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Pastor's Column

God Tests Abraham - and Us

Pastor’s Column

Second Sunday of Lent

February 28, 2021

Caravaggio, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Caravaggio, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

“God said to Abraham, take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a holocaust…” Genesis 22:2

The story of the sacrifice of Abraham is a haunting one indeed. How would you handle this situation? Suppose God had promised you a child when you and your wife were long past child-bearing years; promised, in fact, to give you descendants through this child as numerous as the stars! Now, suppose God made you wait many years before answering this prayer and you remained faithful. Then, finally, when the child was eleven years old, God commanded you to make a sacrifice of him to God (in other words, kill him). What would you do?

This may not sound like something God is going to ask of any of us, but consider the elements of the story. I think we will find that this pattern is very real and takes place in the lives of most of us at some point in our lives.

  • God makes many promises to Abraham.

  • Abraham must wait a long time before God fulfills his promises.

  • Abraham finally has a child, whom he loves dearly. God fulfills his promise to Abraham.

  • God asks something of Abraham that is almost impossible.

  • God asks something of him that is very precious and dear.

  • God asks something that Abraham is not expecting.

  • God waits until the last minute before rescuing Abraham;

  • God tests Abraham’s faith to the absolute max.

  • God rewards Abraham after this test in an incredible way.

The Lord makes many promises to us, in particular, that he wishes us to be with him in complete happiness in heaven. He promises to be with us always. We may feel very close to the Lord for a time. Then, we find he is absent, or he makes us wait a long time without that joy, or our prayers go unanswered, despite our hope. Later, our life situation may become almost impossible: the loss of a child or loved one; the loss of a job or health; receiving the opposite of what we prayed for; dryness in prayer--the list is endless.

When God asks what seems impossible, when we feel we can go no further, we remember Abraham: this is only a test. God is waiting at the end of this to bless us. Even if we aren’t as faithful as Abraham (and who is?), God sees our efforts to remain faithful in great adversity, and he will always reward them. This is only a test. God will remain faithful to me.

Father Gary


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