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Saturday, September 17, 2011

"In hope he believed against hope"

I began reading through “The Bible in a Year” only two years ago. I use the ESV reading plan.

Last year (at the age of 44) I read through the entire bible in 12 months, for the first time in my life. Thus beginning a new way of daily bible reading and devotions that through the grace of God will continue for the rest of my life.

I write this post to emphasize the importance of daily, prayerful, structured, meditation over God’s word. By following a "read through the bible" plan, you will be absolutely amazed how God will reveal Himself each morning as you systematically drink in the scriptures.

You will also be amazed at your daily dependance on this routine. After a few months it will become a habit. The habit will then transform into a priority, and the priority will develop into a passion for God’s word. You will soon awaken to the anticipation of what God will reveal or say to you this new day.

This was the case for me only a few days ago as I came across a very helpful passage from Romans 4. I say “helpful” because only the night before I lay in my bed tossing and turning in unbelief with a thousand impossible scenarios running through my head.

  • Our son, Jake, is still living five hours away from home. We feel so distant from his life. He must be moved to another facility in two years. Most places have at least a two year waiting list. There are no acceptable facilities available in our area. The outlook for a closer proximity without lowering his care standards seem dim to impossible.
  • Our house has been for sale for a year now. The housing market has bottomed out in our area. We are currently carrying three mortgages (two on our current house and one rental home) The lurking shadow of foreclosure creeps towards our door each month, and each month it is chased away by God’s amazing grace. Still, we have almost given up on selling our house. And even on a shoestring budget the outlook for getting ahead seems impossible.
  • I work evening shift, 4PM to midnight. Many weeks I have to work 7 days. All of my kids are in school. That means when they get home, I leave for work. When I get home, they are in bed. I have two teenage boys who really need their dad right now (not to mention a little girl who needs my fatherly attention). I am gone most of the week and I am beginning to see some waywardness in their lives. A sense of parenting and leadership failure is lurking and I cannot find a way to make the situation any better. My work schedule appears impossible.

And so I lay awake, wondering what I will do, what God will do with these “impossible” scenarios. The next morning, during my daily, systematic, structured, meditation of God’s word, I came across Romans 4:17-21.

Speaking to God’s declaration of Abraham’s faith, Paul writes:

...in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope.

...No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

As I finished reading the passage, I found a treasure of God's gold. I read it forwards and backwards; over and over again as I came to this hope-filled conclusion:

Abraham was fully convinced of God’s promises. He had hope in “impossible” circumstances because he knew God’s glory burned brightest in the realm of the inconceivable. Perhaps he had times of distrust, but “no distrust made him waiver concerning the promises of God.”

If death seemed like the end of hope, then he could hope in the God who could give life to the dead. If the solution to the problem did not exist, then he could have faith in the God who could call into existence the things that did not exist.

Abraham’s faith rested in the promises of God who created the possible from the impossible.

I closed my bible that morning with a prayer of praise, amazement, and thanksgiving, writing this entry in my journal:

I can have hope in the midst of hopelessness because I have a promise in the midst of the impossible. And if death itself should kill my hope, then I can have faith in a God who raises the dead. And if by some human reasoning, the solution to my circumstances is “impossible”, I can have faith in the God who can call into existence things that do not even exist. (Romans 4:17-2)

For His glory and my good.