The story of Abraham teaches us that the life of confident faith is a dynamic journey with ups and downs. Our gut reactions aren’t what matters so much as where our confidence eventually lands. God first promised Abraham that he would have a family when he was seventy-five years old (Genesis 12:4). Over the next several years, it became clear that Abraham’s wife, Sarah, wasn’t going to have a child. After eleven years of trying, Abraham and Sarah decided that Abraham should have a child with Hagar, Sarah’s servant (Genesis 16:1–3).
Twenty-four years after God first promised Abraham that he would have a child, God reminded Abraham of His promise and let him know that he was going to have a son through his wife, Sarah (Genesis 17:15, 16). Abraham’s first response was to fall on his face and laugh (Genesis 17:17). Sarah responded the same way (Genesis 18:12, 13). Abraham and Sarah’s initial response would not win an award for best faith. However, their initial reaction wasn’t their final response. God appealed to them by asking, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14) In response, they became strong in faith. They didn’t let the deadness of their bodies keep them from believing (Romans 4:19).
Abraham’s life of faith continued and came to full expression when God asked him to sacrifice his only son. When faced with such a painful and heartbreaking command, what would he do? Abraham believed in a God who could give life to the dead (Romans 4:17). Abraham was convinced that God could make him a great nation even if he sacrificed his only son, because God would keep His promise by resurrecting Isaac from the dead. By his act of faith, Abraham did, in a sense, receive his son from the dead (Hebrews 11:12, 13).
Though Abraham initially laughed at God’s promise, his faith landed with certainty on God’s power promise to give life. It is because Abraham’s faith landed on God’s ability to perform all that He promised, including raising his son from the dead, that his faith was credited for righteousness (Romans 4:21, 22).
God’s life-giving power was fully and finally demonstrated in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. If our faith lands on the same life-giving power that Abraham’s landed on, we will be counted righteous just as he was (Romans 4:23–25). Faith isn’t a feeling; like Abraham’s, it doesn’t always start strong. Faith sometimes begins by laughing at God’s extraordinary promises. But if, in the end, it lands on the resurrection of Jesus, it brings in the guarantee of righteousness and everlasting life.