“Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was severe in the land” (Genesis 12:10).
We’ve all heard the muscle-building adage, “No pain, no gain.” Of course, the saying is valid depending on the type of pain you experience. You can overextend yourself in weightlifting to a point where your body tells you something is wrong. But there is a healthy pain that comes through good old-fashioned effort. Exercise enthusiasts know that muscles grow strong when they are pushed.
Abraham’s faith was regularly stretched by circumstances. God permitted problems to enter the patriarch’s life in order to grow his character. When a drought struck Canaan, Abraham went down to Egypt to provide for his family—good idea. But he was concerned that his beautiful wife would be coveted by the Egyptians and taken from him at the point of death. So, he told a half-truth, which is another name for a lie—bad idea. He told Pharaoh only that she was his sister.
Things went well for a time until the Egyptian ruler decided to take Sarah as his wife. Despite the faults of Abraham, God sent plagues upon Pharaoh’s household. When he discovered Abraham’s deceit, he immediately sent him back to Canaan loaded with goods.
The story has a familiar ring when you consider what happened to Israel just a few generations later. Joseph’s family also went south during a time of famine. When things went sour, plagues fell on the Egyptians, and God’s people left with the riches of Egypt.
Abraham must have felt the pain of failure when trudging back home after his faith-catastrophe in Egypt. The story tells us less about his trust in God and more about the Lord’s patience with him. Isn’t that what we all need to build the muscle of faith? God is so longsuffering with us.
Dear Lord, when trials come my way today, help me to push myself to trust in You, even when it hurts.
For Further Study: Hebrews 12:9–11; James 1:2–4; 1 Peter 1:6–9