And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb. Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. Genesis 12:9-10 ESV
Abram finally arrives in Canaan. He is anxious to make it ‘home’ for his people but it turns out they can’t settle there yet because there is severe famine. Talk about disappointment! But there is no indication that Abram was confused and that famine shook up his faith. His faith sustained him when, at that moment, God’s character could easily have been questioned.
Famine will drive Abram and his family to Egypt and his faith will be tested there. God will use the circumstances to present the ‘perfect storm’. The one who has not wavered yet from almost perfect obedience to God will falter. God used adversity, like a famine, for the spiritual testing of this patriarch.
God is all about growing me up to a mature kind of faith, the kind Jesus had. How does faith grow? By testing what I know in the middle of the hard experiences of my life. I can say I trust God but to what extent is that true? Under what circumstances will my trust erode? I can easily tell others that God is a faithful Father but will I believe that when I’m in the middle of a trail and can’t trace His hand yet?
My first response to a famine in my spiritual Canaan can be to second-guess the decision I made to obey God and go there. That conclusion is spiritually immature. God can, and has, made promises to His chosen servants that were accompanied by adversity. He promised favor but led them to pitch their tent with enemies. He spoke of blessing but led them to the place where giants ruled. He spoke of a promised land but then afflicted it with famine. What kind of God is this?
Up to this point, Abram has been nearly perfect and someone hard to identify with. That is about to change. Our patriarchs were great men of faith but they were also human. The scriptures don’t whitewash their sins nor do they hide them. The lives of our forefathers were as messy as ours and yet we get to see God bless, correct, forgive, and then restore, time after time. It is a Father/child relationship after all.
If I have heard God’s call, followed at great personal cost, and found myself in times of hardship, I know that this is not the end of the story. God is in the process of transforming my faith while still being good for His promise.
And I should know better than to expect perfection in Canaan. Canaan is not heaven, after all. Help me adjust my expectations, rise above blaming, and call You good. Amen