by Lisa Leidenfrost
Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” (Rom. 4:16-18)
Notice how central faith is in these verses, and to Abraham and Sarah.
‟By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” …. ‟By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised” (Heb. 11:8; 11).
What was their situation?
‟And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” ” (Rom. 4:19-22).
What is faith?
‟Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).
How important is faith?
‟ But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).
What does this mean? My loose definition of faith is: believing in what you can’t see or feel. The feeling part can really get women. They think, “I feel, therefore it is.” Faith is believing God’s promises and having hope anyhow, even when your feelings are telling you the exact opposite. (‘Oh, it is all hopeless, this will just go from bad to worse and God won’t be there like He promised.’) But what did Abraham do? ‟Contrary to hope, in hope he believed.”
It is that stubborn clinging on to God and not believing the lies that bombard us in a times of weakness. It is saying, “I trust you, even though I don’t understand.” Do you understand how God gave you salvation? Do you understand the workings of the Trinity? We have to take these truths on faith because our minds can’t wrap around these concepts, nor can we fully understand them. When you are going through a hard providence and you don’t understand how God can do this to you, when you question whether He truly cares, stand on the promises and stubbornly cling to what is true, even if you can’t feel it.
What does it mean that God will not give us more than we can bear with His strength? It means that nothing is too big for God and that no matter what you are given, when you put your hand in His, you will get the strength to do what He is asking you to do and He will go there with you. It means that when you look to Him, you won’t be ultimately defeated by this trial and even if it does momentarily get you down, that you can look up, and get courage and strength to go on from Him. It means that you cling stubbornly to the promises that ‟He will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5), and that ‟He cares for you” (I Pet. 5:7).
As we grow, we recognize more and more that we are made of clay. We recognize that God is glorified in weakness and that extreme weakness means extreme glory to God, because it will no longer be your strength but His, and that’s when His glory shines through the best. This doesn’t happen when we are using our own strength.
“…For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12.10).
When Abraham was in a situation that seemed hopeless, he had hope anyhow and believed God in spite of the circumstances.
‟ By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac” (Heb. 11:17).
‟and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform” (Rom. 4:21).
God is able to do anything. He has decreed your trial, its start, duration and finish for His purposes. We ask for deliverance, but if He doesn’t give it in the way we want, we trust Him anyhow. We may not be able to see what He is up to; we just know that we can trust Him with our lives.
And this is the result of faith:
‟Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:1, 2).
‟And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:3, 4).
So, the result is that God’s love is poured out in our hearts and we have courage to go on, even when we don’t understand why.
‟ that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet. 1:7-9).