"He considered him faithful who had made the promise."

Bible Reading: Genesis 20; 21

God made a promise to Abraham that he would give the whole land of Canaan to his offspring, even though, at age 75, he was still childless. Twenty-five years went by. Each year, the fulfillment of God's promise seemed more and more unattainable. Finally, at 100 years of age, when it was humanly impossible for Abraham and Sarah to conceive a child and the very thought caused both of them to laugh to themselves, God miraculously fulfilled his promise (21:1-3; 17:17; 18:11-12; Heb. 11:11).

Why did God make the promise so early, when he didn't plan to act on it for 25 long years? Could it be that God wanted Abraham to live as though the promise were true, trusting not in himself, but in the God who promised it? As Abraham hoped and waited, his faith waxing and waning, he "considered him faithful who had made the promise" (Heb. 11:11). Could it be that the struggle to believe God, even against impossible odds, is what shaped such an intimate relationship between God and Abraham that God would call him "my friend" (Isaiah 41:8; 2 Chron. 20:7; James 2:23)?

God never promised me that my offspring would number the sands of the sea (whew!). Nor did he promise that, if I tried to live by his rules, he would keep my life relatively free of hardship and injustice. On the contrary, he guaranteed, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

While God does not promise to make my journey trouble-free, he does promise to faithfully walk beside me, guiding and counseling me all the way. He shines the light of truth at my feet when the path grows dark, giving me grace and strength for every step of faith. As we climb the steep and rugged terrain together, he slowly builds my faith and endurance, assuring me that he will work it all out for my good and for his glory. In the midst of my chaos, he whispers in my ear, "Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand... I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, 'Do not fear; I will help you.'" (Isaiah 41:10,13).

How do we keep on believing God's promise when the odds stack up against us? We believe in the One who made the promise. Though we can't always figure out how God might show his faithfulness through our circumstances, we can choose to believe that he is faithful. When we can't see what God is doing, we can trust in who he is. We can decide to live as though everything he says about himself is absolutely true, even if it seems contradicted by the events that are unfolding (or not) around us.

Putting our hope in the only Faithful One, let us resolve, day by day, to stand on his promise and to consider him faithful who made the promise. As we choose to trust him and embrace his goodness, may we become more deeply acquainted with this friend who promises never to leave us or forsake us.

(Hymn by Annie Johnson Flint, 1919)

God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing kindness, undying love.