Stage Three (Gen. 15-17)
by Bob Whitaker
We have been thinking about the stages in the journey of Abraham’s faith. This stage I am calling, “trust me in the silences.” As you may recall, Sarah and Abraham had been promised a son to carry on their name, one who would make them a great nation and a child that would bless the whole world. By the time we get to this part of the story in Genesis 15, we realize that Abraham and Sarah waited for 25 years for the promise to be fulfilled.
Often, we think of Abraham as being in constant communication with God. That may have been true. He may have been in conversation with God every day, feeling his real presence, but the communication with God concerning the promise of a child…well, those conversations included large gaps. It could be that God renewed his promise vocally to Abraham every day, but that is not how it is recorded in Genesis. The renewals of the covenant were many years apart.
One time when God renewed the promise to Abraham, he literally fell down laughing. In effect he was saying, “Seriously, God? At my age?” Sometimes we remember how Sarah laughed when the angels visited with a renewed promise, but Abraham laughed, too.
Here is the point: Abraham had many long segments of silence between the renewed promises from God. As one author has said, “God’s voice comes intermittently, not in unbroken chatter but in episodes of speech punctuating seasons of silence.” My, how true that is! We forget that faith means trusting God during the silent times. God does not need to remind us daily, he expects us to take him at his word and trust in the midst of the silence.
Have you ever experienced those spiritual dry times when it seems like you can’t hear from God? You probably have and during those silent times your faith actually grows. We understand this concept in the physical world – our muscles develop only when they are stretched and under duress, when exercise puts strain upon them. In much the same way our spiritual growth happens under stress and there are few things more stressful than periods of silence from God.
When we do not feel God’s presence it is not necessarily punishment, it is often for our good. God wants us to walk by faith and not by sight. So here is the reminder that I need. I need to remember that God is still there even when I don’t hear him. I need to remember that God still loves me even when it seems that he is absent. Even in the silences, God is there. Remember that today.