Genesis 22:11-12 “And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.”
The Bible is so rich in history and its teachings. All that I read is real in its telling. This account of Abraham’s testing at the hand of God struck me to think, “Would I be able to pass such a test?” To look at this as a solitary test would place much on Abraham’s character to undergo such a task. But Abraham had grown in his faith, in his relationship with God to the place where God called him;
James 2:23 “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.”
God called Abram from his home to a place He did not name – He gave direction, not a destination. This was his first test.
Genesis 12:1 “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:”
Abraham wasn’t perfect but because of his belief in God, God called him righteous – or what you and I would know to be saved. Salvation in the Old Testament was the belief in the promise looking forward to the Messiah’s coming. That trust or faith brought him to the next test – rescuing Lot from his enemies and then interceding on behalf of Lot from the judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah.
So, when Abraham had gotten to the place where God asked him to take Isaac, his only son to sacrifice him, he obeyed immediately by rising early that next day to do what the Lord had commanded him to do.
When trials or testing comes into our lives, there are some guiding principles that we can take with us as we process through what to do.
First, God is not ignorant of what trial you are going through. One of His attributes is Omniscience, or all-knowing. To the depths that every idle word; spoken or unspoken is heard by God.
Matthew 12:36 “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.”
Second, God is sovereign. He rules over everything. Everything is under His control. Amazingly enough that in His sovereignty, He has given man a free will to choose. Often, it is our choices that place us in situations and circumstances, but then there are those not of our doing. The doctor comes back and says, “You have cancer”, or “You’ve lost the baby”, or “They’re gone…”. We hear news that rocks our world; shakes us to the core. So much so that it shakes our faith.
Thirdly, we must accept that all things work together for God’s good. Not always good as we would see it, but for God’s good. A child suffers abuse at the hands of a wicked one and we wonder, “If God is so powerful, why didn’t He stop them?” We fail to see that through His healing, love and mercy, He can not only bring the abused to a place of peace and use it to reach out to those who find themselves in bondage because of their abuse. It can also bring forgiveness to the one who began the abuse.
Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Fourthly, I must have an eternal perspective.
Colossians 3:1-2 “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”
If our lives, in perspective, are seemingly but a vapor; a breath vanishing in cold air; I must think with eternity in mind. To neglect it would be selfish. To live solely thinking of Heaven only would hinder life here. But I must bring Heaven into view when trials come to balance the immediacy of the situation.
James 4:14 “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”
Lastly, when we’ve been brought through trials and have seen the hand of God provide, protect and empower; I must stop and give thanks. To the place where you may hear one say, “Thank you God, for the trial – it was used to bring many to Christ, it has made my relationship with You stronger. You have shown me that I can bear more than I think when I am fully trusting in You to see me through.”
Ephesians 5:20-21 “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”
Always for all things… A hard test to be sure. But know that God would not give us anything that we, through the power of the Holy Spirit could not bear.
1 Corinthians 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
Many think the ‘escape’ is to be taken out of the trial when in fact, reliance upon God buoys us up under the circumstances to rise above the storm. There is not a one of us that will escape trials. He said it is inevitable. But thanks be to God – He has given His Word that we will make it through and that we do not have to go through it alone!
God never placed anything in your path that you and He can not only survive, but have it look like victory on the other side!