I’ve often found that, before God asks us to give up something huge, He prepares us by having us give up something smaller.
It happened to me. Just a couple years before my husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor and declared disabled, he was laid off from work for several months. Learning to live on less at that time was great training for adjusting to disability payments.
God has been doing this since the very beginning. Look at Abraham. Isaac wasn’t the first son God asked Abraham to give up.
The child [Isaac] grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. But Sarah saw that the son [Ishmael] whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, and she said to Abraham, "Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac." Genesis 21:8-10
As you may recall, Ishmael is Abraham’s first son, born to him by his wife’s servant, Hagar. Now Abraham's wife asks him to kick his son out, along with his mother.
Can you imagine the turmoil? Sure, this boy wasn’t Abraham’s heir, but it was, after all, his first child—his son. He wasn’t ready to just give him up. Abraham was, as God’s Word said, “greatly distressed.”(Genesis 21:11) And he hesitated.
But God said to him, "Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also, because he is your offspring." Genesis 21:12-13
And that was enough for Abraham.
Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. Genesis 21:14, emphasis mine
He acted right away, with assurance from his Heavenly Father.
This experience helped grow Abraham's trust in the Lord, which is evident in his next dilemma involving a son: this time, his promised son, Isaac.
I’d guess you are a bit more familiar with this story. In brief, God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son to Him. Abraham obeys, but God stops him at the last minute and demands a ram instead. (See Genesis 22:1-18 for more details)
This time, Abraham acted immediately, with no reassurance of “blue skies” from his Father. In fact, the only words he heard from God were the command to take his son to Mount Moriah and sacrifice him as a burnt offering. Not very encouraging.
But Abraham had grown. He trusted God even further. This time he didn’t need the reassurance.
Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. Genesis 22:3, emphasis mine
Again, he acted immediately, with the increasing faith he had developed through the first trial.
May we grow in the same way.
Heavenly Father, thank You for preparing us for trials beforehand, and thank You for using Abraham as an example to us about the need to trust You more and more each day. Help us, Lord, to learn through experience Your faithfulness and love. May our love for you, and our belief in your sovereignty, increase with every instance of its exhibition in our lives. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.**
We're discussing this devotional here, and at Living by Grace on Facebook. Won't you join us?
Has God prepared you for a big trial by getting you through a smaller one? Did you learn from the process?
Scripture Stories: Timeless Truths
Graphics courtesy of Christians Unite