by Sue Westhorp
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‘So Abraham called that place “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided”’ (Genesis 22:14).
I remember vividly the picture that accompanied this story in my children’s Bible – a young boy lying on a stone altar, trusting and calm, and a man with a beard, arms raised above the boy and holding a knife. It always struck terror in me, which is probably why I still remember it. I also remember the questions that ran through my young mind:
- Why would God ask Abraham to do such a horrible thing?
- Did Isaac have any idea what was about to happen, and, if he did, would he have run away?
- What if God asks my parents to do the same thing to me?
As an adult and a parent, I now wonder, what was going through Abraham’s mind as God asked him to sacrifice his only son? What was he feeling? There is no emotion portrayed in this passage, but our humanity and compassion call us to imagine how he felt. As a mother of an ‘only son’, my heart breaks – what God asks in this passage seems cruel and unfathomable. And if we leave it there, the love and grace of God seem absent.
And yet in this text, God, in his love and grace, provided a ram as a substitute for Isaac. In doing so, God blessed Abraham with many offspring – offspring that would form part of Jesus’ lineage. In our New Testament ears, the parallels between this sacrifice and the suffering, death and resurrection of God’s only son, Jesus, ring loud and clear. The message is clear – God does provide!
How I wish I had Abraham’s faith! God’s provision can be difficult to remember when I am in situations where I feel desperate, helpless, and unable to see a way forward. Perhaps it can be like this for you too, in these ever-changing times where COVID-19 dominates our lives and hope can feel fleeting. It’s at times like these that the words of the psalmist in many of the psalms (eg Psalms 10, 38, 130) remind me that my lament is not the whole story – God has provided before and he will provide again!
Loving God, help me to trust in your promise that you will provide all I need. When I am struggling, remind me of your love and grace in my life. Amen.