It can be easy to think we have gotten beyond unbelief when we have known the Lord for a while. Most of us have a basis for our relationship with the Lord and a sense of the tenets that form that foundation. Some of us have done enough reading in the Word to have some muscle attached to those beliefs and we would likely deny there are any issues of unbelief in our lives.
Maybe we have not examined ourselves closely enough to discover there can be remnants of it still attached.
Before disagreeing with that statement, I wonder if a passage in Genesis 18 would challenge us? Few would question the faith and faithfulness of Abraham and Sarah and yet this issue of Sarah’s barrenness reveals how unbelief influenced them and set in motion a long list of consequences.
One of the obvious ones is when Sarah offers Hagar to Abraham so an heir can be born through her with Sarah thinking that resolves things. At the outset her unbelief is evident, but since Abraham agrees it seems he was not sure God would complete his promises to him either.
When we get to Genesis 18 the story is continuing and Sarah is caught laughing when she overhears God’s messengers to Abraham that a son would be born to this elderly couple in a year. Unbelief couldn’t be more obvious. Ouch!!
The messengers pose the question to Abraham, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
How simple it can be to read these great Bible stories and never see the application to our own lives.
As hopes and dreams lay in a corner of our lives without coming to fruition, what goes through our mind? That’s especially true if we thought those hopes and dreams were something God had placed in our hearts. Time goes by and years pass. We doubt ourselves; doubt the hopes and dreams, and sometimes God for his silence or refusal to act for us.
As each decade creeps up, the doubt and unbelief can grow. We stop talking or praying about those faded hopes and dreams. We can despair of hope and start to think life with its hopes and dreams has passed us by (not unlike Sarah). We decide we are happy enough, blessed enough, but in the corner of our hearts the hopes and dreams aren’t really dead. When someone else realizes fulfillment of something similar to ours, we feel a prick of “what might have been.”
We may be tempted to review our mistakes and sins and determine we stopped God from working in our lives as a result of those things.
How often we can forget that God’s purposes of grace are not thwarted by our sins or failures. He actually specializes in working through ordinary (often weak and flawed) men and women despite all that and sometimes because of all that.
Even a casual reading of the Bible will find sins, flaws, and weakness in those we commonly refer to as “heroes of the faith.” Such things did not halt God’s purposes and plans. What causes us to think it would be different for any one of us?
Paul addresses this in 2 Corinthians 4:7 (ESV) as follows:
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”
Am I saying those hopes and dreams may still come to pass?
Yes….especially if the Lord birthed them in us.
That passage in Genesis 18:14 that asks if anything is too hard for the Lord goes on with a key element. The Lord says, “at the appointed time…”
In other words those hopes and dreams, purposes and plans (if they are from the Lord) are set in his time to bring Him the most glory and do the most to build up the Kingdom. It matters not to Him if you are 20 or 30, 40 or 50, or even 70, 80, or beyond.
Seniors are not necessarily sedentary and many are on the move in more ways than you might think. Last year, at 74, I published my first book after dreaming of writing a book since high school. In the recent release of the movie, “Mary Poppins Returns,” Dick Van Dyke (now 93) does a cameo reprise of his role from the original Mary Poppins movie from 54 years ago and does all the dance moves himself.
We can challenge our unbelief if we leave the hopes and dreams in the Lord’s trusting care for his timetable.
We also can challenge our unbelief if we keep in mind that big hopes and dreams can never be accomplished without Him so we know when it is “the appointed time” He will do “exceedingly, abundantly above all we can ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).
He loves us best and knows us better than anyone.