The Faith of Abraham

I used to think Abraham was really crazy.  I would read the story of Abraham and Isaac and think, “What a crazy guy! Who would do that?”

I was totally missing the point.

My 12 year-old son was recently diagnosed with a heart problem.  The doctor said that a heart procedure would be required as soon as possible because if the problem was not addressed, he could die from it at any moment of his life.  He explained that the problem with my son’s heart was related to a developmental process that should have happened in utero but didn’t.

On the day of the surgery, the surgical team strapped him to the operating table.  They strapped every part of him down: his legs, his torso, his chest, his arms, his hands.  He was completely bound to this long, thin table.

I couldn’t help but think of Abraham tying his only, beloved son to the altar of sacrifice.  As I looked at my own beloved son, bound to the operating table, I bemoaned the fact that I didn’t have the faith of Abraham.

At that moment, with the clarity of a “Eureka!” moment, I finally understood the story of Abraham and Isaac.  I understood why the figure of Abraham is connected with deep, grace-filled faith.

As we walked out of the operating room, leaving our son in the hands of the doctor and his team, I also realized that there was no option but to trust God.  I had nurtured and protected my son for twelve-years and now I had absolutely no control over the situation.  At this point, everything was completely up to God.

I thought about the fact that the heart problem stemmed from a problem in utero.  This brought to mind the Psalm of David:

You formed my inmost being;

you knit me in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, because I am wonderfully made;

wonderful are your works!

My very self you know.

My bones are not hidden from you,

When I was being made in secret,

fashioned in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw me unformed;

in your book all are written down;

my days were shaped, before one came to be (Psalm 139).

As the surgery dragged on, twice as long as was anticipated, I thought about these words while the fear welled up in my throat.  I meditated on the fact that I didn’t know what the outcome of the surgery would be.  In fact, it came to mind, that I really don’t know the outcome of anything at all.  In the end, I really am not in control of anything.  In the beginning, in the end, and every moment in the middle, I do not know what the outcome of anything will be.  I must do my part, but the rest is up to God.

And as I reflected on this, I found great comfort in this psalm.  God knew what was going on when my son was in utero.  He knew about this heart condition before anyone did.   I reflected on the passage, Your eyes saw me unformed; in your book all are written down; my days were shaped, before one came to be.”  God knows how many days my son, and each of us, will have.

That is comforting.   It is comforting because it means that we don’t need to control everything.  We can completely melt down and He is still “on top of the situation.”  We can surrender to God because He has us – all the time – from before we are born, He has us. He’s got us covered.

I silently prayed, “Lord, I don’t know what will happen. But I love you. I praise you. I glorify you. I adore you. I trust you.”

And then, the nurse came out and said that my son was ok. The doctor followed. He said that although the surgery took twice as long as he had expected it would, that he believed he had found the spot and addressed the problem and that it should not be a problem going forward.

If the problem had not been addressed, my son could have died any day at any moment from this condition.  If this specific doctor, who specialized in my son’s specific heart problem, had not been in the emergency room at the time that he came in, this problem would not have been detected.  Moreover, this heart problem could only be detected on EKG during the rare intermittent episodes when the heart was beating in the irregular way.  It happened that it was caught on the EKG while my son was in the ER.  Some children who have this condition undetected, require heart transplants.  My sons condition was detected and addressed before any of this occurred.

You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know.

My thoughts were of Gratitude. Gratitude tested by fire.

A couple of days ago, Jesuit Fr. James Martin wrote, False religion says that if you believe in God, nothing bad will ever happen, so don’t worry. Real religion says that even if you believe in God, something bad might happen, but there’s no need to worry. In fearful times we tend to forget that God is right there with us, no matter what happens—through our friends, our families, even our doctors—and that God gives us all sorts of resources to deal with our problems and move through them, and if we’re lucky, past them. The key is remembering all this when the fear starts and focusing on the trust instead.”

We all have hardships.  Things arise that shock us and scare us and that we can’t plan for – this is life, but every moment is ripe with invitation to trust God more.

Every moment of our lives, every heartbeat, every breath – is a gift.  Only God knows how many breaths and how many heartbeats we will have in our lifetime.  And, he knows them down to the specific count.

Truly, every moment is an opportunity to surrender to the Love that keeps our hearts beating.

“I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works!”

 

Because He Lives ( Amen ) – Matt Maher

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3 thoughts on “The Faith of Abraham

  1. Whether good or bad happens to us, we have to trust in God and know whatever happens it is for our good. Even if we die, as long as we do so in friendship with God, we will have the ultimate good of being with God forever. We must live as if we want to be with Him for all eternity. That seems to be the problem most people have these days; their sense of entitlement makes them think they can live how they want–not how God wants–and still share the Beatific Vision. Such surprises there will be on Judgment Day!

  2. JESUS SAID…….BY STEVE FINNELL

    Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved..(MARK 16:16 NKJV)

    Men say “He who believes should be baptized as a testimony of their faith.”

    Men say, “He who has believed is saved already and should be baptized so they can join a denominational church.”

    Men say, “He who believes is saved without being baptized in water.”

    Men say, “He who believes can be saved by faith alone because baptism is a meaningless symbolic act.”

    Men say, “He who believes will be saved because God forces predestined men to believe, however, water baptism is a good work and not essential for salvation.”

    Men say, “He who believes will be saved, however, water baptism is a nonessential act of obedience.”

    Men say, “Unbelieving infants who are baptized for the guilt of Adam’s sin will be saved.”

    Men say, “He who believes us who say water baptism is not essential for salvation will be saved by faith alone.”

    Men say, “He who believes will be saved without water baptism, because the thief on the cross was saved without being baptized.”

    Men say, “You can be saved without believing in Jesus or being baptized, because Abraham and Moses were saved without believing in Jesus or being baptized in water.”

    When Judgement Day arrives will men be judged by what Jesus said or what men say?

    Posted by Steve Finnell at 3:04 AM No comments:
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    • Dear Steve,
      Wow. I’m impressed that you are thinking about such things at 3 am. My blog is about my personal faith journey. I wish you all the best in your own ponderings…

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