Against All Hope

February 3, 2019

We all have encountered obstacles and difficulties in life.  Some of these were very challenging and brought some sort of hopelessness. Because we did not see relief coming quickly, we found ourselves in the very situation as that of King David, where he felt so abandoned and thus cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent” (Psalm 22:1-2).  But God was faithful and he did not abandon us, but delivered us from our trials.

Indeed, there are situations when sufferings come like a flood; they come one after another. There is just no place where we can take shelter and be spared from these sufferings. This was the case of Job when he was tested to the fullest. Not only were his properties lost, but his children all perished. As if these were not enough, his own life was threatened as he was inflicted with painful sores. In spite of these, however, he found hope in the Lord and confidently said, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15). Regardless of what may come, no one should lose hope in the Lord.

Even Abraham was not spared from trials. While God himself promised that Abraham will become the father of many nations, his wife, Sarah, was barren and they could not have a child through which such promise could be fulfilled. When he was younger, his wife concocted a scheme where Abraham could have a child though her servant Hagar.  However, God wanted him to have a son through his own wife. Though he was advancing in age, Abraham remained hopeful. This hope was beautifully presented when the apostle Paul said of Abraham, “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be’” (Rom. 4:18).

Overcoming the odds is a challenge in itself. However, through what Abraham had experienced, we can learn some valuable lessons. The first thing that he did to beat the odds was to be strengthened in the faith. “Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead--since he was about a hundred years old--and that Sarah’s womb was also dead” (Rom. 4:19). Abraham’s case was a double whammy in that the problem was not only him being an old man, but that his wife’s womb was as good as dead. But Abraham’s faith prevailed. We too can beat the odds if we have faith. Jesus said, “Have faith in God… I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24).

The next thing Abraham did was not to waver in unbelief. We are told that though there was a delay in the fulfilment of the promise, “yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God” (Rom. 4:20). Just like Abraham, we need to be fully convinced that God is God. We cannot afford to be double-minded. In confronting the Israelites, the prophet Elijah said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him” (1 King 18:21).

Abraham was also persuaded that God is all powerful. We are told that the reason he did not waver in unbelief was that he was “being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised” (Rom. 4:21). Indeed, God is omnipotent and Jesus affirmed this truth when he said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26).

The last thing that Abraham did was to give glory to God (Rom. 4:20). When we confront problems and we give glory to God, we are helped by the Lord. The apostle Paul said, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17). There is no problem too big for us to handle if the Lord is with us. And because he gets the glory, he will fight the battle for us.

Abraham’s experience should encourage us to trust in God fully. While problems may come one after the other, we can overcome them all if we do not shrink in our faith and are persuaded that God is able to save. And after everything has been said and done, let us give glory to God who gives us the victory. Praise the Lord!