Abraham’s resilient faith

Posted Aug 3, 2020

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Daily Scripture

Genesis 15:1-6

1 After these events, the LORD’s word came to Abram in a vision, “Don’t be afraid, Abram. I am your protector [Or shield or benefactor]. Your reward will be very great.”

2 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.” 3 He continued, “Since you haven’t given me any children, the head of my household will be my heir.”

4 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.” 5 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.” 6 Abram trusted the LORD, and the LORD recognized Abram’s high moral character.

Reflection Questions

Abram’s life (later Abraham—cf. Genesis 17:3-5) might seem simple if you haven’t studied it. God promised to make him a great nation, and then gave him and his wife a son named Isaac. Easy, right? Not really. Today’s reading showed Abram struggling to wait, telling God, “I still have no children.” (In the end, Genesis 12:4 and 21:5 showed a 25-year wait for the promised child.) Genesis 15:6 provided the key to Abraham’s resilience—he “trusted the Lord.” That trust kept him going.

  • Today’s story wasn’t just about one couple who lived long ago. The apostle Paul quoted Genesis 15:6 in a letter to non-Jewish Christian converts in the province of Galatia (cf. Galatians 3:6-9). He said God blesses all who believe as Abraham did. In what ways have you learned to see your resilient journey of faith, not as an isolated, individual journey, but as part of a great procession of faithful people reaching back at least to Abraham?
  • Are there ways in which you need to trust God because you do not see particular promises or life directions “paying off” immediately? What opportunities do you have to invest time, energy or material goods in ways that will help others and build God’s kingdom in the future, even if you are not around to collect the award(s) or hear their gratitude expressed?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, teach me how to view life through the lens of eternity, as you do. Help me to trust that there are vast spheres that lie way beyond my immediate ability to see or understand. Amen.

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Donna Karlen

Donna Karlen

Donna Karlen serves in Communications at Church of the Resurrection by creating and managing social media content.

Resilience.

Certainly Abramam displayed it in waiting so many years for the child promised to him and Sara. But if you think the “geriatric parents” journeyed through all those years of waiting for God’s promised miracle without feeling any doubts, discouragement or downright despair, then you might be subscribing to the wrong definition of resilience.

When I got the call from my brother 12-1/2 years ago that my dad had died, I first thought I didn't hear him right. My mom is the one we expected to join my brother in heaven – we already had lost almost every wonderful part of her to Alzheimer’s. But my dad? He had just completed a physical and passed it with flying colors. At 76 and full of vim and vigor, he was supposed to have many years of life ahead (including making many more memories with his grandkids – my kids)! Two days later my mom joined the love of her life, and my brother and I began planning a double funeral.

And I turned into super woman – or so I thought… I had two children with busy school and extra-curricular activities, my husband and I both worked and I was volunteer queen at two schools. Ahead of me over the next 30 days after burying my heroes were a yearbook to put together, parent newsletters to write, school carnival games and activities to plan, helping my daughter create a Michelle Kwan clay figure complete with costume and skates – I don’t even remember all the things I was involved in! So after the initial collapse and cry on my laundry room floor when I hung up from my brother’s phone call, I pretty much pushed aside all those inconvenient stages of grief.

I was being resilient, right?!

Not so much.

About three years later a couple of unrelated and relatively minor incidents caused my unresolved grief to hit me right smack in the face. And I found myself on the floor more than once sobbing “why?!” and being really mad at God. Let's just go straight to grief stages "anger" and "depression" full force and both at the same time.

Well obviously my faith and I were not so resilient.

Except that it was and I am.

What resilience is not:

  • Pushing aside and not dealing with your feelings
  • Telling yourself (or listening to anyone else tell you) to just pull yourself up by the old boot straps and not to cry (or yell or cuss or…)
  • Suppressing, ignoring or keeping what you’re going through to yourself and not talking with family, friends, a therapist, all of the above
  • Feeling you can't be angry about what happened – including being mad at God (guess what? He can take it)
  • Just being busy

With help from a therapist, I was able to move through the intensity of my anger and depression. But even now a song or a McDonald’s hamburger or my peony bushes in bloom (from my parents’ garden) will bring forth both a smile and a tear. I think about and miss them every day. And I consider that a blessing because it means they were pretty amazing parents and grandparents.

As for my faith? Even in my anger at God, I turned to God. I prayed – while I was on the floor and when I got up… again and again.

Resilience.

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