Have you escaped city lights and gazed at the stars on a cool summer night? Isn’t the nighttime sky stunning? When I was grieving a tragic death this past week, God sent me to the star gazing story of the childless, elderly Abram (later renamed Abraham):
God took [Abram] outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.
I always thought this count-the-stars moment occurred during God’s initial promise of descendants to Abram. But I was wrong. This starry night conversation happens many years later as God’s third reassurance that Abram’s many descendants will become a great nation. (Gen 12:1-4, Gen 13:16, Gen 15:5-6)
Let’s recall Abram’s story. God instructed seventy-five year old Abram and his barren wife Sarai, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. (Gen 12:1-2).” So Abram packed up his wife and nephew, Lot, and set off toward an undisclosed location.
They spent some time in Egypt due to famine, but over time, Abram became “very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold. (Gen 13:2)” Lot’s livestock also increased so their herds were too large for one pasture. So Abram and Lot parted ways. Through these years of travel and prosperity, still no children for Abram.
After several more years passed, Abram complained to God, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir (Gen 15:4).” Who wouldn’t complain after such a long wait for a promised child? Abram and Sarai aren’t getting any younger.
Are you counting on God to fulfill a promise?
Do you question His delayed response?
If so, then you can relate to Abram’s feelings. Was that promise really from God? If so, it doesn’t look like His plan is progressing. How much longer will I wait?
God did not rebuke Abram’s complaint but reassured him.
God promised Abram for a third time that he’d be the father of nations, that his offspring would be like the dust of the earth, and now, as plentiful as the stars. Despite the long wait and disappointment,
Abram looked at the starry sky and believed the Lord.
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him. “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what he had promised. Romans 4:18-22
Abram had no natural hope for children and even less potential to conceive than when God made the promise. Yet he looked at the sky full of heavenly bodies created by God and believed He could give life to an old man and his wife’s dead womb. Abram believed God had the power to do what he had promised.
Abram was fully persuaded of God’s power and confident in God’s promises.
It might surprise you that in the midst of my recent grief, I had to coach myself to turn to God’s Word for comfort. I read in obedience but couldn’t imagine how God would speak. I’m an entire month behind in my devotional, but read the month old entry. Abram’s confidence in God’s power to fulfill His promises was the divinely timed story. I call this a God-incidence. Abram’s unwavering faith encouraged me to reaffirm my belief that God gives life through His promises.
- When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. Isaiah 43:2
- The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you Deut 31:8
- 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 41:13
- He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Isaiah 40:29
- Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
- My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor 12:9
- Trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world. John 16:33 (MSG)
When you’re struggling, remind yourself that God is faithful and good.
He has power to bring life to a hopeless situation.
Abraham is often seen as a model of faith, but even he struggled with patience and trust.
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