Strong in the Faith—Part 1
Originally published in Issue 85 of Calvary Chapel Magazine
In the story of Abraham and Sarah, this childless couple waited many years for God to fulfill His promise of bringing them a son—through whom Abraham would become the father of many nations. The patriarch became an example for us of standing firm in his faith.
And being not weak in faith, he [Abraham] considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he [God] had promised, he [God] was able also to perform. Romans 4:19-21 (KJV)
Here Paul is talking about the subject of faith, not being weak in our faith. He gives us several keys to staying strong in our faith, looking at the example of Abraham: First, Abraham did not consider his own body now dead or the deadness of Sarah’s womb. Secondly, he did not stagger at the promises of God through unbelief. Instead, he was strong in his faith—even giving glory to God, and being fully persuaded that what God had promised, God was also able to perform.
First of all, let’s look at the negatives, the obstacles. Abraham did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old). You know, when we are looking at the promises of God, so often the first thing we consider are the difficulties, the improbabilities. We are prone to categorize things in human terms: That’s easy, that’s average, that’s difficult, or well, that is just impossible. We often carry over our limited abilities to God. So, we reason, if it’s easy for us, surely it must be easy for God. If it’s difficult for us, it must be difficult for God. If it’s impossible for us, we think, Well, don’t even bother, because it’s probably impossible for Him also. But Jesus said, “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26b).
Have faith that nothing is impossible for God
no matter what the circumstances
Also, as the Prophet Jeremiah wrote, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27). You see, difficulty must always be measured by the capacity of the agent that is doing the work. And if God is the agent doing the work, then any talk of difficulty is absurd. I mean, you can’t say, “That’s a hard one for God,” or “That’s too difficult for God.” There’s simply no such thing.
Giving God Directions
When I’m facing a rough situation, maybe a financial problem, in my mind I’m trying to figure out how to get myself out of this financial maze. Usually I think of the [magazine] sweepstakes. It’s so exciting to think maybe they will pick my number this year, and then all of my financial problems will be over.
So then my prayer becomes what I call ‘direction prayers’, where I’m asking the Lord to direct them to pick my number for the sweepstakes. But you see, what has happened is that my prayer has turned gradually from a direct prayer—such as, Lord, thank You for promising to supply all of my needs. It’s now a direction prayer, where I’m telling Him how to supply all of my needs. But you know, God doesn’t follow my directions. Now it seems to me a very simple thing to do—just to let me win the sweepstakes—but yet He doesn’t seem to want to follow my directions on how to do things. In fact, He does them very well, very proficiently, in His own way. But He doesn’t do things the way I have ordered them to be done.
The danger with that kind of thinking is that if He is not following my specific orders, then I have a tendency to say, “Well, He just doesn’t answer prayer.” Thus we fall into the deception that God does not answer our prayers. Another problem, when you’re looking at your situation trying to figure out a way by which God might be able to meet that need: You can tend to get your mind made up on how God should answer it—assuming that your way is the only way. You think, God could do it this way, and that will all come to pass.
So how can we be strong in the faith? Consider Abraham: He didn’t consider the impossibility of his own age, 100 years old, nor the deadness of Sarah’s womb—the fact that she had not been able to become pregnant through the years that they had been married. Abraham simply set those facts aside; they weren’t even a consideration to him. These human impossibilities did not cause Abraham to disbelieve God: “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief.” Have faith that nothing is impossible for God no matter what the circumstances; this is one of the keys to being strong in the faith.
All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.
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