“…Abraham is our father in God’s sight because he trusted God as the one who gives life to the dead and calls nonexistent things into existence. For he was past hope, yet in hope he trusted that he would indeed become a father to many nations, in keeping with what he had been told, “So many will your seed be.” His trust did not waver when he considered his own body–which was as good as dead, since he was about a hundred years old–or when he considered that Sarah’s womb was dead too. He did not by lack of trust decide against God’s promises. On the contrary, by trust he was given power as he gave glory to God, for he was fully convinced that what God had promised He could also accomplish.” – Romans 4:17-21
If God sees and considers Abraham as my father, then it seems He would expect me to be like him. A child usually takes on the characteristics of their parents; therefore, it seems God would want me to have the same trust in Him as Abraham did. Since Abraham believed God gives life to the dead–which was his body–and calls nonexistent things into existence–which would have been his seed–then I need to believe the same things. I know He gives life to the dead because He raised Jesus from the dead. He calls nonexistent things into existence because His Word has creative power. He spoke the universe and all creation into being.
But how did Abraham know God gives life to the dead? Had he actually seen or experienced that when he decided to believe Him? How did he know He calls nonexistent things into existence? The Scriptures had not yet been written. In reading over his story in Genesis 15, we can see that he had some powerful encounters with God. Obviously, he believed God because of his relationship with Him. He had come to know and trust Him. However, he was still human. Later, he made the mistake of sleeping with Hagar, so even in trusting God, he didn’t fully understand His ways. I take comfort in knowing that God redeemed Abraham’s mistake as he was trusting Him to the best of his ability and understanding. So surely He will redeem my mistakes, because I trust Him and want to obey Him in all I say and do.
Though Abraham was past having any hope in the natural of his promise coming to pass, yet he chose to trust with hope that indeed it would. Hope and trust are choices we have to make regardless of our circumstances. In fact, if our circumstances seem favorable to our promises coming to pass, it doesn’t require us to have hope and trust. Perhaps we would trust in our circumstances rather than in God. We are called to walk in faith. To walk by faith and not by sight is something we must choose to do, for it goes against our natural tendencies.
Abraham did not deny the fact that because of their age and the condition of their bodies it was impossible, in the natural, to have a child. He took that fact fully into account. Yet his trust did not waver because of the facts. I love it though, that in this passage, God never mentions that Abraham did try to help Him out, and in the process created Ishmael. It is as though God totally forgot or chose to overlook that. God knows the heart, so I believe Abraham must have thought he was doing the right thing when he did that. Still, God credits Abraham as righteous in His sight. He is amazing!
Abraham could have looked at the reality of his situation and decided it was too difficult for God to make good on His promise, but he didn’t. As he chose to trust God in spite of the facts, and worshiped God in the midst of what looked like an impossible situation, God empowered him to believe and stand firm in his faith. When we do likewise, He will do the same for us! God cannot lie, so He will eventually make good on His promises. The question we often struggle with is, when? Abraham waited about 25 years for his promise to be fulfilled. Obviously, God requires not only faith in Him and His Word, but also patience!