In Genesis 12:1, the Lord calls Abram to leave his country, his people, and his father’s household. “Go to the land I will show you.”
I can’t imagine what Abram was feeling—how did he just up and go? Bringing not only himself but also his whole family and household. I was nervous enough to go to a different country for a semester. Despite having planned the semester in the Netherlands months before, filling out all the paperwork, reading up on the country, making packing lists, and shopping for everything I didn’t have, I still felt totally helpless when I first left the train station with my host family, away from my fellow Americans. Gone was the feeling of excitement I had when I stepped on the plane in Denver; gone was the feeling of exhilaration from when I landed in Amsterdam. All I could do was follow my host dad onto the bus, unsure of how to act, knowing that without him I would be completely lost.
When God told Abram to leave, he also gave him a promise: “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great; and you will be a blessing. I will bless those you bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all people on earth will be blessed through you.”
This promise from God was the only thing that Abram had to follow. I say “only”—a promise from God is more than we could ever ask for—because, despite the value of such a promise, the rich comfort that his promises offer can only be accessed by faith.
In the Psalms, we have a plethora of examples of grasping onto the promises of God. David desperately grasped onto those promises: “Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.”
So, we see that David pleads for God to be his rock—not just for David’s sake, but for the sake of God’s name! We can be sure that God will listen to the prayers of his people because of who he is: a God of righteousness, truth, and faithful love. As such, he is glorified in hearing and answering us according to his will.
A lot of people don’t have to go anywhere to feel helpless and completely lost. Cancer, depression, divorce—when these things come, they leave us questioning what we took for granted. They make us feel empty and helpless. I have several dear friends who are living with hard, hard realities. They, like Abram, have only the promises of God to follow. They, like David, must plead with God to come quickly to their rescue. By faith, these people of God must say, “Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth.”
These words, written by David, were later spoken by Christ when he was hanging on the cross. Christ himself had to trust in the promises of God! He had to trust because he was also helpless.
But at the same time that Christ needed faith in the God’s promises, he was also fulfilling them, because God’s promise to Abram was fulfilled by Christ. So, in Christ we can find comfort and assurance. Comfort, because we know that Christ knows our suffering and that because he hears us we can always run to him for strength and refuge. Assurance, because in Christ’s resurrection, we see that God is truly faithful to his promises, and although he seems to delay in answering us, he will never ignore or forget our pleadings.