Romans 4 vs 18 - 22
18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 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. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Would you describe yourself as a patient person? Here I must hold my hands up and say that I definitely am impatient not in every case but in so many ways. Impatience can be a problem for the disciples of Jesus for so often God requires us to wait, to be patient and that is hard to do when we are suffering, or anticipating some blessing or promise that seems so long in coming about.
God gave Abraham so many promises, great promises that would only come to fruition centuries beyond his earthly lifetime but to Abraham, and Sarah his wife who were without children God had promised a son even in their old age. Now, they were old even when God gave the promise, but Abraham had to wait and wait, and wait some more until as Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, his body was a good as dead. This promise could only be fulfilled in Abraham’s lifetime and that life seemed to be running out rapidly. Remarkably though, Paul affirms that Abraham did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God and that is why God counted him as righteous.
We don’t like it but often our faith is tested and for those truly called of God that testing is intended to develop our faith and Christian character but that isn’t always clear or understandable to us. Christians of course, are subject to all the comings and goings of life, all its ups and downs, its joys and sorrows but additionally there are the trials of faith to contend with which include waiting for something promised to us, for some change in our painful or testing circumstances or the end of persecution from whatever source it might come. These are the things that can discourage and lead us to question the love, power or trustworthiness of God. Add to that then the frustration that progress in the Christian life is sometimes slow and the sins that beset us seem often to have the upper hand. To be like Abraham then, of unswerving faith, is difficult.
It’s here that the means of grace God has given to us, prayer, the bible, fellowship and the sacraments serve to encourage us and build our faith so that the confidence Paul expressed to the Christians in Philippi may be true of us, “……being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil1:6. No wonder then that John Newton confident of this and seeing the God of grace at work in all his circumstances could write words that we so often find comforting, “Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come, tis grace has brought me safe thus far and grace will see me home.” Be patient a while longer, the Lord has not forgotten his promises. In this Abraham is an example of faith for us all.