By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
We see in this passage that Abraham obeyed God and went out to a place he did not know. He believed God! He believed in God's promises and ultimately became a man known for his great faith. If you are anything like me, you feel nothing like Abraham as you struggle with a lack of faith. For me, this lack of faith can range from a prideful reliance on self to a downright alarming faithlessness always resulting in crippling fear. The question that comes to my mind when I think of this struggle is, "How can we struggle with a lack of faith when we can so easily see the hand of God in our lives?"
When I look back on my life, I can clearly see the hand of God in EVERY situation! He has been incredibly faithful even when I have been incredibly faithless. One clear example was when the financial markets collapsed back in 2008. I was the manager of a manufacturing plant in Nevada. We fabricated steel joist which is heavily dependent upon commercial real estate. These markets dropped precipitously in the latter days of 2008. Our order books went from fairly robust to nothing in a matter of weeks. The price of steel, our main material, dropped by half before we could make the necessary adjustments. In short, my little world fell apart in a very short amount of time. Within a few months, we went from a booming business to bust and we ultimately had to go through the difficult task of laying off all of our employees.
As I went through this time, I struggled mightily with all that had happened. I have to admit that I asked on many occasions why God would allow the plant to close and so many people (including me) to lose their jobs...their livelihood. In my mind, I had worked hard and ran the business to God's glory. We made a ton of progress over the five years that I was there running the facility; yet there we were in that conference room telling our employees that we were shuttering the plant. Even in writing these words, the pain of what happened is still present in my gut.
During that time, I struggled mightily with things. I can't remember struggling with my faith in the sense of salvation but I certainly remember struggling with the practical aspects of my faith. My world had been changed and everything that I had depended upon for security in this world was gone. To make matters worse for me, I didn't have a job and it seemed that no one really wanted me. One by one, we were able to celebrate our former employees finding work. It was very good to see God's faithfulness as these people, many of whom were Christians, found work (in many cases better jobs).
Eventually, the Lord gave me an opportunity to move to South Carolina to stay with the company; but in the meantime, I struggled through the longest year of my life. In that time, I struggled with a staggering lack of faith; but as I look back, I see the hand of God and His incredible faithfulness. I also see amazing spiritual growth. We know from James 1, Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
And believe me, I have grown spiritually from the whole experience.
As we study the life of Abraham, we see that he was not without his moments of struggle with lack of faith. God promised to bless Abraham with many descendants yet Abraham and Sarah were childless. We read in Genesis 16, Now Sarai, Abram's wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, "Now behold, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid ; perhaps I will obtain children through her." And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. After Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram's wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife.
In this account, we see the breathtaking lack of faith on the part of Abraham and Sarah. They took matters into their own hands and the result was not good (though God worked even this to His glory). I write this to remind us that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). We struggle with things that happen in our lives including the loss of our earthly security; but we need to remember that God is always working for our good and His glory in all things.
And ultimately, we see that God uses us in our weakness for His glory and in this we see that all praise is to God for HIS faithfulness!