Let’s focus on the right thing here, so as not to miss the significant point of this matter. The writer of Genesis summarizes Abram’s encounter with God (Genesis 15:1-6), in which God promises a son to him and Sarah, despite their advanced age. In response, “[Abram] believed God! [And] God declared him ‘Set-Right-with-God.’”
The danger here is in focusing too much on the incredulity of the circumstances and not enough on the reliability of God. Too often in these moments, we say, “How great was Abram’s faith! How tremendous to believe God against all the evidence of the circumstances. If only we had faith like that, then we could do the things he did!” We try to work up an “equal” feeling of faith within us. But while it is indeed true that God declared Abram as righteous—“Set-Right-with-God”—it is also true that the basis of Abram’s faith was that he saw God, he heard God. And seeing and hearing and focusing on God, Abram was no longer concerned about circumstances. He knew that God was able to perform what He had promised; he was able to rest his faith on God’s adequacy.
“What was it that made Abram’s faith so strong?” The answer is that he did not look at the difficulty, but he looked at the One who had promised. His eye was not resting on the problems, but upon the Promiser. When he saw the greatness of God, the might and majesty displayed before him, he said to himself, “It makes no difference how I feel or what difficulties may be involved. The Creator of that multitude of stars is quite capable of giving me an equal number of descendants.”
“He believed God! God declared him “Set-Right-with-God.” This is the confidence that is available to us when we adjust our focus away from our problems and toward the problem-Solver. It is not faith rising above our difficulties, it is faith that enables us to fix our sights on God—just seeing Him, just hearing Him, just trusting Him, just knowing Him, just remembering His promises and His fidelity and His provision and His protection and His power and His love.
Abram saw God, and seeing God gave him the ability to believe what God said. There would be a son—not despite advanced age; but because God said so!
Today, we focus too much on the difficulties and we struggle to muster enough faith to believe that good will prevail over evil. Stop it! Instead, focus on God and just believe what He has said! That shift will result in the power of God being exercised on our behalf, governing each moment of our lives.
“Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—He could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now He’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility He plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”—Hebrews 12:2, 3 (MSG).