The Pursuit of Faith

by Karen Wingate

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12 NIV

Genesis, the first book in the Bible, contains several stories that make me squirm. I can safely say that in my many years in Christian education, I have never taught that handful of stories to the children in my classroom.

Take, for instance, Abraham’s treatment of his wife, Sarah. Soon after Abraham moved to the country God promised to give him and his descendants, famine struck that enchanted land. Being nomads, Abraham and his family moved down to Egypt. There, Abraham told Pharaoh the incomplete truth that Sarah was his sister. Pharoah did what was likely common in the current culture; he sent a royal invitation to Sarah that she could not refuse. Pharoah discovered the ruse, scolded Abraham, and sent him and Sarah away (Genesis 12:10-20).

We shake our heads in dismay. Isn’t Abraham billed as the father of the faithful, the man of faith? Surprisingly, Abraham didn’t learn his lesson. Twenty-five years later, Abraham pulled the same trick on Ahimelech, the leader of the Philistines. What was Abraham’s rational? “There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife” (Gen. 20:11 NIV).

Why did Abraham lie? Fear overshadowed his trust in God. Knowing Sarah was a beautiful woman, he figured any man would kill to obtain Sarah for his own. Abraham hedged to protect himself. He caved to customs of the culture instead of trusting the promise that God would give him descendants through Sarah.

Abraham’s initial move to Canaan in Genesis 12 and the poignant story of the sacrifice of his son Isaac in Genesis 22 bookend the life of this Bible hero. The book of Hebrews touts him as an example of active faith. And the stories in between? I’m glad the Lord included those. They remind me that my life is not defined by one, two, or ten mistakes. They reassure me that in God’s efforts to refine my faith, He will keep testing the caliber of my commitment to Him.

As the tests become harder, I may falter. But with each test, I have the chance to hone my faith skills and demonstrate my level of trust in my God, who is completely trustworthy. Like Abraham, the true test comes when God challenges whether I’ve learned from my failure.

Genesis 22, the story of the attempted sacrifice, shows that Abraham had learned the hard but crucial lesson that trusting God is the better idea—and the only way to go. Abraham’s faith was proven through his perseverance.

Have you failed to obey God? Hedged on the truth to protect your reputation? Hesitated to stand up for what is right out of a fear you might look weak, weird, or different? Taken matters into your own hands instead of trusting God for His timing?

If so, don’t despair. Learn from the test and try again. Persist, and pray that God will make you stronger and smarter for the next test. For you can count on the truth that God rewards those who try again.

Lord, forgive me for the times I’ve faltered and failed to trust you. In humility I ask you to show me the core issue in my disobedience to you. Give me wisdom to know how I can demonstrate my trust in You better the next time. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the Author: Karen Wingate, author of the award-winning book, With Fresh Eyes: 60 Insights into the Miraculously Ordinary from a Woman Born Blind, loves to see the world, whether on a short-term mission trip, a visit to her grandson, or a hike through the mountains surrounding her hometown of Tucson, Arizona. A children’s ministry worker and bible study leader for over 30 years, Karen writes for the Proverbs 31 ministry’s Encouragement for Today devotional and blogs at www.karenwingate.com.

Karen’s book, With Fresh Eyes: 60 Insights into the Miraculously Ordinary from a Woman Born Blind invites you to discover a world you’ve never seen before.You’ll find hope and wonder as you take a fresh look at what God has done and what He has promised to do for each of us.

Join the Conversation: Have your attempts to try again after a period of failure become a faith builder for you?

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3 thoughts on “The Pursuit of Faith

  1. Karen, this is so timely for me. I’ve been beating myself up over a recent conversation because I should have been nicer, gentler, and thinking of the other person more than myself. Thank you for reminding me that God can use this experience for good in my spiritual growth and my future. Blessings, Fran

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