LIFE’S a long series of tests, and it’s only by faith that we can hope to prosper when the difficulties and struggles come. Many, many times we’re driven to despair, yet it’s only by faith that we continue to learn to rise again and step into the unknown future God has prepared for us.
There are four certain trials we’ll all be asked to wrestle with:
1. The ‘Where’ Problem
God called Abraham to a Promised Land, but he had no idea where he was being led. He gave up a wealthy life for obscurity, because he believed He had been called. He couldn’t not go.
When a season of life has ended particularly abruptly, we’re often forced to ask “where to now, Lord?” When we don’t know where we’re headed it’s crucial we don’t go ahead and off the line of God’s Spirit.
2. The ‘When’ Game
When was Abraham to finally arrive in that long-desired Promised Land flowing with milk and honey? He and his family lived in tents for decades, never having realised the promises that God had called Abraham to. Yet the whole world is blessed because of Abraham’s obedience of faith.
“How long, O God?” screamed the psalmist in Psalm 13. We’re all pressed in by impatience, and as hope fades our faith is tested.
Yet, what God has promised to do He will get done. In His time and for His purposes.
3. The ‘How’ Conundrum
Imagine Sarah and Abraham having Isaac at 90 and 100 respectively. A barren woman conceiving at double the age of child-bearing years. It seemed an impossible scenario, yet God had a way for Sarah to conceive, and from Isaac came the rest of the lineage of the Bible.
At times in our lives there are insurmountable problems that require a miracle. Thankfully, God’s in the business of miracles. We only have to obey through an openness of heart, ready to do what God requires of us. We need to remember, we add nothing to a miracle — God doesn’t need our help.
4. The ‘Why’ Mystery
Something that bewilders us about Abraham’s story is why he was asked to, and why he was prepared to, sacrifice his son, Isaac. It seems nonsensical.
Certainly many losses we experience in life fall into these categories. We’re left asking ‘why’. Only faith holds itself open to a mystery, and when it comes to loss there’s often no explanation. Only faith resolves not to know what cannot ever be known.
We often think when life’s not going according to our plan, that God is neither in control nor cares, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
We often think that life’s not going according to plan, but our lives are always in the lap of God’s plans.
Faith accepts what our fears can only reject. Faith keeps us in the hunt for those dreams for which we should never let go.
Faith accepts the tests of life and makes those tests the basis of real life responses.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.
Acknowledgement to Pastor Phil Bryant. This article was inspired by the message he preached at Como Baptist Church on 3 April 2016.