The book of Genesis fascinates me every time I dig into it. The richness of the stories both grand and small. The very real people's lives we get to look into with an authenticity and depth we rarely experience outside of perhaps a few close relationships.
There are several interesting story lines in this section, but the thing that struck me this time through Genesis was Abraham's character; the good, the bad and the ugly of it and how this can actually bring us comfort today. Please understand that I have tremendous respect for this incredible patriarch of God's chosen people. In fact it is because he deserves our deep respect that I think we can receive peace and comfort when we look honestly at the full picture of Abraham's character.
On the good side, Abraham had such faith and confidence in God that he followed God into a completely new direction for his life. He left his security and everything familiar to go where ever God told him to go. He even believed and trusted God so completely that at over 100 years old he was willing to follow God's test of his faith and sacrifice his only heir and son, until God stopped him at the last minute. Personally I do not know that level of faith. I do not think I could have done what Abraham did on the mountain with Isaac. Abraham shows tremendous faith in God.
On the ugly side, I am grateful that God includes in the Holy Scriptures the very significant lapses in Abraham's faith and character too. On Page 27 Abraham shows an incredible lapse in character and faith in God to protect him when he passes Sarah off as his sister to King Abimelech and then the King takes Sarah into his harem. I have to admit that I can be very judgmental of Abraham when I read this story. I think: "WHAT..!!! Are you kidding me Abraham, how could you be so fearful? Less than 12 months ago God sat face to face with you and personally promised you that Sarah would bear you a son within a year, how could your faith be so overcome with fear and desert you."
It is easy to read that story and be indignant about Abraham's severe lapse in character and faith. But I think this is where the application of this story can really help us. As I humbly walk with Jesus and I listen to the Holy Spirit in my day in day out life, I am often made aware of the significant lapses in my own character and faith. Truth be told about my lapses, they are for reasons much less dire than the possibility that my life is about to be taken, as was Abraham's fear. My lapses normally come out of the fear of losing my job, or that my kids might struggle, or health issues for loved ones, or that I will not have enough money to retire as I desire. These lapses in my faith and even character happen even though I can also point to specific examples of God's incredible faithfulness in every one of these very same areas.
Whatever the reasons behind our character lapses, or the times when we find our confident faith has deserted us, we can take comfort in these stories of Abraham and Sarah. Even the patriarch of God's people was fearful, struggled to trust God at times, and suffered severe lapses in character. When fear, past pain, or life's current circumstances overwhelm us and we respond poorly, know that God is not far and that His deep desire is to have us draw close to Him - not push Him away or spiritually run and hide. We can soon enjoy profound peace and comfort after our lapses, if we humbly draw close to Jesus and allow Him through the Holy Spirit to teach us how to be more consistent in our character and increase our faith (Matt 11:28-30). He is the most gentle and faithful of teachers, and He always rewards the humble heart who draws near! May the Lord comfort you as you draw close to your Heavenly Father.