As it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”–in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19He 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 of Sarah’s womb. 20No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.
This passage sets forth two options for us. One is wavering in faith. Another is growing strong in faith. There is no other option for those of us who follow the Lord Jesus Christ. One is the pathway of walking by sight. The other is the pathway of walking by faith. Both types of people are aware of the same promises of God. It appears that Abraham had plenty of opportunity to either grow weak (v.19) in his faith or to grow strong (v.20).
When he lied about Sarah, he was wavering in unbelief. When he heeded Sarai’s counsel about going into Hagar, he was wavering in unbelief. When he offered Isaac, he was strong in faith. This see-saw story of the “friend of God” is our story, my story, your story.
Confession: Lord, how easy it is to waver in unbelief concerning Your promises! Am I “fully convinced” that You can do what seems humanly impossible? NO!
Do I really believe that you can cause your church to grow numerically and spiritually in a substantial way? Do you I really believe that you can heal and restore troubled marriages? Do I really believe that you can reclaim the wayward teenagers from the covenant families in your church? Do I really believe that you can raise up the necessary funding to cause Your missionary enterprise to flourish? Do I really believe that you can move in the hearts of single men and women to draw them together in marriage?
How does one grow strong in faith? How do we strengthen our capacity to trust the Lord?
1. One important component of growing strong in faith is knowing what “is written” (v.17). One must know well God’s promises before you can trust them. You must know someone well before you have a greater capacity to trust them fully.
2. Another component of growing strong in faith appears to be praising and worshipping God. Abraham “grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God.” What does it look like to give glory to God?
3. Another aspect of growing strong in faith is not allowing our circumstances to dictate our emotional state and feelings. Appearances can most often be deceiving and misleading.
What do I know to be true of God from this passage?
1. God is able to do what He promises. He told me I would be a father of a multitude. Therefore it will happen even in my old age.
2. God is able to do what is humanly impossible. “He gives life to the dead.” An old couple gets pregnant and has a baby. Spiritually dead people are born again into a living hope. He speaks things into existence that do not exist. A son called ‘Laughter’ is born to an old couple.