BELIEVING, CONTRARY TO HOPE
(Wednesday, June 14)
Today’s Epistle-reading, from Romans 4, is about Abraham, “who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And not being weak in faith, he did not consider the weakness of his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore ‘it was accounted to him for righteousness’.” (Rom 4:18-22)
Does Abraham’s faith in God’s promise have anything to do with us? Has God made any promises to us, which we are now challenged to believe, perhaps in a way similar to that of Abraham, “contrary to hope” and despite “the weakness of (our) own body”? Yes. As St. Paul writes further, after saying all-of-the-above about Abraham: “Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us.” Because we have been promised much more; we have been challenged to believe our good God’s good will for us much more, having been given the grace of the Holy Spirit so abundantly, in the Era of the Church. “Blessed are the poor in/by spirit,” He says, “for theirs is” – no more and no less – “the kingdom of heaven.” We are promised also to be “comforted,” and that we’ll “inherit the earth,” be “filled,” obtain “mercy,” and even “see God” in all things and circumstances. We already see these promises coming true in our daily lives, whenever we take the time to do as did Abraham, and be “strengthened in faith, giving glory to God.” We generally become more effective in whichever good intentions we pursue, when we let ourselves be blessed in this way, rather than listening to the voices of despondency and self-centered fear. Let us take a bit of time on this third day of the Post-Pentecost Fast, to strengthen our faith with a bit of heartfelt prayer and healthy reading, and perhaps jot down a few things for which we are grateful to God, that we may “give glory to God” and take a break from bemoaning or fearing all that is wrong or lacking in the world or in us. Let us let ourselves be blessed by His Spirit, as we are, for ours is the kingdom of heaven.