Imagine the (fictitious) scene:
A wife, broken-hearted, sobs quietly in the dark. In the still of the night, with head on pillow, the broken dreams come to the forefront. Her husband knows her pain all too well. He rolls over, takes herin his arms, and tucking her head, tries to hid the tears that roll, uncontrolled, down his face.
“God is still good. Even in this,” he reassures, not only his sweet wife, but himself as well.
The promise of descendants more numerous than the sands falls flat in the night. The faith to believe, despite the aged bodies and barren womb, stretches.
And in the morning, heads are lifted off of tear-stained pillows, and the day is lived. They may not understand the delay. But hey know the God who made the promise. As Sarah makes breakfast, Abraham gives her a hug, kisses her head, and prays for the day ahead of them.
Years later, the tears roll again. Infertility was lifted, the son was born, but Abraham is quiet and Isaac is watching him. The teen has grown strong, in body and in faith. There is something stirring in the home. Her husband and son know something. She is not sure she wants to know.
Each time Abraham rises from prayers, he turns back and returns to a prostrate position of humility before the Father. She doesn’t mention the tears she sees in his eyes. Isaac is watching too. She knows that Isaac doesn’t know the details, but Isaac is watching his father too. She prays too, though she knows not for what.
The morning comes and her husband takes her son, two servants, a donkey, and some supplies for a sacrifice. She can see the questions in Isaac’s eyes, and recognizes the humble submission to Abraham. Abraham looks her in the eye for a long time before leaving. There is pain there, burden, and the same submission to the Father that she sees reflected in her son.
“God is still good. Even in this,” Abraham whispers, as tears fill his eyes. He cups her face in his hand; she rests her hand on his. “God is good. Even in this,” she assures him.
And she watches the two men in her life, the core of her home, walk out the door. So she prays…
I don’t know that this is how it came about. But the scripture is clear.
The promise spoken by God:
“Then God said, ‘No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.” –Genesis 17:19
The promise fulfilled:
“And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken.” –Genesis 21:1
And yet, He takes the promise away:
“So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.’ So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, ‘My father!’ And he said, ‘here I am, my son.’ Then he said, ‘Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering.?’ And Abraham said, ‘My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.’ So the two of them went together. Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.” –Genesis 22:3-10
Is your faith this flexible? Can your faith bend with the unfathomable requests from the mouth of God? Do you believe He is who He says he is? Do you believe He is good, even in this?
Yes, God stayed Abraham’s hand. Yes, God provided a different sacrifice. But Abraham did not know that when he raised the knife. Neither Sarah nor Abraham knew the sacrifice would be asked, then spared, when they cradled the promised child in their arms. They did not know how God would provide Isaac through two aged people. They did not know that God would ask for Isaac’s life. And they did not know God would spare the son.
But they knew God. And their faith flexed to meet God where God was leading.
Is your faith that flexible?
photo by Cheryl Empey