Abraham’s life is soooo inspirational to me. He was nowhere near perfect, but his heart, overall, was bent on knowing God.
This morning as I read in Genesis 22, I saw two verses that I’ve not noticed before. That chapter is about Abraham’s infamous test of obedience. He comes through that experience with flying colors. And then he hits a wall. Verse 20 says, “Soon after this, Abraham heard that Milcah, his brother Nahor’s wife, had borne Nahor eight sons. Verse 24 says, “In addition to his eight sons from Milcah, Nahor had four other children from his concubine.”
Why are these verses included? What’s the point anyway? Here’s my thought:
Abraham’s life had not been an easy one. He’d trusted God when He told him to leave everything familiar and go to a strange country. He’d trusted God for a promised son even though it meant more than 20 years of waiting. He’d taken a detour when he slept with Hagar, and later felt the pain of sending her and Ishmael into the wilderness to keep peace with Sarah. Most recently, Abraham had just come through the most challenging experience of his life, when God asked him to be willing to sacrifice Isaac. His actions had proved his faith in God and marked a huge spiritual victory. And then comes verse 20.
“Soon after this, Abraham heard that Milcah , his brother Nahor’s wife, had borne Nahor eight sons.” Add the concubine’s four kids, and the brother has 12 offspring.
How did Abraham feel when he heard that news? He’d been faithful to God, willing to obey to the nth degree, and yet he had only one son by Sarah. Nahor had eight sons by his his wife. I wonder if Abraham compared his situation with Nahor’s and felt a twinge of jealousy. Maybe hearing this news, shortly after his spiritual high, bred some questions: “God, this isn’t fair. I’ve done so much on Your behalf, and yet You’ve blessed my brother more than me. What’s with that?”
It’s common to hit a wall after a spiritual victory. Sometimes we hear of someone else’s blessings and, with a twinge of jealousy, we compare our situation to theirs. Perhaps our faith journey has been more trying than theirs. It seems as though theirs is a stroll down Easy Street while ours is an ongoing trudge through Deep Valley. One glimpse at their situation tells us that they appear more blessed even though we’ve gone through tougher stuff. “What’s with that? It’s not fair, God.”
Yes, I wonder how Abraham felt. Scripture doesn’t tell us, but I have a hunch that he may have struggled a bit. After all, he was human like me and you. I can identify because I’ve struggled with comparison, too.
In the end, though, we have to trust that God knows what He’s doing. He sees the big picture. He’s just and righteous and makes no mistakes.
“God, please keep my (our) eyes on You. Make me aware if I begin comparing my situation with others. Give me a heart that rejoices when others are blessed, and help me trust You for every detail of my life. Amen.”