Pauls Footsteps #282

  18 Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will Have.” Romans 4:18NLT    

Footsteps #282 In Romans we find several examples of Paul’s positive use of hope. Those who have faith can “rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom.5:2). “Hope makes not ashamed” (v5). The Bible records God’s dealing with humanity so that we “might have hope” (Rom.15:4). And “the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (v13). 

Paul intimately tied hope to faith in God. It was the same with Abraham, who “against hope…believed in hope” (v18) that God’s promise would be fulfilled. The meaning here is that Abraham’s belief transcended his sight. He believed God’s promises despite his and Sarah’s physical condition. That is faith. And that is the faith of Abraham. Faith moves beyond what we can see to what God has promised. 

It is the kind of faith that each of us needs as we await the “blessed hope” of the second coming of Jesus (Titus.2:13). This is faith that takes us beyond our circumstances. (v19) Abraham and Sarah’s situation looked hopeless. 

Faith does not close its eyes to life’s realities. Abraham took full account of the impotence of his body as well as of his wife’s condition. Those were the hard facts of the situation that needed a profound faith. 

Yet faith is not limited by human estimates of what is possible, because we read in v17, God can make the dead alive and call “into being what does not exist”(RSV) Abraham realised through faith that only God can give life where there is none now. 

What, we might ask, does Abraham’s experience signify for me? At the very least it means that I should not base my faith on the present realities that I see in the world around me. Does the church seem dead? Does it seem that Christ will never come? Does it seem that my feeble efforts are as nothing in this world of 6 billion people? The answer is yes. But faith – my faith – can transcend those realities to the ultimate reality that God will fulfill His promise in spite of what appears to be hopelessness. 

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