Faith Like Abraham


Recently we listened to a sermon entitled “The Faith of Abraham.” I really hoped it wasn’t going to be about the time God told Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering. I don’t like that story very much. It makes me uncomfortable, especially since we’ve lost a child. It pierces me to the very heart because I intimately know the pain involved. And to do it willingly is just, well . . . crazy.

Turns out that’s what the sermon was about. I listened to it, inwardly cringing the whole time. And then something suddenly became clear to me, like someone flipping on a light. The fact that really bothers me is that God is more concerned about our trust, belief and faith in Him than in our comfort, or the absence of pain in our lives.

Linda’s daughter, Hannah Joy, who passed away from a brain tumor in 2003.

I let that sink in––really sink in, because I realized that I harbor a belief that true love is more concerned with our comfort level than our trust in God. Ouch. And you know, honestly, I can define long seasons of my life as a struggle to make sense of the pain God has allowed.

Maybe if I truly believed God’s point of view, I wouldn’t be so quick to jump to the conclusion that He really doesn’t love me when things are hard. Maybe I could realize that He is refining my faith. Maybe the constant struggles of living on the mission field would take on deeper meaning rather than only being constant, chaffing frustrations.

It makes no sense on the human level––only on the eternal level. I want the eyes to see by faith, to see things from God’s perspective. Give us, your people, Oh Lord, a faith like Abraham.

8 Comments

  • Annette Welburn says:

    You are so right, Linda, and someday all life’s pain and sufferring will all make sense. In Heaven, we will be able to see God’s purpose.

    One thing I know for certain is that He recieves more glory when we are willing to honor and praise Him in the midst of pain and sufferring, than when everything in our world is going just as we’d like.

    Yes, pain does make sense on the eternal level. I believe that only by faith. I look forward to the day when my faith will be sight!

    Love you!!
    Annette

  • Thank you for sharing this. As mom of another Hannah Joy who is in Heaven following a battle from a brain tumor, I know the truth of your words. Sure hope to meet you one day!

  • Hello Linda, I received your email update from the METS team at SMCC. Your post really touched my heart. Thank you for writing so honestly. As a mother of a 26 yr old boy who has been on and off Hospice for years, I found your words to be so true. I don’t always understand the pain, but I know it helps to make me who I need to be in God’s eyes.
    All’s Grace,
    Kathie

    • Linda Ringenberg Linda Ringenberg says:

      Kathie,

      Thanks for writing. I appreciate your words. We both know the pain of watching our children suffer. It’s quite a journey, isn’t it? May God continue to give you daily grace, and continue to make us into the women of God He desires us to be.

      My prayers are with you.

      Linda

  • Joy Neal says:

    Hi Linda,

    My name is Joy, and I’m a pre-fielder en-route to Indonesia. I’ve heard about your family, and am so sorry for the loss of your sweet daughter.

    A couple years ago I heard an excellent Jewish response to the story of Abraham, which differs from the lessons I’ve usually gleaned from the story. In Abraham’s time (when people were serving many gods), human sacrifice was a common occurrence and a part of regular worship. Sacrificing children and babies, especially, was a ritualistic act. For Abraham, the fact that God would ask him to sacrifice his son would be normal. The Jewish take on this is that when God stopped Abraham from killing his son, God was setting himself apart as a different kind of God than the gods he had previously served — One of peace, and One who values human life.

    Of course, that has implications regarding the sacrifice of Jesus, for which there is plenty of interesting apologetics and arguments as to why God could be the God who “abhors human sacrifice” and who also sent his Son to die — namely, that Jesus laid himself down rather than being sacrificed by someone else. (Greater love has no man than this…)

    Anyhow, hearing that perspective gave me a different view of the story of Abraham and Isaac, and made me want to praise God all the more for who He is: a God who cares, loves, values, and hates murder.

    • Linda Ringenberg Linda Ringenberg says:

      Hi Joy,

      Good to hear from you! I hope things are going well in your preparations for Indonesia. Maybe we’ll be seeing you in the future! Thanks for your insights on the story of Abraham. I had never heard that take on it before. It’s interesting to think that child sacrifice would be a “normal” thing as it’s so abhorrant to us. But living in Papua I can see a definite lack of value for human life, especially children at times, too.

      I do stand in awe at Abraham’s faith as well. Even if child sacrifice was a normal thing, it must have been a hard test for him to obediently follow God’s command to sacrifice the “Son of promise” whom he had waited so long for and loved so dearly.

      Blessings,

      Linda

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