|Marc Chagall, Abraham and Sarah (1956)|
For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, "I have made you the father of many nations")—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become "the father of many nations," according to what was said, "So numerous shall your descendants be." He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith "was reckoned to him as righteousness."
Now the words, "it was reckoned to him," were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.
- Romans 4:13-25
Abraham and Sarah were “as good as dead.” Have you ever felt as good as dead? I honestly haven’t, but I’ve known people who have. Hopelessness is the enemy of faith.
Abraham and Sarah chose to deny that their impending death was a factor. They trusted God. This is the real definition of faith: not intellectual assent to a list of dogma, but simple trust that all is in God’s hands. Julian of Norwich wrote, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”
In the meantime, we are to be alive. Hope sustains life, and faith fills life with meaning. When we have faith—when we trust that God is with us and always will be, to the bitter end—we are freed to enjoy the life we are living. I think this is what Jesus meant when he said, “I came that they might have life, and life abundant.”
And not only did Abraham and Sarah live ... they produced new life.
Here’s Electric Light Orchestra with one of my favorites anthems of life, hope, and faith: “I’m Alive.”