I’m so encouraged by how Biblical narratives give us so much insight into the lives of God’s people. We are introduced to great men and women, who are used mightily by God in the unfolding of His wonderful plan of redemption. These men and women are people of great faith, courage, and strength. We read that they were called to do challenging things. They stepped out of their comfort zone, confronted giants, battled against great armies, and spoke unwelcomed words of truth to the mighty of their time. They believed in their God, and their faith propelled them forward. It would be so easy to read about these great heroes and attribute their actions to their own faithfulness. We would walk away amazed by them but unable to relate. We would walk away feeling small and defeated because we know how unfaithful we are, how often our trust in God wavers, and how quickly we lose courage.
Thankfully, God allows us to see more than these heroes’ moments of faithful obedience and acts of courage. In these accounts, we also see their flaws, failures, and fears. We see their sins. Most importantly, through the Old and New Testament narratives, we see that God’s sovereign plan is never thwarted by His children’s weaknesses. I’ve been reading through Genesis and was recently reminded of this truth.
In chapter 12, God calls Abraham (then still called Abram) out of his country and promises to make him the father of a great nation. Abraham, although having no tangible evidence of God’s fulfillment of this promise, responds in obedience. He picks up everything and gets going. Later, in chapter 17, God restates His promise and establishes the covenant of circumcision, instructing Abraham, that he and his entire household are to be circumcised. And, on that very day, Abraham does as the Lord told him to, and everyone gets circumcised. In both situations, Abraham responds in faith. These were difficult circumstances. Each entailed emotional and physical challenges. Perhaps they were both controversial, and he encountered opposition. We don’t know all the details, but we can imagine that there were obstacles involved in obeying God. Yet, Abraham trusted and obeyed.
For our benefit, these and other accounts of Abraham’s great faith and courage, are intertwined with some not-so-grand moments. Like God’s children today, Abraham believes, but he also struggles. For example, Abraham struggled to remain patient and tried to build a family by having a child with Hagar (Chapter 16). And twice, while in foreign lands, Abraham hides the fact that Sarah is his wife because he feared he might be killed (Chapters 12 and 20). His actions put his wife’s safety at risk and led to significant harm falling upon the rulers who tried to take Sarah for themselves. In these accounts, we see that even Abraham had moments that were not categorized by faith and trust.
I’m grateful that we have so much insight into the strengths and also the weaknesses of those who lived before us. They encourage us to live boldly for God but to also continue to trust God in our own moments of weakness. When our faith feels small and we seem to have no more courage left, we can remind ourselves that there is no need to lose heart. When we fail, there is no need to wallow in self-pity. Whether we are struggling with doubt, pride, self-righteousness, greed, gossip, unforgiveness, murmuring, lack of love, sexual sins, envy, laziness, lukewarmness, or anything else, through Christ, we can go before God with a contrite heart and confess our desperate need for His righteousness.
This was further impressed upon my heart during Sunday worship where I was reminded that, because of the Gospel, we can look closely at our own sins and not despair. And because of the Gospel, we can walk with others close enough to see their sins and not be shocked. The Gospel empowers us to live authentic and vulnerable lives. What a gift!
So my encouragement to you is, whatever sin you are currently ensnared by…turn to God and repent. Don’t run from Him. Believe and trust in what Christ accomplished on the cross. Only through Him can our sins be forgiven. Only by abiding in Him do we have the power to wrestle with our sins and overcome them!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and fainthearted.” Hebrews 12:1-3