Genesis 22:1-2 – Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied. Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."
I am intrigued by the story of Abraham and Sarah, recorded in the book of Genesis. They had waited a lifetime for a son, and then God asked of Abraham the ultimate: to offer a sacrifice to God — and not just any sacrifice would do — it was to be their son Isaac! Was this some sort of cruel joke? How could God? What right had He to give, only to take back? There are times when circumstances and situations demand that we "give up" something with which God has blessed our lives. How are we at surrendering our prized possessions?
I have to admit that "giving up" has been commonplace in my personal pilgrimage. Yet even after lots of practice, "giving up" is not something that comes easily. Facing the death of my dad as a child brought home early the lesson that nothing in this life lasts forever. By the time I was thirteen years old, life had demanded my dad, my family and the place I called home. What else of the things that mattered to me would life demand I surrender?
My health was the next thing I'd lose. In just a few years freedom of movement was something I could only dream about or reflect on. Everyone can see the changes in the external, but few know the internal battles that rage at times as I grasp for my dignity, clutching at straws, watching as one by one they slip through my fingers as I struggle desperately to cling to that last thread of hope.
I've learned that life can demand most of the things that matter to us: loved ones die, relationships grow cold, and health fails. I've learned too that there is one thing that life cannot take — our faith. There is an old spiritual that says, "The world didn't give it to me and the world can't take it away." Now I'm not naive; I know there are times and circumstances that really shake our faith, and tempt us to abandon the God we serve.
Sometimes when I'm going through tough times people will ask, "How can you believe in God?" My response is always the same. In tough times we either run from God or we run to Him. Over the course of my life, I've learned that to run from God is futile, but He is faithful to see us through. His grace is sufficient for every loss I've sustained.
I've learned that when life takes what matters, we need to do the best with what we have left. Yes, even Christians need to mourn our losses, and maybe, for a time, mourn what might have been — but we must not get stuck there.
Prayer: Father, help us in all of life to recognize that the only security we can find is in You alone. Amen.
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