This is the first of two in a youth group series which begins to answer why there is suffering in the world, and how could God be good who allows suffering in the world. I would love to hear your … Continue reading
Good morning to you! I don’t mean to keep writing out of Genesis, but I keep seeing these new and wonderful things and feel the need to share. Today my readings took me to Genesis 15, the incredible chapter of the covenant God made with Abram. For our purposes today, we are going to focus on vv12-16, but please read the full chapter if you are not familiar with this passage.
12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”
The first this I wondered about was this sleep that Abram fell into; it was deep, filled with a thick and dreadful darkness. What does this mean, that a thick and dreadful darkness came over him?! My commentaries say that these words mean awe-inspiring divine activity is happening, but I can’t believe that is the whole story. Obviously divine activity is occurring – God is making a covenant with this man for all eternity! I wonder if even in the deepest sleep, Abram knew what was happening and could feel God’s very real presence? I wonder if, even in sleep, Abram was terrified at the sheer magnitude of having the one and only, sovereign Creator make an everlasting covenant with him. At this point in time, Abram did not know God very well – theirs was a new relationship still in Genesis 15; so I wonder if Abram knew enough about this incredible God to be deeply, dreadfully afraid at his presence, but not enough to have the deep, abiding love that eclipses the fear yet. I think of a tornado that you know is coming your way – that heart-pounding dread, anxiety, and fear of what lays in your future. This God Abram faced, even in sleep, is so much more than that, and Abram was deeply and dreadfully afraid in the darkness.
I think of when I first “met” God and the fear I had of giving my life to Him. I was afraid to face Him in my dirty rags and I was afraid to face myself – because in the face of pure holiness, your own ugliness becomes starkly apparent. Thankfully, God’s grace is so much bigger than all my sin and His love is unfailing! Facing God can be scary. But once those dirty rags are burned away, we are left standing with beautiful, fine garments, holy in His sight, and a future filled with excitement and adventure. And it is so worth it ❤
The next thing that caught my eye, and really the reason I’m writing on this passage today, is v14b: and afterward they will come out with great possessions. God has just promised that Abram’s descendants will be enslaved for 400 years, but then He says this: not only will He punish the offenders, but Abrams descendants will come out with great possessions! As many times as I have studied this passage, I have never noticed this incredible phrase. Praise Him that His Word is indeed alive and active (Heb. 4:12)!
When we go through a period of hardship, we too will leave with great possessions! The Israelites left Egypt with material gifts; but we leave our times of trial with so much more than that! God will never allow us to be put in the fire of trial and not come out purified. Each time we face hardship, praise Him for the work He will do because of it! As hard as that sounds, it is so true. Each time I have ever gone through a struggle – be it of my own doing, through consequences of my sin, or something completely out of my control – I can tell you exactly how I changed and what I learned from that experience. And it has always been for my betterment. God does not cause us pain, but He does allow us to experience pain, because without pain, how can you revel in the peace?! Without the sorrow, how can you revel in the joy? Life is full of pain – that is a fact that no one on this planet gets to escape; the difference is, with Christ, that pain is not for naught. In Christ, all things are worked for the good of those who love him according to his good purpose (Rom. 8:28). Those hard times reveal the faithfulness of our incredible Creator, and they also reveal the strength you have in Him. Every time I go through something hard and come out victorious over it, I am left with a little bit more self-confidence, and a lot more faith. Not only has He never let me down, but He has strengthened me so I have never let my circumstances overcome me.
and afterward, they will leave with great possessions….
Praise Him today. Praise Him that He will never let your circumstances overcome you, nor will He ever let you go through them without giving you great possessions because of them!
Lord, it is my prayer today that we are a people of thankful hearts. That we, like Abram, have faith in you to give us victory over every circumstance and faith to know that you will work it for our good. I pray that you give us strength and courage to face each day like the victors you have made us, and that we may see the joy in each day, no matter what life brings. You bring joy and peace through the storm, and you make life worth it. Thank you, Lord, for you are good! In your precious and holy Name, Amen.