As I’ve been working on my next novel based on Abram’s life, what’s struck me most is the amount of time he waited for God’s promise to be fulfilled. And I realized, “Boy, someday I want to be patient like Abram.”
We don’t know from what age Abram began to follow God. Neither do we know how long he knew God had a future blessing for him.
But we know that he was born in an ancient Mesopotamian city named Ur, where the god Nanna was worshipped.
We also know from Scripture that Abram’s father, Terah, was an idolater (Joshua 24:2). And according to Jewish tradition, he even made and sold idols.
How Abram began to follow the God of Noah and Shem is a mystery with many potential answers. Genesis leaves much to the imagination.
However, Genesis does tell us that he was 75 years old when the Lord told him to depart from Haran, a city in ancient Mesopotamia (according to the Apostle Stephen, this happened after Abram’s father’s death – Acts 7:4).
So, Abram and Sarai (his half-sister/wife) took Lot and all their belongings, and went into the land of Canaan, where God promised that his descendants would inherit the land.
But it wasn’t time for Abram to settle down. The Canaanites were still living there. So he kept traveling south, and because there was a famine, he went into Egypt because the Nile river sustained the Egyptians even through great droughts.
Some weird stuff then went down between the Pharaoh and Sarai, and they came back richer than before, but STILL without the child Abram was implicitly promised.
In fact, it would be another 25 years before he and Sarai had a son together!
That was well over 70 years of barrenness for Sarai.
It is no wonder that Sarai lost hope and thought maybe God would give them a child through a second wife.
Think of how useless and incapable she would have felt. Especially in a culture that weighed the importance of a wife on her ability to bear children, and even wrote barrenness as a principal legal reason for divorce!
In ancient Mesopotamia, divorce for a woman like Sarai could mean starvation. Destitution. Death. Or slavery.
And Abram could do nothing to help it, either! Because after Abram had a child with Hagar, God said, “No, that’s not the one who will inherit the blessing.”
Everything that Abram and Sarai did to try to take control of the blessing God promised failed.
Instead, God taught them to wait. In patience. To trust God’s Word, even when it seemed impossible.
That kind of trust is only birthed through long periods of waiting and dealing with real doubts.
I’ve heard it said that the opposite of faith isn’t doubt, it’s self-sufficiency.
Think about it – to have faith is to put your trust in someone else. Yet if you are putting your trust in yourself? That makes faith impossible.
So, when God says that the righteous will live by faith, what does that mean?
It means that the life God promises is only possible through a life of total dependence on him.
The problem is, we can say that we depend on God, and we can say that we trust him.
But as each day passes to another, and the cares of this life weigh heavy, does that faith remain active in our behavior? In the thoughts we tend and the habits we cultivate?
A life of active faith is a life of daily surrender to dependence and trust in God. A life of humility. A life of waiting for God to give strength, waiting for him to make things happen, waiting for him to tell us to work – and then working.
Do we really trust that God’s way will give us more joy and reward than our own way?
Do we really trust that he offers us all that we need?
Because like Abram, we aren’t first the children of our fathers, destined to inherit a worldly empire. We’re the children of the Most High God, destined to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.
That’s something worth being patient for.
Lord, give us the patience and trust of Abram. You are the source of our faith! We trust in you because we have seen you remain faithful. We have patience in your timing because we know you know all things, and that you see the perfect timing. We surrender our hold on our lives, and offer you our hearts and obedience. Strengthen us and guide us into your will. Make us pure like you are pure! Amen.
Read the story of Abram in Genesis 11:27 – Genesis 21, and consider how you would have responded in each scenario.