We often struggle with broken relationships, broken health, and broken dreams. Some of these are just the result of living in a broken world. Others are the result of our foolishness and disobedience. We are called to persevere in the former and to repent of the sins that have caused the latter. And by the grace of God, He will use all of these to mature our faith in Him. We see this grace at work in the life of Abram.
In Genesis 14, Abram had done great exploits of faith in saving Lot and turning down an ungodly alliance with the king of Sodom. Consequently, God appeared to him again in Genesis 15 and promised to be his shield and his exceedingly great reward, assuring Abram of His abiding presence and promise. God even gave Abram a vision of his future. Abram was on the mountain top of his faith experience.
However, in the next chapter in Genesis 16, everything came tumbling down. Abram caved in to the pressure to have a son. Desiring to see God’s promises to him fulfilled, he listened to Sarai’s wrong advice. Instead of trusting God, he foolishly took things into his own hands. He took Sarai’s maid, Hagar, as his mistress. His dysfunctional faith eventually led to a dysfunctional home. Sarai started mistreating Hagar after she became pregnant. So Hagar ran away from them.
Yes, God has given us His promise of our final salvation in Christ. Yes, we are called to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. The trouble is we often mix up our responsibilities with God’s responsibilities. Discerning the difference is exercising biblical wisdom. This is because, in God’s economy, the means to the end is as important, if not, more important than the end itself. It’s a reflection of our faith and character. When we try to do only what God can do, not only are we going beyond what our abilities can bring about, we also fail to trust God and wait on Him. It’s a sure path to failure, disappointment and frustrations.
Yes, God has called us not only to trust Him but also to act in obedience. May He grant us the discernment to know the difference, and to distinguish between what He has called us to do and what He has called us to trust Him to do. It is a wisdom we need, both for ourselves and in counselling others.