Being not weak in faith, (Abraham) considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb.
The essence of true faith is found in this single verse. God had just promised Abraham he would have a son, one who would become the seed of many nations. Remarkably, Abraham didn’t flinch at this promise, even though he was well past the age of siring children. Instead, when Abraham received this word from the Lord, we’re told he “considered not his own body now dead (nor)...the deadness of Sarah’s womb.”
To the natural mind, it was impossible for this promise to be fulfilled. But Abraham didn’t dwell on any such impossibility. According to Paul, the patriarch gave no thought to how God would keep his promise. He didn’t reason with God, “But Lord, I have no seed to plant. And Sarah has no life in her womb to conceive. My wife is past the ability to bear children. So, how will you do it, Lord?” Instead of entertaining such questions, Abraham simply “considered not.”
The fact is, when God is at work producing a faith that is tried and better than gold, he first puts a sentence of death on all human resources. He closes the door to all human reasoning, bypassing every means of a rational deliverance.
The faith that pleases God is born in a place of deadness. I’m speaking here of the deadness of all human possibilities. It is a place where man-made plans flourish at first but then die. It is a place where human hopes bring temporary relief but soon crash, adding to a sense of helplessness. Have you been at this place of deadness? Has it seemed you have no options left? You can’t call someone to advise you. The heavens are like brass when you pray, your requests falling to the ground.
I declare to you, this is God at work. His Spirit is working to get you to stop considering the impossibilities-to stop looking to human ways and means-to stop trying to think your way out of your situation. The Holy Ghost is urging you, “Quit hunting for help from some man. And quit focusing on how hopeless you think your situation is. Those are hindrances to your faith.”
Abraham didn’t stagger in his faith. Rather, he was “fully persuaded that, what (God) had promised, he was able also to perform” (Romans 4:21). He recognized that God is able to work with nothing. Indeed, our Lord creates out of a void. Consider the Genesis account: out of nothing, God created the world. With just a single word, he creates. And he can create miracles for us, out of nothing.
When all else fails-when your every plan and scheme has been exhausted-that is the time for you to cast everything on God. It is time for you to give up all confidence in finding deliverance anywhere else. Then, once you are ready to believe, you are to see God not as a potter who needs clay, but as a Creator who works from nothing. And, out of nothing that is of this world or its materials, God will work in ways and means you never could have conceived.
How serious is the Lord about our believing Him in the face of impossibilities? We find the answer to this question in the story of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. Zacharias was visited by an angel who told him that his wife, Elizabeth, would give birth to a special child. But Zacharias-who was advanced in years, like Abraham-refused to believe it. God’s promise alone was not enough for him.
Zacharias answered the angel, “Whereby [how] shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years” (Luke 1:18). Simply put, Zacharias considered the impossibilities. He was saying, “This isn’t possible. You’ve got to prove to me how it will happen.” It didn’t sound reasonable.
Zacharias’ doubts displeased the Lord. The angel told him, “Behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season” (Luke 1:20).
The message is clear: God expects us to believe him when he speaks. Likewise, Peter writes: “Let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:19, my italics).
I am convinced that right now the faith of the body of Christ is under fierce satanic attack. All the demonic hordes of hell, Satan’s amassed principalities and powers of darkness, are waging an all-out war against the faith of God’s saints.
We know that Satan has always brought intense attacks against God’s people, causing awful suffering. For centuries, the blood of martyrs has been spilled. Godly saints like Job have been tried severely. But the onslaught against the faithful we see today is Satan’s last stand.
Just as wickedness abounds around the world today, so do the afflictions and trials of God’s church. We’re seeing an unprecedented barrage of sickness, affliction, trouble after trouble, one problem after another-all of which make an overcoming life seem impossible to any believer. Yet, all that we are facing right now is supernatural:
We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
In Luke 22, We find Satan attacking Peter’s faith. Here was a godly man who was overconfident in his faith. In fact, Peter had just boasted before the other disciples that his faith would endure all trials and tests. He declared, in essence, “Others may waver, Lord, but not me.”
It happened at Passover, on the last day of Jesus’ ministry on earth. What was Christ’s response to Peter’s bold declaration of faith? He said to the apostle, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat” (Luke 22:31).
Some scholars translate the meaning here as, “Satan has demanded to have you, to sift you.” The word “sift” speaks of a repeated, violent shaking from side to side, then a tossing up and down.
Note that Jesus’ words here describe the same demand Satan made concerning Job. The devil had said to the Lord about Job, “Put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face” (Job 1:11). Now, at Passover, Satan wanted to try to destroy Peter’s faith in the same way.
Jesus forewarned Peter that the devil would sift him and attack his faith. Yet Christ assured him, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not” (Luke 22:32).
I am convinced Satan has intensified this same demand of sifting the Lord’s elect today. Why is the devil so determined to shake God’s righteous ones in our time? It is because he knows his time is short. It is because sin abounds and the love of many is growing cold. It is because he failed to bring down Job, he failed to bring down Peter, he failed to bring down generations of martyrs. So now he is determined to bring down the faith of this last generation.
Indeed, Satan’s attacks can become so overwhelming that our faith may experience an eclipse. Consider what happens during an eclipse: when the earth moves between the sun and moon, it obscures the light. For a time, the sun’s rays are interrupted.
Something similar can happen with the faith of even the godliest believer. Satan can bring trials that are so intense they seem to block the Light that empowers our faith.
Peter suffered a severe eclipse of faith. The once-bold apostle’s faith seems to have failed. Yet Peter was warned clearly that an eclipse of his faith was coming. Jesus told him, “The rooster will not crow tomorrow until you have denied me three times.”
Just hours later, Peter’s faith was in complete shambles. I can only imagine what went through this man’s mind to cause him to curse Christ and lie, saying, “I don’t know this Jesus you’re talking about.”
Did Satan flood Peter’s mind with doubts about Jesus actually being God in flesh? As I put myself in Peter’s place, I imagine him wondering many things during that awful night: “If Jesus were God, how could he allow such humiliation? How could he be God and yet not be able to deliver himself, let alone humankind?”
Peter’s faith went into a total eclipse. It seemed as though the shining sun of faith had been totally extinguished.
Yet Peter’s eclipse here is recorded for the comfort and encouragement of all believers who are enduring their own eclipses of faith. Have your trials become so intense, you’ve found yourself in what seem to be impossible situations? Now Satan has planted doubts in your mind: questions about God hearing your cries, doubts about the faithfulness of His promises, questions about the effectiveness of prayer.
A recent poll shows that atheism is spreading rapidly across America and the world. Some 30 percent of Americans now say they no longer believe in the God of the Bible. Their stated reason for this growing unbelief, especially among young people, is simply, “God never answered my prayers.”
I tell you, we are in the midst of war! You are facing evil powers, fighting for your faith against the father of all lies. He is the one who has planted all those little thoughts: “Where is your God? Things are going from bad to worse. Your pain, your suffering, your needs keep mounting. God has promised to make a way of escape for you. So, where is the way? Where is your God now, when you need Him most?”
You are now being shaken and sifted. And in the midst of it all, your faith seems to have failed. Like Peter, you are in an eclipse. You feel defeated, your faith in shambles. Beloved, I have good news for you: God is not mad at you.
Next Month, Part 2: “A Special Word for All Who Face Impossibilities.” Permission granted by: World Challenge, Inc., P. O. Box 260, Lindale TX , 75771. Ph: 903.963.8626.