Genesis 15:1-8 and Doubts

abraham-starsThere are billions of people in the world that look to Abraham as the spiritual (or literal) father of their own faith.  Indeed, Abraham is lifted up as the paragon of faith in the New Testament.  In this passage, it is interesting to see how Abraham dealt with doubts:

After these events, the Lord’s word came to Abram in a vision, “Don’t be afraid, Abram. I am your protector.  Your reward will be very great.” But Abram said, “Lord God, what can you possibly give me, since I still have no children? The head of my household is Eliezer, a man from Damascus.”  He continued, “Since you haven’t given me any children, the head of my household will be my heir.” The Lord’s word came immediately to him, “This man will not be your heir. Your heir will definitely be your very own biological child.”  Then he brought Abram outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars if you think you can count them.” He continued, “This is how many children you will have.” Abram trusted the Lord, and the Lord recognized Abram’s high moral character. He said to Abram, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as your possession.” But Abram said, “Lord God, how do I know that I will actually possess it?”

Abraham had already left his home, his father, and everything he knew to go to a new land he had never seen as a response to the calling of God.  The Lord had already promised Abraham that his descendants would be given this land and Abraham had traveled all throughout this Promised Land to see the land.  God had already promised that Abraham’s children would be as numerous as the sand on the seashore.  And here Abraham questions God.

I find it extremely telling that Abraham would listen to God and obey God, and yet still have this question about children.  Abraham must have known that God can and does work in ways that are not always what we expect.  He heard the promise about descendants from God before, yet he realized that God never explicitly stated that it would be Abraham’s literal children.  So, after seeing how God protected him in his battle to rescue Lot, Abraham has enough courage to ask God specifically about offspring.

Notice, this means that Abraham believed God, and he believed God would answer his question (which is a sign of faith as well), but he doubted that the promise included he and his wife literally having children.  Once that question was directly answered by God, then Abraham knows that he can converse directly with God, so he asked the next question on his mind.  This question, about the land, was also one of those promises that God had made to Abraham and never really gave much detail to what was meant by it or how God would make it come true.  Now Abraham has the courage to ask about these promises that directly impacted and changed his life forever.

There are times when we catch a glimpse of a promise or calling in our lives by God, but we may not have an explicit understanding of what it means.  If we follow the example of Abraham, and we respond in faith, even if we still have doubts, God will make it abundantly clear to us what we are called to be and do, provided we are honest enough with ourselves and God to admit our doubts and seek answers to them.

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