Guest contributor: Ed Trego
“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves.’ So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him.” (Genesis 12:1-4)
As Christians we are called to follow the Lord. If we are to respond to that call we must trust in God. We must learn to place our desires and our will below that of God’s. That is not an easy task. We are taught from childhood to be self-reliant and to make our own way. Placing our way secondary to God’s way is not something we find easy to do. However, there is ample evidence throughout the bible that those who do so are rewarded through the blessings of God.
If someone you trusted asked you to leave everything you knew, what would you do? Leave behind your family, friends, and home; take your spouse and go to a place you had never heard of. Would you go? Would you even consider going? If you decided to go how would you explain your decision to friends and family”
“Well, the person who told me to go is someone I really trust,” you might say.
“Really, and who is this person and how do you know he will do what he says?”, you would probably be asked. Your friends and family, maybe even your spouse, would be quite skeptical of your decision. They might even seek professional help to convince you of the foolishness of your decision.
But that is exactly what God asked Abram to do. And Abram placed his trust in God. He took his wife Sarai, packed up everything they had and went where God told him to go. The story of Abram and Sarai can be found in Genesis, chapter 12 through 25. With nothing but trust in God they left the land of their family and followed where the Lord led them. No questions, no “what ifs”, just the faith that God would take care of them. The land Abram was going to was totally unknown to him and he would have had no way of knowing what he might find there. But his trust in God enabled him to follow God’s will without question.
I have a hard time picturing someone today responding as Abram did. Most of us would want a lot more information and some assurances of what we were expected to do in this new place. Would we be welcomed or would we have to fight our way in? How long will it take us to get there. How will we eat and live on the trip? What can we expect once we get there? Question after question after question would arise. But would we have the faith to go”
Abram’s trust in God was rewarded not only in his blessings but in earthly wealth. We are told in Genesis 13:2 that Abram became very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. Abram had done what God had asked and God delivered on His promises, as He always does. If we accept God and trust in Him without questioning why, he will always keep his word to us. It’s when we refuse to trust in God and try to do things our own way that we get into trouble. God will let us lead the way if we want, even though he knows full well that we will head straight into a ditch without his help. He wants to show us the way, but won’t force us to follow Him. The choice is ours.
But God was not yet through with Abram. He established a covenant with him, promising him that, even though he had been childless, his own son would be his heir and that his descendants would be as the stars in the sky. “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.” (Genesis 17:4-5) Having your named changed by God is a indication of the importance of what you have done in faith to God. Remember, Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter and made him the rock upon which he built his church.
He also told Abraham that his descendants would be slaves in a land that was not theirs for four hundred years, but that they would eventually be freed and led into a land flowing with milk and honey. This foretold the Israelites slavery in Egypt and the sojourn to the promised land. Again Abraham accepted God’s word without question. Once again God would keep his promises. Abraham’s descendants would suffer cruel slavery under the Egyptians, but would be brought to freedom and become the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people.
If we were told that our family would suffer slavery, but would eventually be free and receive many blessings, how would we react? I suspect many of us would say, “No thanks.” We would choose to go on about our lives never knowing what God had in store for us. Once we refuse God’s guidance, we also refuse any blessings that God had intended for us as reward for our faith. If we wish to receive God’s blessings we must be willing to accept his will for our lives.
God would once again test the faith and loyalty of Abraham. “He said, ‘Take your son, your only begotten son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (Genesis 22:2). As if he hadn’t been through enough to prove his trust of God, Abraham was now asked to sacrifice his only son to God as a burnt offering. Yet once again Abraham trusted God without question and was prepared to accept God’s will. I can’t imagine the pain he endured during his trip to Moriah to sacrifice Isaac to God.
But God would not allow Isaac to be sacrificed. Once Abraham made ready for the sacrifice an angel of the Lord intervened and a ram was provided for the sacrifice instead. God would not allow the evil of human sacrifice. But even in this, Abraham demonstrated to God he trusted enough to do whatever God asked of him, accepting that God would never ask him to do evil. Even if he didn’t understand the good to come of his action, he accepted that it was the only outcome God would allow.
Abraham was blessed by God throughout his life because of his trust in God. He died at the age of one hundred seventy-five and was still in good health when he died. He was buried next to Sarah, his wife. His entire life was lived in trust of God, regardless of the challenges and tests he had to endure. This is the trust God wants from all of us in our lives. Unfortunately it seems that this kind of trust is virtually non-existent in our world today.
The book of Daniel, chapter three, tells of another great test of trust in God. King Nebuchadnezzar had made an image of gold that the people were required to worship. Whoever refused would be thrown into a fiery furnace. Three Israelites, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to fall down and worship the golden image. The king made ready to have them thrown into the furnace and demanded to know who the God was that would deliver them such a fate. They responded, “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.” (Daniel 3:17)
Their response infuriated Nebuchadnezzar, who had the furnace heated to seven times the normal temperature before having them bound and thrown into the furnace. The three walked around in the flames praising God. When the king saw what was happening, he called them from the furnace and found that the flames had not even singed a hair and there was no smell of the fire about them. The king then made a decree that anyone who spoke against the God of the Israelites would be torn limb from limb. Through their trust in God Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not only protected from the flames but won the trust and honor of the king.
Today it’s sometimes difficult to get someone to even go to Mass on Sunday as God told us to do in the third commandment. Even then, many walk in at the last minute and leave as soon as possible. If they don’t trust God enough to follow the relatively simple command to keep holy the Sabbath, how can they ever trust enough to know that God would protect them from a fiery furnace? Would we have enough trust to know that even if it were God’s will to allow us to perish in the furnace, He would still be with us and bring us to paradise with Him”
“And a poor widow came, and put in two copper coins, which make a penny. And He called his disciples to him, and said to them, ‘ Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all who are contributing to the treasury. For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living.” (Mark 12:41-44) Jesus blessed the widow who gave only a penny to the offering not because of the amount of her gift, but because of what that gift meant to her.
Many today, as in Jesus’ day, give from their abundance rather than their need. If your contribution isn’t causing you to make sure it is part of your budget instead of just what you have left over, perhaps you should reconsider. God will provide; do you trust Him enough to give of your need as the widow did”.
In our lives today we trust in many things; our family, our friends, our priests, our doctors, and even our political leaders. Mostly, however, we seem to trust only in ourselves. How many of us trust in God enough to willingly undergo hardship for Him? Would we understand and trust that God wills only good for us even though we may not understand the reasons at the time? The trust shown by Abraham, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and the poor widow who gave of her need are the examples we should follow. Pray for the strength to trust in God as they did.
“Trust in the Lord for ever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” (Isaiah 26:4)