In a previous blog post I told the story of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that shook Alaska (and to some extent, my faith) last November. As I write this, I have the benefit of hindsight. Our home hasn’t been repaired yet, but we are in the process of securing a long-term disaster loan that was one of many answers to prayer along the way. In a sense, I’m in the light, but it wasn’t always this way.
Not long after the earthquake, it was a very dark time for my husband and me, as we looked the possibility of foreclosure square in the eye and a couple of our family members struggled with stress and anxiety about remaining in the house during literally hundreds of aftershocks in the weeks after the quake.
But Life Kept Going…
I knew God was with us, but I felt out of control, and exhausted from trying to remain positive for our family. One Saturday in the middle of December we were trying to get some things done around the house. The kids wanted a Christmas tree, which was the last thing on my mind.
As soon as the thought crossed my mind, my spirit was checked. Of course Christmas isn’t about how I feel. It’s about Christ. I rolled my eyes at my own selfishness and quietly asked for forgiveness. I remembered an advent book by Ann Voskamp that we hadn’t even started, and thought I’d gather the kids together to play catch-up.Have you ever felt exhausted from trying to stay positive for your family in a bad situation? If so, you are not alone… Click To Tweet
As they took turns reading the Bible stories that began in the Garden of Eden and worked their way through all the different ways Jesus shows up in scripture, I sent up a heart cry to God:
Please, God. I don’t know what to do. Speak to me.
Trusting God When Even When You Cannot See
My middle son began to read the account of Abraham and Isaac, when God asked Abraham to do the unthinkable: to sacrifice his only son.
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, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”Genesis 22:1-2 (NIV)
Immediately, I took note. Maybe it was something in my son’s voice, or a word or phrase, but it was the audible equivalent of words jumping off a page of the Bible. God wanted me to listen; these were His words for me. So I listened.
3 Lessons I Learned About Trusting God
I became Abraham and Isaac, trudging up the mountain, both in the dark about what was about to happen. Abraham was in the dark about how he was going to find the strength and will to plunge the knife into his own flesh and blood. As far as I know, Isaac was in the dark about the fact that he was intended to be the sacrifice.
But nonetheless, they went, trusting God every step of the way.
Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”Genesis 22:6-7 (NIV)
In the dark.
I was in the dark too. I never for a second doubted that God was good, but I had no idea how the details were going to pan out. No clue whether we would come out the other side with the funds to repair our sunken home, no clue when the relentless aftershocks would end. I couldn’t see the end of the dark emotional cloud that had settled around us. But in this story, God was showing me that it was okay. I was still walking up the mountain. This was the first lesson I learned from this story of God’s provision.
Lesson 1: Like Abraham, I needed to put one foot in front of the other, walking in the dark, trusting that along the way answers would come.
Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.Genesis 22:8 (NIV)
I think the tears started flowing when my son got to this part. God will provide… I’d heard this story countless times, but this time God was promising me something in a deeply personal way: He would provide for every single one of our needs. This wasn’t a guarantee the house would be fixed, or that at a snap of His fingers we’d become happy and look forward to the next aftershocks. But I didn’t have to worry about the details. I just needed to know that it would all be okay, and keep moving forward through the dark and into the light.
And this is just what Abraham did, right up to the point where he bound his son, and raised his knife to kill him. To kill him. I can’t even begin to imagine. And just as he did, right at the last possible moment, Abraham was told to stop, and God provided a ram suitable for the sacrifice:
Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”Genesis 22:13-14 (NIV)
The name of the place, “The Lord Will Provide,” is where we get one of the many names of God, “Jehovah Jireh.” The Almighty God who provides.
Lesson 2: His provision may (and often will) seem to come at the very last moment. But it will come.
Then I began thinking about the ram’s horns. They had to grow long enough to be caught in the thicket, years of growing in preparation. I thought about the thicket too, which had to grow for years and years to become dense enough to snag that ram by his horns. In fact, the details that went into the planning of this divine moment of provision were so many and so specific that it would blow your mind to try and think them all through.
So I came to think – I might be in the dark, still walking up the mountain, but God’s provision for Abraham and Isaac didn’t come at the moment when Abraham saw the ram.
God’s provision was in the works years before Abraham was even asked to sacrifice his son.
Lesson 3: God has already provided for my future needs.
His name is “I AM” – not “I WILL BE.” He is Jehovah Jireh, even before I see the fulfillment of His provision. I can worship Him now! This was a transforming revelation, and I was immediately changed from hopeless to joyful as I understood this truth.
So here I am, looking back in hindsight. I don’t have time or space to enumerate all of the blessings along the way up the mountain, because there are too many to count. But as I write this, tomorrow I have an appointment to sign closing documents for our disaster loan. We have enough money in the bank from disaster grants to cover our up-front repair expenses, and we are scheduled to get our house repaired within a month.
I did have to trust blindly for a while. He did provide for every single one of our physical, emotional and spiritual needs. It did feel like the last minute. There were ups and downs in my attitude and faith as things seemed to be coming together, then falling apart. But I could always look back to the lessons He gave me through the story of Abraham and Isaac.
Join The Conversation
Are you in the dark, or can you see clearly from the mountain top? We would love to hear from you in the comments. Do you have any lessons you could share on trusting God or any scriptures or reminders that help you?3 lessons in trusting God – even when you cannot see… Click To Tweet