In that day, going into Canaan, the place God was leading Abraham, was like going into Indian territory in the Old Wild West. There was no law; it was the survival of the fittest. It was not a land filled with good crops, a lot of it was barren wilderness. Nevertheless, God told Abraham “if you go that way, I will bless you and make you a blessing.”
Abraham decided to go the path God directed him and, indeed, he did walk right into trials and difficulty. Abraham was 75 when he left his homeland. That is a time to retire, not think about going to a difficult place. The trials were the kind of thing that would challenge his relationship with God, challenge his thinking. “Am I walking the right way? Did I really hear your voice leading me this way?”
One of Abraham’s biggest challenges was “DELAY.” The promised son that he and Sarah had been promised didn’t appear to be coming. So, they decided to use Hagar, Sarah’s servant, to give them a son. Actually, what they were doing was trying to make it easier on themselves.
The bottom line was: they failed to trust"God's Perfect Time" for their son, Isaac, to be born, which was when Abraham was 100 years old. God’s promises are always fulfilled.
A former pastor of mine, the late David Berkheimer, made the following statement in one of his sermons: “I believe with all my heart that the greatest trials of life are the obedient things God calls us to do.”He pointed out that it is difficult to show that the trials we sometimes face are often in the path God is leading us.
I personally have to agree with Pastor Berkheimer’s statement. One of the most difficult trials of my life came as a result of walking down the path God was leading me. It definitely took me into barren land - a place I had never been before. There were days that I felt as though He was leading me among giants, before walled cities, as well as a Red Sea in front of me with no way of crossing it. And yes, there were times I felt as though I was being attacked by the native Indians, gunslingers, gamblers, outlaws, gangs, and gunfighters – just like the days recorded in the history of the Wild West.
It would have been nice had God laid out every little detail for this journey from the start, but then that would not have been a walk of faith, would it? Meanwhile, according to the Bible, I was supposed to be "joyful."
Say what? Yes, that is exactly what it says in James 1:1-2: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (NIV)
I confess I had a hard time doing this. I learned that being joyful had nothing to do with my feelings. Though difficult, I would do it all over again, even with delays, and the trauma of the Wild West adventure into the unknown.
It was there I met God and learned to trust Him in a way I never had before.
1. Does Abraham and Sarah’s story relate to your own life? If so, how?
2. When faced with obstacles, what is your first emotional response and why?
3. List ways you might better deal with delay and obstacles in order to live out your purpose?
God spoke to Abraham and said: “Leave your country, your family, and your father’s home for a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation and bless you. I’ll make you famous; you’ll be a blessing. I’ll bless those who bless you; those who curse you I’ll curse. All the families of the earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1-3 MESG)