Hoping Against Hope

He had been promised he would be the father of many nations. But we know the story, Abraham had great difficulty becoming the father of but one child. And yet, as I read Romans 4 this morning, he is called the “the father of all who believe.” Talk about your plentiful progeny!

So, how come? What’s the secret sauce for a man who considered his body already dead trying to have a baby with a wife whose womb was demonstrably dead? Apparently, it’s hoping against hope.

[Abraham] is the father of us all. As it is written: “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, the One who gives life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not exist.  He believed, hoping against hope, so that he became the father of many nations according to what had been spoken: “So will your descendants be.”  He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body to be already dead (since he was about a hundred years old) and also the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, because he was fully convinced that what God had promised, He was also able to do.

(Romans 4:16b-21 CSB)

Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as the substance (NKJV), or reality (CSB), of things hoped for. This morning I’m chewing on a definition that seems to extend that a bit, faith is hoping against hope.

It’s one thing to hope in something for which the odds are favorable (like a couple in their early twenties hoping to have a child). It’s another thing to hope in something that’s almost for sure hopeless. Abraham’s body was a good as dead. Sara’s womb was past being dead. Shouldn’t hope have been dead as well? I’m thinking. But when hope was dead within him, Abraham went on hoping in faith.

How come? He was fully convinced that what God had said He would do, God was able to do. That his God was not just a god of wishful promises, but the God of eternal purposes and wondrous power.

Hoping against hope. Fully convinced God is able to do what He says He will do. That is the faith which credits righteousness apart from works (4:6-12). That’s also the faith which causes the people of God to keep on keepin’ on when keepin’ on seems to be leading nowhere.

Hopeless is what demonstrates God’s power the most. Moving forward when it’s not even clear where forward is demonstrates His people’s faith the most — even when that faith is fragile. Hoping against hope, full convinced. Not because of how strong our faith is, but because our faith, even if only the size a mustard seed (Mt. 17:20), is in Him who is strong.

Hoping against hope. Fully convinced.

Only by His grace. Always for His glory.

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