Don’t believe in yourself

Funny, but that title is the complete OPPOSITE of what you have been taught your entire life. Everyone: parents, teachers, friends, pop culture, and the world tell us all to “believe in ourselves” – and that’s it. That’s the end; and that’s the goal. That’s the key to unlocking all of our hopes and dreams, the way to find contentment and achieve what we work hard to get.

The Bible doesn’t teach that nonsense, though. God told Abraham: “‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you'” (Genesis 22:2). Talk about not being able to believe in yourself. Abraham must have been crushed. The God who promised him that he would have a son in his whole age that would be the Savior of the world now told him to kill off his chances. Abraham had the opportunity to trust in himself. Did he? The Scriptures say he didn’t.

“Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, ‘Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.'” (Genesis 22:3-5). He didn’t rely on himself. He did what was right and good. He followed God’s command and his faith was “credited to him as righteousness” in this test from God.

What do we do? When things don’t go well, don’t we typically say that we can handle it? Don’t we work hard to solve the problem? Don’t we “believe in ourselves”. Then when God comes and tells us to “sacrifice our son” or “give up your friend” or “lose your job” “or be diagnosed with cancer”. What do we do? Do we run to follow God when he sends these trials? Or do we run to ourselves, emptied of our self-worth.

When that doesn’t work: we fill in our self with alcohol, drugs, addictions, lusts, and evil. Our difficulty may be masked, but the root of the pain remains.

Back to God: in another passage when God tells Abraham that he would be a father in his very old age, the Bible says that Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. Now, he tells him to kill that son, who God promised would be the ancestor of the Savior. Abraham did it… almost.

“Then he [Abraham] reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven,
‘Abraham! Abraham!’
‘Here I am,’ he replied.
‘Do not lay a hand on the boy,”’he said. ‘Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.'” (Genesis 22: 10-12)

God tested Abraham so that he would not rely on himself, but on the God who makes and fulfills promises. God promised to send the Savior, so Abraham trusted that even if God asked him to kill his own son, God would have the power to fulfill his promise.

When our road gets tough, don’t focus on YOU and don’t turn to the THINGS that lead you to sin so that you can mask the pain. God selected Isaac, the “son of the promise” to be the father of many nations, the human ancestor of the Savior. This son was dead in Abraham’s eyes, but God gave him back to his father so that he could fulfill the promises that he made and bring salvation to the world. Even when things look their bleakest, God uses our experiences for his glory. He did for Abraham; he does for Abraham’s descendants who follow the same Christ in faith.

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