Strengthened in Faith
I'm plugging away again at the attempt to memorize Romans. Currently I'm working on chapter 4. The nature of Abraham's faith catches my breath. What a mighty example to follow. Of course, we know from the narrative of Genesis that he also faltered; but his faith, as recorded in Romans 4, stands like the craggy, indomitable mountain peaks that soar high into the clouds to touch another world.
I love how Paul expresses it: "contrary to hope, in hope believed." There was no circumstantial evidence to affirm that his faith was well placed. In fact, the circumstances were against him: "And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb." Double deadness . . . but God had promised. And Abraham was "fully convinced that what [God] had promised, He was also able to perform."
This both challenges and exhilarates my prayer journey. "He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God." The insurmountable, contrary-to-hope impossibilities of the promise became the stepping stones of Abraham's faith. Only God could bring this promise to fruition. Abraham had tried in his own strength and in his own faulty wisdom—and had created a disaster that remains to this day. Ultimately the fulfillment of this humanly impossible promise would reveal the magnificent glory of God. His power would be displayed for all to see and acknowledge.
How often do we/I pray "safe" prayers, prayers that can or could come about through human strength and ingenuity? How often is my own faith weakened by human impossibility and daunting circumstances? But here is a model of faith that is strengthened by such things!
How can that be? What gave Abraham the impetus for such faith? I think the answer lies in verse 17 of Romans 4: "God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things that do not exist as though they did." That's the God Abraham believed in—the God who doesn't need something to work with, who creates ex nihilo; the God who can reverse the impossible, who can call forth Life from death.
I think God is calling us to walk in this kind of faith as we pray. The things He has spoken in His Word, the promises He has given, let us lay hold of them and pray them in, for the promises of God are sure. Let us, like Abraham, be fully convinced that God is able to do what He has promised. So we stand our ground, setting our faces to the wind of contrary circumstances, using the impossibilities to strengthen our faith, and call those things that do not exist as though they did—for if God has spoken, it will surely come to pass.