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Faith and Courage— Two Sides of the Same Coin
The Biblical story of Abraham is profoundly human— a narrative full of twists and turns, triumphs and failures, poor decisions and their unintended consequences, and, of course, drama— much like a Netflix mini-series. Yet, throughout the trials of his faith, we see Abraham continually return to a place of trust in God’s promises. And the trajectory of his life models for us the possibilities and pitfalls of our own spiritual journey.
The Call and the Promise
In Genesis 12, Abraham, then called Abram, receives a divine call from God to leave behind the only land and people he’s ever known and travel to a place yet unknown, so that through him, God would bless all the families of the world.¹ Pretty tall order. Yet, this inaugurates the covenant— God pledging to make Abraham a great nation, to bless him abundantly, and to give his descendants the land of Canaan. The promise must have seemed improbable to Abraham, a nondescript man from an obscure country, but he obeyed nonetheless.
Abraham’s faith wasn’t one-dimensional— the Genesis account shows it being refined through tests and trials, success and failures. In Egypt, fearing danger, Abraham lies to Pharaoh about Sarah being his wife.² Not one of his better days. Later, anxious about lacking an heir, Abraham and Sarah take matters into their own hands, leading to the birth of Ishmael through Hagar.³ Probably one of his worst days. Yet even after these failures, Abraham returns again and again to faith in what God has spoken, as he is learning to trust in the timing and provision of the Promiser.
Courage and the Climax
Ultimately, Abraham’s faith journey crescendos in the test of the binding of Isaac, where God asks for the unthinkable— to offer up his son, through whom the covenant blessings were to flow, as a sacrifice to Him on Mount Moriah. Abraham obeys, demonstrating remarkable courage and trust that God could fulfill His promise even through death.4
Lessons for the Journey
What lessons can we apply from Abraham’s life? And how can we learn to have the courage to follow God into the unknown and do the unthinkable, even after a history of faith that may be less than stellar?
• Face the Unknown with Faith – Like Abraham, God often calls His followers out of their comfort zones into uncharted territory that requires faith and courage. Abraham’s “leave your country” first step models the courage to obey God, even when the destination is uncertain.5
• Grow through Failures – Our mistakes need not define us. Like Abraham, we can let them deepen our reliance on God. Need more proof? Remember David’s moral failure with Bathsheba and his restoration,6 and Peter’s denial and later reinstatement by Christ.7 They are pictures of Divine grace— and of the blessings of second chances.
• Wait on God’s Timing – The years between promise and fulfillment were Abraham’s training ground in patience. God frequently calls His people to endure patiently as His purposes simmer below the surface,8 or years of obscure preparation before emerging leadership,9 pleading in prayer before a longed-for miracle,10 or decades struggling with wounds before finding healing.11 May we likewise learn to wait on His timing, in all things.
• Cling to God’s Promises – When famine descended on Canaan, Abraham clung to God’s covenant promises despite being surrounded by doubt and discouragement.12 We, too, can hold fast to the many promises in Scripture, even when the road gets tough, and we can’t see our way forward.
• Act with Everyday Courage – While few undergo anything close to Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac,13 God calls each of us to cultivate courage through small, daily acts of faith— like sharing Jesus with others despite fear of rejection, giving generously in the middle of financial shortfalls, and forgiving deeply rooted hurts and offenses. Abraham’s supreme test at Moriah models courage through absolute trust in God’s faithfulness. And we build similar courage through daily acts of faith despite our fears and challenges.
• Bless the World – Embedded in God’s covenant with Abraham was a global vision. God’s covenant goal was always to bless all nations through one man’s radical obedience to Him. We join in this mission by living out faith-filled lives that shine His light around us, becoming the salt and light of the world.14
Putting All the Pieces Together
What a journey Abraham walked— from rookie to seasoned veteran, from an unknown nomad to the father of nations. And his life reveals the intertwined twin virtues of faith and courage, all in one amazing life. His journey illustrates that courage rests upon the bedrock of faith properly placed. For with faith as a mustard seed, Jesus said, “Nothing will be impossible for you.”15
But faith requires courage. And courage is undergirded by faith. Both work together to change a Saul into a Paul, and to make you into the person God created you to be.
In Abraham’s story, we see a life lived not perfectly, but faithfully. His journey gives us hope and courage to step out boldly as we learn to trust the God who guides the unfolding of our lives.
So what are you waiting for? Surrender and trust Him today.
1. Genesis 12:1-3
2. Genesis 12:10-20
3. Genesis 16
4. Genesis 22:1-19.
5. Genesis 12:1-4
6. 2 Samuel 11, 12:13, Psalms 51
7. Matthew 26:69-75, John 21:15-17
8. Galatians 6:9
9. 1 Samuel 16:11-13.
10. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
11. Mark 5:25-34
12. Genesis 26:1-3
13. Genesis 22:1-14
14. Matthew 5:13-16
15. Matthew 17:20.