I sat down on my bed to listen to the doctor’s voicemail. With eager anticipation, I envisioned the beginning of my life as a mother. But my dreams were quickly dashed as the message played: “I’m sorry to say that we got your results, and this round of treatment failed.”
I curled up in a ball under my comforter, weeping out of hurt, frustration, and anger. I had failed to conceive a child. My confident, arrogant, “high success rates” reproductive endocrinologist had failed. And I was quick to wonder, “Has God failed?”
My seemingly unanswered prayers and unfulfilled desires to build a family led me to question God’s sovereignty. And as the pains of infertility continued to increase after additional “failures,” my trust in the Lord felt like a tug-of-war. On one end were feet firmly planted in my faithful Father; on the other end were feet treading cautiously under the umbrella of past human let-downs.
I had wrongly placed the Lord in the same category of those who had broken promises to me in my past, people who had failed me: the ex-boyfriend who cheated on me, the friends who shared secrets they promised to never disclose, the co-workers who stepped on me to get ahead.
The common ground with these broken promises comes from a powerful force that hijacks our intentions: sin.
Sin turns us away from God, making us natural enemies. Sin directs us to seek our own glory and doesn’t submit to God (John 5:44; Romans 8:7). Sin excels at promise-breaking. Even in the most trusting relationships, we may find it challenging to wholeheartedly trust.
There is only One whom we can fully trust: our Lord. God is incapable of lying, deceiving, and selfishness (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). We can trust the Lord because there is no evil in him (James 1:13). Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not human, that He should lie, not a human being, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?” He is a promise keeper and promise fulfiller. It’s His specialty!
God’s Word sings of His promise-keeping character over and over again, especially through some of the most flawed human beings, each bringing glory back to God. With Noah, who later got drunk and was shamed in front of his family, God promised to never destroy humanity again by flood. With Moses, who at first hesitated to obey and then disobeyed a direct command, He promised to lead His people out of slavery into the Promised Land. With David, who committed adultery and ordered a man to his death, He promised to build a house under his name and establish his kingdom forever.
Abraham provides one of the best examples in Scripture of God’s faithfulness to His people. The Lord promised to build a nation through Abraham by making his descendants as numerous as the stars (Genesis 12:2; 15:5). But how? Abraham and his wife Sarah were far past child-bearing age. But what is impossible for man is possible with God (Luke 18:27). The Lord fulfilled his promise to this elderly couple with the birth of Isaac, and Abraham’s full trust in the Father produced a credit of righteousness for him and all his believing descendants (Genesis 15:4-6). Condemnation was eliminated for this former rebel because of his unwavering faith and obedience (Genesis 22:18).
But Abraham’s trust was tested by a disturbing command. God told Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice, and he agreed without question or refusal (Genesis 22:1-18). Abraham trusted God’s provision and purpose for a sacrifice, and he obeyed. After all, this same God had faithfully carried out his promise to Abraham by providing his son in the first place.
Walking up the mountain next to this father, Isaac carried the wood that would be used in his own sacrifice. Can you imagine? Surely Isaac could have overpowered his elderly father and saved himself, but Isaac trusted the Almighty by obeying and willingly laying down his life.
And then, at the most critical moment, God intervenes, providing a substitutionary ram in Isaac’s place. Isaac would live, and Abraham continued trusting his faithful Promise Keeper.
Just like Isaac willingly carried his sacrificial wood with his father beside him, so did our Savior walk in obedience to the Father with a cross on his back. Jesus became the perfect and final substitution for the world’s sin. Though the debt we owe the Lord is great, we will never have to pay it. Jesus Christ paid it through his sinless life, death, resurrection, and ascension.
So we rejoice today, because there is no other sacrifice to anticipate. Our record is spotless, our chains have been broken! The promise of eternal life is ours through faith. It is our belief in the one true Messiah that makes us right with God; no religious works, no good deeds, no being a “good person” can accomplish this. For all who believe by faith that Jesus is Lord are promised salvation and the gift of knowing God (Romans 10:9-10; Genesis 15:1).
Here’s what I love about the story of Abraham – and it’s not about the long-awaited miracle birth of Isaac: It’s the fact that God first approached Abraham, not the other way around. He is tender to approach us, He is gracious to welcome us, and He is merciful to forgive us. And He is faithful in keeping His promises to His beloved people.
Is your faith grounded in the Promise Keeper? Oh friend, how I pray that your answer would be a resounding “yes!”