“…he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God…”
In the course of our walk with Christ it is easy to waver in our faith. Due to circumstances and our feelings we may decide that God is not present, that he does not care, or that he simply is not powerful enough to do what we want or need him to do. The valleys of our lives make these times of despair easy.
Romans chapter four tells the story of Abraham’s call and response. God promised his descendants land and Abraham “believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness” (4:3). Long after the fulfillment of the promise we read back with a sense of obvious fulfillment in mind. We can actually go back and read Old Testament history after Abraham’s life and watch the fulfillment of the promise unfold. Looking back we are full of trust in God’s promise.
But we need to be in Abraham’s place to learn the lesson of trust in God. The promise was not fulfilled the day it was made, and when Abraham considered the resources he had at his disposal the future looked dim. In fact, in purely physical terms, the promise was impossible. It is exactly at this point that Paul teaches us a lesson about Abraham’s trust in God.
As Paul writes in 4:19, Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was barren. They were not going to have any more children, and God’s promise was contingent upon them having children. But Paul goes on to say, “No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God” (4:20). Abraham looked at his physical condition and saw the impossibility, but he never wavered in his trust in God’s promise because he took up the act of giving glory to God. Moreover Paul adds that he was “fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised” (4:21). Abraham had confidence in what he knew about the nature of God.
It is a profound mistake to look at my weaknesses and then lose faith in God’s power.
That would be like saying, “I’m a bad golfer, so Phil Michelson will miss this shot,” or “I have no ability to build rockets, so NASA won’t be able to put anyone in orbit.” When I lose confidence in what I know to be true about God because I am consumed with my shortcomings, I confuse my character with God’s; I confuse my powerlessness with God’s power.
What should I do if I am full of doubt about the promises or character of God? (Which I so often am!) Do what Paul said Abraham did – he “gave glory to God”. Worship him. Recite the perfections of his character. Remember his promises fulfilled and recount his power displayed. Go to him in adoration, lifting your thoughts out of your weaknesses and into his glory. Go to church this weekend and revel in his presence with the family of God.
It might be a good idea to do that now.