Romans 4:18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
I don’t know how clear this is in Greek, but in English I think we have a hard time wrapping our minds around it. How often do we use the phrase, “Against all hope?” The Japanese expresses it as, “At a time when you couldn’t hope.” Paul goes to some length to point out just how hopeless Abraham’s situation was, but we still don’t think about it very often. Perhaps the most comparable situation was that of the disciples after Jesus’ crucifixion. Most if not all of them in fact did not believe, until Jesus personally appeared to them and demonstrated that He had risen. Interestingly, that should be a huge encouragement for us in whatever “hopeless” situation we find ourselves. God isn’t limited to the “possible!” We aren’t to be presumptuous or feel entitled, but if God said it, that settles it, period. Along with that, we aren’t to try to figure out how God might accomplish something. As He told Isaiah, His ways are indeed higher than ours, and His thoughts than our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9) One time I gave a prophecy to a couple that they would have a child, but said that God wasn’t making it clear to me that it would be the man’s, genetically, but that it would be the woman’s. Since the woman had had a hysterectomy, they naturally thought I had completely missed the boat. However, not so long after that, the woman’s daughter by a previous marriage, who had gotten onto drugs, had a baby she obviously couldn’t care for, and the couple legally adopted the baby, fulfilling the prophecy. I had already left the area and come to Japan, so I didn’t find out about it until a few years later. They told Cathy they remembered the prophecy, and apologized for doubting me! The point is that God simply doesn’t fit into any box we imagine for Him, and we’re far better off just taking Him at His word.
Even having experienced things like that, I still have trouble maintaining faith and hope at times. Ministry in Japan can do that to you! After 37 years of ministry in Omura, our current Sunday morning attendance is under ten – and I’m not talking about age! God has given us a vision of Omura again being the foremost Christian city in the nation, as it was 500 years ago, but how He’s going to accomplish that is a total mystery to me. I’m not to be lazy, certainly, but I’ve got to remember that it can only happen by God’s power, not man’s. I’m to be faithful on a day-to-day, moment-by-moment basis, allowing Him to use me or not use me however He chooses, so that all the glory may be His alone.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me remember that You are just as capable of working with me as You were with Abraham, and that Your power is in no way diminished. I continue to pray for the salvation of the people of Japan, to whom You have sent me, for their sake and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!