Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Nov 13 2013 - Hebrews 11:17-31 – Trusting when we do not understand

Faith means trusting God even when we do not understand the path he calls us to tread. Abraham trusted God even when called to offer Isaac as a sacrifice – even though all his hopes, and all of the promises of God, were bound up with that child. We know that God intervened and provided a substitute so that Isaac might be saved; nevertheless, it's a strange, puzzling and disturbing story. Here it is recalled as a great example of faith, "Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death" (Hebrews 13.19). Abraham was convinced that he could trust God despite being called to sacrifice his son.

We will not be asked to sacrifice our own children, at least, not in the way in which this was asked of Abraham. Nevertheless, for most of us there will be times when we find it difficult to understand the way God deals with us. There will be times when the path of discipleship will seem to be a path marked by loss; when the very things that it seemed God had promised us are taken from us. It is particularly at such times that we need to trust God and to walk by faith and not by sight. We need to believe that God knows what he is doing and that there is nothing that he takes from us which will not richly be repaid. God gave his Son for us. God raised his Son from the dead for us. He will turn our darkness into dawn and each loss into rich reward – even if we cannot see it at the moment. Faith trusts where it cannot see because it places all its confidence and hope in a faithful God and a trustworthy Saviour.

The Israelites may not have understood why they had to kill a lamb and paint its blood on their doorposts that day in Egypt. They may not have understood why it was so important for them to remain within their houses that Passover night. They had to live by faith, doing what God commanded. But later they could see clearly that God had rescued them from Egypt that night and had kept them safe from his wrath through the blood of the lamb. Year by year they would celebrate this great act of God’s salvation.

Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us. We celebrate an even greater salvation. Our lives become a celebration of that great salvation as we live by faith in him who loved us and gave himself for us: trusting even when we cannot understand the way he leads us; choosing, if that is where our path lies, to be ill-treated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin; regarding disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than all the treasures this world can offer because we are looking forward to the reward he has in store for us at the end of our journey. Like Moses, we need to have our eyes fixed on “him who is invisible” – on Jesus who has walked this path before us and who is now crowned with glory and honour.

Faithful Father, thank you for these case notes of faith which demonstrate that you can be trusted in every situation encountered by the lives of your people. Thank you especially for our faithful Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us and has promised to be with us every step of the way. By your Spirit, enable us to live lives of faith which demonstrate to those around us and to generations to come that you are faithful.

Peter Misselbrook