Summary: What do we do when everything that formed the basis for our faith seems to crumble? This sermon looks at Abraham, the Father of the Faithful, and his faith in the face of the illogical, impossible valleys God takes us through.
12 January 2021
The death of a loved one is the most traumatic experience we go through. It is something we know must happen at some time. But when it does, it hits you like an express train: nothing prepares you for it - especially when it is unexpected, illogical, unreasonable, unfathomable, inexplicable.
It throws our minds and our lives into turmoil.
And all we are left with is our memories.
Memories of a protective husband who was like a gentle giant - caring, concerned, attentive to little things; memories of a father who was always there - present and active in your lives; caring - waking you up with your breakfast prepared; blessing you as you drove off to varsity or to work.
Memories. What a blessing to have positive, fond memories to hold onto during this time of turmoil - while your hearts and minds struggle to make sense of it all.
When I asked the family what was his favourite text, Joshua was able to fetch Tony’s bible and turn to Rm 5 and point to verses that were underlined.
I would like to share these with you this morning:
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith[b] into this grace in which we stand, and we[c] rejoice[d] in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Vs 1 starts out with the word ‘therefore’ and then makes reference to us having been justified by Faith. The rest of the passage we read outlines the outcome of faith.
However, we need to note that, when referring to faith, he is referring to his earlier discussion of Abraham, the father of the faithful, in the previous chapter.
It was this Abraham who was faced with the unknowable, the unfathomable, the impossible:
Three huge tests of faith –
The command to leave his homeland on a journey that made no sense: there was no logic to it; it was unknowable, unfathomable and impossible.
The promise that he would have a son: there was no logic to it; it was unknowable, unfathomable and impossible.
The command to sacrifice his son: there was no logic to it; it was unknowable, unfathomable and impossible.
Cognitively he could listen to and accept God’s leading:
To accept that God was leading him to a new country – although it was unreasonable and illogical
To accept that God was promising him a family –
although it was unreasonable and illogical
To accept that God was asking him to sacrifice his son – although it was unreasonable and illogical
Each time he could not believe what he was hearing; what God was asking of him.
But his doubts; his lack of understanding; dare I say - his unbelief - did not make him waver – cognitively he held on to the promises of God even though he could not see beyond his unbelief; even though he couldn’t see beyond the darkness of the unknowable, the unfathomable, the impossible. “He grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God.”
He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness[b] of Sarah's womb. 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.
And what has God promised?
Poem by Annie Johnson Flint
WHAT GOD HATH PROMISED??God hath not promised skies always blue,?Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;?God hath not promised sun without rain,?Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.??God hath not promised we shall not know?Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;?He hath not told us we shall not bear?many a burden, many a care.??God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,?Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;?Never a mountain rocky and steep,?Never a river turbid and deep??But God hath promised strength for the day,?Rest for the labour, light for the way,?Grace for the trials, help from above,?Unfailing sympathy, undying love
What has God promised?
10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.