Read Genesis 15:5-15
He (God) brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your descendants be." And he (Abram) believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15: 5-6 (NRSV)
As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him. Genesis 15: 12 (NRSV)
Jesus said to him (Thomas), "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blesses are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." John 20: 29 (NRSV)
Kurt Elward, from Virginia, thought he knew well the story of God's promise to Abram from today's reading - that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. Yet he had not really considered the rest of the passage. God told Abram to look up at the sky and count the stars in the heavens "if you are able to" (v.5,NRSV). Kurt always assumed that this took place at night, but after the words and events of the next seven verses we read, "As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram" (v. 12). This made Kurt wonder if it was broad daylight when God asked Abram to look up at the sky. If so, Abram would not have been able to see any stars, which would underscore the extent of faith and trust that the Lord was asking of him. Just as the stars were present but invisible at that moment, so God was asking Abram to have faith even when the fulfillment wasn't evident. Abram was willing to fully commit to God's plan for him.
How often do we expect our prayers to be answered on our schedule, rather than on God's? God's timing differs from ours as we are being brought along the path that God has laid before us. Our path forward may not be easy or clearly visible, but we can trust our loving God to keep promises.
Prayer: Faithful God, help us to trust that you will fulfill your promises. In that trust we will walk faithfully with you, in Jesus' name, amen.