When our faith is strong, we’re better able to cope with life — even when difficult things are happening to us and around us. But when our faith is weak — watch out! In those times, we tend to feel more anxious, angry, and disappointed with our circumstances.
As we learned from an episode in Abraham’s life found in Genesis 12, not even heroes of the Bible are immune from reduced faith in God, periods of weakness, and bad decision-making.
It’s important to point out that Abraham’s weakened faith in this chapter preceded an awesome experience: God himself promised Abraham that his descendants would outnumber the stars in the sky and the grains of sand on all the world’s beaches. Seriously, if God had shown himself to you in such a way, would you need reassurance ever again that the Lord is taking care of you, providing for your needs, and keeping his promises? Perhaps we would respond by saying, “Of course not!” But also, we shouldn’t forget that none of us has ever walked in Abraham’s sandals, and all of us can probably recall numerous occasions when our faith in God was low — despite all the amazing things he previously had done for us.
Well, Abraham’s weakened faith coincided with a famine — surely a difficult circumstance. It shows, however, that the Lord allows not-so-pleasant things to happen to us even when we closely follow him and obey his commands. One thing that stuck out in Pastor Scott’s message was the key detail that Abraham departed the famine-ravaged land for Egypt — and that a flight to that country in Scripture often meant a move toward the world and its solutions, rather than a focus on the Lord and his solutions.
It certainly rings true, given that Abraham immediately made a really bad decision: Looking to save his own skin, he convinced his wife to pretend they were brother and sister so that the Egyptians — who were likely to take Sarah from him — wouldn’t be tempted to kill him. Doesn’t that sound oddly familiar? Not that any of us have been in such a situation in today’s world — but many of us can probably recall times when we acted out of fear, and perhaps even sinned in the process, instead of trusting God for the outcome. And again, you’d think someone like Abraham who experienced what God personally showed him wouldn’t need to make decisions out of fear ever again — but he did. And we certainly do, too.
Oh, and then came the consequences! Besides the awful plagues, there was what had to have been a humiliating confrontation from Pharaoh, who by then figured out Abraham’s scheme — and you had the pagan telling the child of Israel, “You sinned!” What a gut punch that had to be. Of course, we likely can relate to this also: How many times can we recall our bad and faithless decisions resulting in terrible — even embarrassing — circumstances? Like, crawl-under-a-rock, cartons-of-eggs-on-our-faces humiliation.
But as Pastor Scott also pointed out, God has a plan even when we mess up. Truth is, the Lord is infinitely bigger than our worst sins. He’s able to take us from where we are and still do great things. God did that with Abraham when Pharaoh let him go, and again, all of us can probably relate to the Lord getting us out of sticky situations — even when we deserved the worst results.