I have been reading through the book of Romans and have been blown away by this letter to the church at Rome. It is hard to imagine someone today having the kind of authority Paul had to write such a letter. Chapter 1 is so full of scandalous activity that most churches would refuse to read it to their congregation. Yet it is full of truth for today and even the most wild details are applicable to today’s culture, two thousand years later.
Chapter 4 was my focus for today. I ran across this phrase “In hope against hope he believed.” You may be like me this morning, in need of some hope. Paul is recalling the life and faith of the patriarch, Abraham. I love to study Abraham’s life. His life shows us the real struggle of trusting and obeying a God you cannot see. Abraham made some missteps along the way, which only proves that he was human just like us. Here is the passage that I read this morning and see if it encourages you the way it did me.
“ In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. Therefore it was also credited to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:18-22 NASB
A few encouraging thoughts about the passage. Abraham had been promised by God that he would be the father of a great nation, but Abraham had no children. Abraham was 75 years old when he began journeying with God. Abraham was excited to see God’s promise fulfilled, but God’s timing was different than Abrahams. God waited 25 years to allow a son to be born to Abraham and Sarah. Yet, they still believed God. If you go back and read the account in Genesis; you see how God would randomly show up to reaffirm His promise. Twenty-five years is a long time, especially if you are old and crusty at the end. In human terms, they were well beyond the possibility of child rearing. If they did have a child, how on earth could it be physically and mentally normal. It seemed like a real good time to give up hope and turn your back on God. But God had other plans.
God waited to show off His power in an impossible situation. He made sure that He would and could get the credit for what He was about to do in the 100 year old man. Verse 20 says that Abraham never wavered in faith, but grew strong. This is critical to our hope. The object of your faith must be immovable and powerful enough to never crumble in the insurmountable circumstances. At 100 years old, Abraham would have doubted his own reproductive system, Sarah’s child birthing ability, and any other side plans that he had already tried to generate his own offspring. Abraham knew it was out of his control, but in hope against hope God was about do a work.
I love verse 21, “And being assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.” God will always keep His promises. Abraham knew it, even though he hadn’t seen it yet. Abraham had faith and hope in God, when life said it was impossible and could never work. Oh how God delivered big time in Abraham’s life. 25 years of waiting and God kept His promise. Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah.
For some reading this, you are desperately seeking hope in your dark situation. It seems impossible and your life experiences has made you jaded. You have trusted and hoped before, but they only let you down, which only clouds your perspective. Something in you wants to hope again, but your scared. You are afraid it will hurt you again, let you down, or expose your insecurities. I have one question, “Who or what is your hope in?” If your hope is in a better job, bigger home, nicer car, more money, better benefits, cooler friends, or a different spouse; they might bring happiness for a while, but will ultimately let you down in one way or another. These things might not be bad, but they are temporary. They aren’t made to last forever. Your hope and faith must be in something above the temporal. That is where God comes in. He is the only one who can handle that kind of pressure. He is the only one who can maintain the constant tension of being the object of someone’s desire. The bible is full of so many promises and He has kept everyone. He never forgets any of them. And He hasn’t forgot about you either. He made you and knew you before you were born. He hasn’t given up on you either, although you have been trying to live as though he doesn’t exist. He is for you and will never forsake you. He is also working hard in the background of your life and He is waiting for you to run to Him so He can show you what He is up to in your life.
God is still in the business of working the possible in the impossible. He still brings dead things to life. He still makes us hopeful because He is so faithful and good. He doesn’t quit although you may feel all is lost. This is not some prosperity gospel though where you get your wish list. God is after your heart. He wants to be in control of your life so that He can show you what living is all about. When you give Him control, you will find a hope and faith that is beyond description. You will find that your life is full, even when the world says your empty. That is good to hear from time to time. I know I needed it. I have no idea who this is for, maybe it was just for me. But if this spoke to you, I would love to hear about it. It encourages me to hear what God is doing in your life.
Place all your faith and hope in God through His Son Jesus Christ. You will still have bad days, but you will have a joy in your soul no matter how bad it gets. Grace and Peace to you as you hope against hope.