In Genesis 12, God makes a promise to Abraham. He promises to bless him with many descendants, but Abraham and his wife, Sarah, are very old and have no children. Still, they remain confident that God will follow through on His promise.
After many years and still no children, they decide to take matters into their own hands. Through a series of events told in Genesis 16, Abraham has a son with his servant, Hagar. Obviously, this was not the son God had promised. Despite the odds, at the age of 100, Abraham and his wife have the promised son, Isaac.
Then, Genesis 22 tells us the story of God testing Abraham.
God, with an ironic dose of foreshadowing, comes to Abraham and tells him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. It had to have been nothing short of a crushing blow to Abraham. Isaac was his only son and he was to carry on the family name.
But, God had been faithful to his word before, so Abraham prepared to obey the orders he received. He got up early the next morning and loaded his supplies for the customary sacrifice. Soon, both father and son set off, only one knowing the specifics of the journey. Isaac asked his father, “where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham’s response was one of incredible faith, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”
Finally, when they had arrived, the two built an altar for the sacrifice. No doubt, with a heavy yet faithful heart, Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son. Raising his knife to slay his son, Abraham heard the voice of God.
“Do not lay a hand on that boy…Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Genesis 22:12
At that moment, he looked up in the bushes to see a ram caught by its horns. God had provided a burnt offering, not in the form of Abraham’s son, but from an unforeseen source. Then, the two sacrificed the ram as a burnt offering to God.
“…On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.” Genesis 22:14
It’s in the midst difficult decisions that we must remain faithful to God. He has provided for us before, through the sacrifice of Jesus, and he has promised to continue.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
The challenge is not in wondering whether God will be faithful and provide, but whether we can stay obedient when life doesn’t go our way.
I once heard an interesting analysis of the story in Genesis.
Think back to when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son. At that point in the story, it was decision time. Abraham had a decision to obey or not to obey. He chose to obey, but it couldn’t have been an easy choice. Now, what if God hadn’t actually asked him to sacrifice Isaac? What if Abraham heard God wrong? How would the story have changed?
I believe it wouldn’t have changed at all. God still would have provided a ram. Abraham acted out of obedience to his Father and, therefore, trusted in the outcome.
As long as God is involved in the decision making process, you can’t be wrong. His will is too strong.
J.I. Packer wrote in his book “Knowing God”, “Your faith will not fail while God sustains it; you are not strong enough to fall away while God is resolved to hold you.”
That is our attitude moving forward.
Yesterday, we got news that the tumors have grown. The treatment is not working. While that’s a difficult pill to swallow at this point, we understand that choosing the clinical trial at UNMC 9 weeks ago was not the wrong decision. We believe that God opened that door for a reason. Although we may not know the reason, we are confident that God will provide a ram.
He’s done it before through the sacrifice of His Son, and we believe He will do it again.