When Faith Falters Part 1
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
When Faith Falters
Gen 12:10-13:4 (Living)
10 There was at that time a terrible famine in the land: and so Abram went on down to Egypt to live.
11-13 But as he was approaching the borders of Egypt, he asked Sarai his wife to tell everyone that she was his sister! "You are very beautiful," he told her, "and when the Egyptians see you they will say, 'This is his wife. Let's kill him and then we can have her!' But if you say you are my sister, then the Egyptians will treat me well because of you, and spare my life!"
14 And sure enough, when they arrived in Egypt everyone spoke of her beauty.
15 When the palace aides saw her, they praised her to their king, the Pharaoh, and she was taken into his harem.
16 Then Pharaoh gave Abram many gifts because of her--sheep, oxen, donkeys, men and women slaves, and camels.
17 But the Lord sent a terrible plague upon Pharaoh's household on account of her being there.
18 Then Pharaoh called Abram before him and accused him sharply. "What is this you have done to me?" he demanded. "Why didn't you tell me she was your wife?
19 Why were you willing to let me marry her, saying she was your sister? Here, take her and be gone!"
20 And Pharaoh sent them out of the country under armed escort--Abram, his wife, and all his household and possessions.
1,2 So they left Egypt and traveled north into the Negeb--Abram with his wife, and Lot, and all that they owned, for Abram was very rich in livestock, silver, and gold.
3,4 Then they continued northward toward Bethel where he had camped before, between Bethel and Ai--to the place where he had built the altar. And there he again worshiped the Lord.
Today, I want to speak about “How to Keep Your Faith from Faltering”.
One of my favorite Hymn writers is Fanny Crosby.
Although she was blind, Fanny Crosby wrote over eight thousand hymns.
There is a great story behind how she came to write the Hymn titled “All the Way my Savior Leads Me.”
The story has it that Fanny was worried about money that she needed to pay bills.
She needed five dollars and she did not know where she would get it.
Instead of letting her faith guide her, she let her fear consume her.
As she was worried about the situation a knock came at the door; it was someone who felt led to give her five dollars.
This person had no idea of her need but felt led to give Fanny this amount.
To Fanny, this was a rebuke of her lack of faith and trust in the Lord.
It was out of a faltering faith that Fanny Crosby wrote: “All the Way My Savior Leads Me.”
In the believer’s journey of faith, there are going to be those moments when faith falters.
Just as Fanny Crosby had a faltering faith, today’s study of Abram will reveal a faltering faith.
And if we look into our own journey of faith, we too will see moments where our faith faltered.
You could say that a faltering faith is inevitable, but it does not mean that we should not try to avoid it at all cost.
Any study of the life of Abraham is a study that can help us learn lessons that may help our faith grow.
This study may help us realize the attitudes and choices that can hamper our journey of faith and perhaps we can avoid those attitudes and choices when they come our way.
We must remember that the journey of faith is a process of maturity and that there are different stages within the process.
There are stages of great success and there are stages of great defeat.
And our faithful God uses both success and failure to mature us in our faith.
Abraham started his journey of faith in Ur, but along the way, he was sidetracked and he and his father Terah settled in Haran.
But after his father died, he responded in faith to God’s call and continued on his journey until he made it to Canaan.
In our text today we find Abram in Canaan, the place where God wanted him to go.
You could say that Abraham is in the center of God’s will, but that would soon change.
It would change because trying circumstances would come to test Abram’s faith and Abram’s faith falters.
Abram’s faith will crash in our text, but the crash is not terminal.
God in his faithfulness will use Abram’s failure to bless Abram and grow Abram in his life of faith.
It is from these verses that God’s
people can learn how to keep their own faith from faltering when they face trying times.
The first lesson that will help God’s people in their journey of faith is that they must realize that faith matures through challenging circumstances.
Verse 10 of Genesis 12 informs us that “Now there was a famine in the land; so Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land.”
Sojourn is a word you may not be familiar with: it means to “halt,” “rest” or “stop over.”
The challenging circumstance for Abram is a famine in the land.
In fact, the end of verse ten tells us that this famine was severe.
The Hebrew word translated “severe” has the meaning of burdensome or difficult.
You could say that the famine was very challenging for everyone who lived in the land.
It was not uncommon for this area in which Abram found himself into experience drought.
The natural environment of that region was very fragile because it depended on the rains that came in the winter and spring months.
If these rains did not come at the time needed, or if it was less or more than expected, or if it failed to rain at all, then the planting and harvesting were negatively affected.
This difficult circumstance would become a challenge to Abram and a test of Abram’s faith in the Lord.
The challenge of Abram’s faith can be understood when we become aware of the nature of the summons to the life of faith given in the previous verses.
Abram first heard the call of God upon his life while he was in his birthplace, Ur of the Chaldeans.
Abram was to leave Ur and go to Canaan.
Canaan did not compare to Ur when it came to luxurious comfort.
Ur was a port city, fed by two great rivers, and rich soil there brought about a great harvest.
Canaan, on the other hand, had a very sensitive environment that could bring about famine in the land at any time.
The challenge to Abram’s journey of faith would be doubt concerning the will of God.
Can you imagine what Abram thought as he realized that the land that the Lord promised to him would not be able to feed him and his family?
I imagine that Abram was a lot like you and me, he probably started questioning the will of God for his life.
How many times have you stepped out in faith, and when you got to where you were going you faced difficulty, and you think, “I have made a mistake?”
That’s our tendency as humans, and that is often the challenge that we face when circumstances such as this come our way.
We begin to doubt the will of God because somehow we got the notion that being in the center of God’s will means that we do not face challenging circumstances.
Quite the contrary!
God will often send us through challenging circumstances to mature us, and if we are going to meet the challenge and not begin to doubt the will of God, then we must recognize that challenging circumstances that come our way, come from the hand of a sovereign God.
The test to Abram’s faith is recognized when we remember the promises that the Lord gave to Abram in verses two and three.
God told Abram that he would take care of him and bless him as he set out on his journey of faith.
The test for Abram’s faith is found in his ability or lack of ability to put his total trust in the promises of God.
Challenging circumstances tend to cause fear, a fear that undermines our ability to trust God.
Fear causes us to question God’s ability to take care of us.
Fear causes us to question God’s ability to fulfill His promises.
The test for Abram’s faith, and the test for all who are on the journey of faith, in challenging circumstances such as this, is the ability to overcome fear with faith.
And when we fail to overcome fear with faith, when fear overcomes our faith, it is then that our faith will falter.
We Christians, who are on the journey of faith, must remember that we live in an environment that is challenging to the life of faith.
It is challenging spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Sin consumes the environment that we live in, and therefore this sinful environment will bring about many challenging circumstances for the Christian on a daily basis.
These circumstances come to test and try our faith, and if we respond to challenging circumstances with a wholehearted trust in God, our faith will not falter, but if fear overcomes faith, faith will falter.