Over the next few weeks I plan on writing about the connection between a lack of communication and family dysfunction. As I’ve been reading through the book of Genesis I have noticed that, even in the great families of faith and God’s favor, when communication wavered, dysfunction thrived. My prayer is that the piecing together of events, over several generations, will bring hope for healing and a plan for health and freedom for our families, thousands of years after the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is the third post of the series.
I Corinthians 1:20 says “For all the promises of God are ‘Yes’ in Christ.” Have you ever noticed that most of the promises of God are followed by a “How?” in our hearts? Abraham would be a great nation, but he had no children. David would be the king of Israel, but he was fighting with the Philistines. Jesus was the Messiah but He was being led to the cross. Every promise of God, those in Scripture and those that God has spoken to our hearts have moments if not long seasons in which everything in us asks “How?” far more than we shout “Yes!” Some of the question we must ask today are how do we communicate God’s promises in a way that calms our fears more than sets our course? How do we allow God’s promises to give us rest more than they give us direction? Does God speak to give us instructions or invitations, to call us to work or to release us from worry? Why does God speak and when He does, what does He desire us to do with His words?
Genesis 25 moves us from Abraham to Isaac. God miraculously gave Isaac and Rebekah to each other as husband and wife, as the couple that would continue the promise of making Abraham and his descendants into a great nation. The Bible tells us Rebekah and Sarah, the first mothers of Israel had something in common, neither of them could have children. Why does God choose the barren to give birth to His nation? Why does He use the weak to reveal His strength? Why does He come close to those who seem to deserve to be far off? All of God’s work is to reveal His character to us. He’s not working to show us our purpose or even His plans, He’s first and foremost revealing His heart. If we don’t know the heart of God we will always believe it’s our duty to figure out and accomplish the purpose of God, we will work for Him rather than resting in Him. God doesn’t simply take what we have, He gives us what He knows we will need. He didn’t search for a family to start a nation with, He came to a broken man and a barren woman and promised them that He would do in them what they could not do for Him, He would give them children so that He could make them a nation.
I’m sure that Isaac knew his story. I have no doubt that he had been told about his miraculous conception and birth, that Sarah had told him about how she had laughed with disbelief when God promised her a son and had never stopped laughing with joy from the moment she had given birth. He had seen the faith of his father when they went to make sacrifice, having wood and fire but no lamb, only see how God provided because Abraham believed. Isaac married Rebekah at 40 years old and I’m sure his plan and his expectation was that they would quickly have children and add to the promise that God had made. The promise couldn’t stop with him, they were supposed to become a nation so I’m sure Isaac never considered that the wife God gave him would be barren like the mother that had borne him. For 20 years Isaac and Rebekah had no children. What we don’t see in their story is Isaac taking another wife or Rebekah offering her husband her maid, all we are told about their years of barrenness is that Isaac prayed.
We’ve talked about how our struggles and even our sins pass from one generation to the next when we don’t talk about them, when we hide them or cover over them. Confession is not only a negative word or task, we don’t just confess our sins or our fears, we also confess our faith and we declare God’s goodness, wonders and promises. When fear is confessed it loses its power, when faith is declared it grows in its strength. Isaac knew his parents story, he knew it was his story but even more he knew that it was God’s story. When his wife couldn’t conceive, he didn’t look for ways to solve a problem, he trusted in and called on the One who gave the promise. Isaac prayed. Notice something in Genesis 25. When Isaac prayed God didn’t give a strategy or a plan. God didn’t tell Isaac that there was something that needed to be revealed or removed. Barrenness wasn’t in the way of God’s promise it was part of it. Barrenness wasn’t something in Rebekah’s line that needed to be dealt with and it wasn’t something from the enemy that needed to be removed or defeated. Barrenness was what God knew when He chose Rebekah, it was something He planned to use to show more of His love to and through Rebekah. Genesis 25 simply says, “Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.”
The same way that unresolved fear made its way from Abraham to Isaac, exercised faith also moved from the father to the son. What if we stopped asking “How?” and started saying “Yes!”? I don’t mean ignoring problems and needs but rather, praying from the places in which God has answered before. Isaac knew that God could provide a child because he was a child that God had provided. So, today, what if we start telling the stories of what God has done so that we can help each other believe what God will do? What if the first purpose of God’s promises is for us to believe? What if faith is the key, even before obedience can be? What if the plans of God are not for us to decipher, understand or accomplish, what if the plans of God are for us to believe, trust, pray for and rest in?
Have you ever noticed how differently Abraham and Isaac responded to the same promise and the same difficulty? Abraham was promised to become a great nation, but he had no children. Isaac had the same promise and the same circumstances. Abraham waited for children for nearly 25 years, Isaac waited for 20. Abraham had moments of fear and frustration, moments in which he asked God to do it his way, moments in which he took matters into his own hands. Isaac prayed. What was the difference? Abraham had waited for a promise, Isaac was living in one. Abraham had hope, Isaac had proof. Today, if you are waiting on God’s promises in your life, cling to your hope but look for your proof. As families and churches, we need to tell God’s story to each other more often and more clearly. We are not just people waiting for promises we are people living in promises but if we don’t communicate, if we don’t confess and declare the heart of God then we begin to forget His goodness and believe that He is waiting for us to work for His promises rather than knowing that He is most pleased when we are found resting in them. I can assure you of this, I don’t know what will happen or when it will happen but God’s promises are “Yes!”. Let’s stop carrying the “How?” from one generation to the next and simply tell all the stories of the “Yes!”. Let’s build faith that won’t fear questions and let’s pray prayers that trust that we are being answered because the One who listens is faithful to our hearts and to His Word.