Safe Place with Ruth Graham

Safe Place with Ruth Graham


When the Promises Fade

posted by Ruth Graham

God told Abraham at a time when he was way too old to have kids that he was, in fact , going to have a son and, through that son Abraham would be the father of many nations. That was certainly big news! Bodacious news! Ridiculous….and in human terms, impossible. But with God all things are possible.

However, God took His own sweet time fulfilling that promise. He apparently wasn’t in a hurry as we humans tend to be. God took so long (over 10 years) fulfilling the promise that Abraham and Sarah decided to help God out! (Don’t we love to do that?) They leaned on their own wisdom – and at Sarah’s suggestion, Abraham had sex with Sarah’s servant and a baby resulted. But it was not the child of the covenant – the one promised. The child was the product of human wisdom and impatience. (How often have we done much the same? Disappointed by our expectations of how God ought to act on our behalf. Our expectations fit our thinking, not God’s.)

The story is a rich one. This family is the root of both Christianity and Islam.

I am not making a commentary on Islam. That is not my purpose today…

I want to think about God’s promises and our repsonse.

We are told Abraham believed God – it was counted as righteousness for him. (Genesis 15:6) Later in Romans (4:20) we are told Abraham “staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God.” God promised and Abrahma believed. That was the God-pleasing response.  So then why did he take Sarah’s suggestion to “fix it”? We could suggest that old Abraham might have wanted sex with a younger woman. Or perhaps he was tired of Sarah’s nagging. We don’t know those details…we can only surmise. And it can be a slippery slope…but these people were humans just like us. They had expectations God would fulfill His promise to them which was right to do – but on their timetable. They put God in a box. When He didn’t fit their expectations they got antsy then they  took matters in their own hands. They acted in haste. (Now, I will admit 1o years is a long time.) They didn’t trust God implicitly. (God would put Abraham to the test later.)

I enjoy using my imagination with the biblical characters. Abraham and Sarah were old – too old for kids.  They had given up. This promise triggerd long forgotten longings for a child, an heir. Being practical and efficient and careful they had made legal arrangements for another, Eliezer, to be Abraham’s heir. Now God changed the trajectory of their lives. Now the hope and longing for a child  was front and center. Can you imagine the joy! But years went by…over 10 years! Had it been a cruel joke? Was God toying with Abraham? (Do we somethimes feel that way?)

We must learn the bottom line is that God is trustworthy. He will do what He says He will do – even if we don’t understand and it looks impossible. Even if we have to wait. Circumstances, time, friends, family can create doubt in us. But God remains true.

Do we even know God’s promises? He has told us He has given us “great and precious promises” (Jeremiah 33:3) Do we know what they are?  Do we even talk with God about our longings? Do we think He cares? Do we go about our days not aware of God’s activity in our lives? Have we given up on what we believed was a promise years ago? Has it faded into the distant past because of time or neglect or weariness or questions? Have we lost hope? Is their a tremor in our heart? Do we doubt God is able?

These are good questions to ask oursleves. God has not changed. God cares about our repsonse to His promises. Will we believe?  Will we doubt and try to fulfill them our way in our time? Will we rebel and go our own way? Will we refuse to believe?

The Bible is full of God’s promises to His people. Read it and find them. Claim them for yourself and believe He is able.

 



  • http://ruthgrahamandfriends.com Ruth Graham

    Dear Judith,

    Welcome to Beliefnet!

    I have been travelling extensively and only got your comment this AM. Forgive the delay.

    You ask many good questions and I am not sure I have the answers for you.

    I am sorry for the hurts you have encountered. It saddens Jesus. He is with you, loving you, being hurt alongside of you.

    We live in a fallen world with fellow fallen creatures. Until the Lord comes to claim His people, there will be ostracisim, racism, bitterness, rancor, jealousy, misunderstanding… There is much we cannot change in our culture but we can work on our own hearts and spheres of influence. We cannot allow ourselves to become bitter and angry. Or to play the victim. When we are wounded, we need to offer the grace we wish they would give to us.

    I know divorced people are often ostracized. I think things are getting better but some denominations hold a more rigid view. I simply stay away from them!

    I have never felt/believed Jesus didn’t speak to the woman at the well. The Bible says He did. He had a long conversation with her and as a result she was the first female evangelist!

    My sister, Anne Graham Lotz, has a new book out: Wounded By God’s People. I think it might speak to your heart.

    God bless you.

    Ruth

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Judith

    Hello Ms. Graham:

    I just joined Beliefnet today and wish to take the opportunity to ask you a couple questions and ask for your response. 1) What does the divorced Christian woman do about not being ostracized by the Baptist and other denominations? Why is it we are made to feel that Jesus did not really stop by and speak to the woman at the well? And why is it that white women in church as well as the world as a whole, behave as if black women have no value, or certainly not as much value as the white woman? This is not about paranoia; there is an air of superiority which I sense. Also, I have been experiencing in white churches, white women who resent well-educated black women and react to same as if there is nothing they can possibly learn from such a black woman? I have and continue to have these experiences and I am increasingly wondering when it will be understood that Jesus died for all, not just some? Thanks and blessings,

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