how God would give him descendants since he had no children. (Gen. 15:3)
- God promised that Abraham would have a son and his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. (Gen 15:5)
- Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. (Gen 15:6)
- Abraham waited for God to fulfill his promise of a son. He got impatient and slept with his wife’s servant, Hagar, and Hagar bore him a son. (Gen 16:2-4)
- God reappeared to Abraham and reaffirmed his promise of a son from his wife, Sarah. He restated his covenant promise and instructed Abraham to be circumcised along with every male in his family as a sign of this covenant. (Gen 17:1-16)
- Abraham “fell on his face and laughed to himself” at the thought of his wife, Sarah, bearing him a son. But he obeyed the difficult command of the Lord to circumcise his household. (Gen 17:17; 23-27)
Do you see the ebbs and flows of faith in Abraham’s life? I can totally relate. It reminds me of the father who cried to Jesus… “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
My life is filled with the responsibility of caring for a disabled child. This responsibility is relentless. It never goes away. It causes me to long for relief – to long for heaven. I need help from God to fulfill my responsibilities with joy and gratitude. Thankfully, God’s help to me… his grace toward me is also relentless. It never goes away. Even when my faith ebbs and flows, God continues to fulfill His promises to me. His promise to never leave or forsake me. His promise to work all things for my good. His promise to conform me more into the likeness of Jesus. His promise to give comfort and peace. His promise. His promises. They never fail. They are relentless.