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Have you ever argued with God? If not, why not?

August 14, 2013

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11.1). Faith is hard. It is hard to trust in something you cannot see. It is even harder to have faith when what you have faith in is the opposite of what you see around you. This is where Abram/Abraham found himself for most of his life.

(Abram = ‘exalted ancestor’ but God changed Abram’s name to ‘Abraham’ = ‘ancestor of a multitude’ at the time when God told him that Sarah would give him an heir. So for here I’ll call Abram/Abraham, by the more familiar ‘Abraham’)

Have you noticed that in Genesis Abraham is forever arguing with God. Have you ever had an argument? – of course you have! Have you ever argued with God? If not, why not? I am called to be honest with God. So, if something seems wrong with my relationship with God, then there is no point in my hiding my upset or disappointment. God knows how I feel. God knows whether or not I say something or deliberately pray to God. Every thought and emotion is already known to God.

Prayer isn’t important because it is how we let God know things! Prayer isn’t for God’s sake, it is for mine. In prayer I own up to how I actually am, how I really feel. Then I bring all of that, the bad thoughts and actions as well as the good, to God. Then God can work with me.

So I need to be honest with God; Argue with God, just like Abraham argued with God and just like the Psalmists argued with God.

This is what Abraham did. He trusted God, he obeyed God, but he was also honest enough to argue with God. Abraham was angry with God and he had good reason. Abraham had set out from the land of Haran at the age of 75, trusting that God would keep his promise and make him a great nation. But there he was, he had been travelling for many years, he’d been to Egypt and many other places, he’d fought battles but he was still no where near the promised land, and what is more he still had no children. So, God how was he ever going to be the father of nations? Abraham was angry, and he told God just how he felt. And God, well God just repeats his promise to Abraham that he will indeed have children by his very elderly barren wife Sarah, and he will be the father of nations. God’s promise did come true, but only when he was 100 years old, 25 years after the Abraham first received God’s promise and set out in faith.

I have real sympathy for Abraham. If I ever live to be 99 I wouldn’t believe it if someone said to me that we will have another child. I would laugh. I’m not sure that I’d want a baby at the age of 100, but that aside I would find it hard to believe even if I thought God was telling me so. I would also have trouble remaining faithful to God for so many years when there is no sign of God’s promises coming true. So as well as sympathy I have great admiration for Abraham and his unshakable faith. Abraham may have argued with God but he never stopped doing what God wanted of him.

That’s all very serious but there is one point that I’ve missed. All through these arguments with God, arguments that go on over years, Abraham and Sarah laughed. They laughed because they thought God was joking with them. Then when the promise came true they called their son ‘laughter’. Yes, Isaac means “he laughs” or “he will laugh”. In all of Abraham’s faith and argument and worry, there was laughter. In all of my faith, and argument with God and worry, there should be laughter.

I need to let myself laugh in the midst of whatever is happening in life. There is always room for laughter. There is even room for laughter in the midst of tears. So, I think of Abraham, I. Learn from his faith, but I also learn to be honest enough with God to argue and laugh in his presence … it’s good practice for heaven!

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