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Faith in the Shadows


Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is from Genesis 15:1-6.  But today, I want to just focus on a portion of the first verse:

"Do not be afraid, Abram.  I am your shield, your very great reward."

To put this in context we need to go back a little.  Just before this vision from God, Abram had taken part in a massive war.  At the end of the war the King of Sodom encouraged Abram to take some of the spoils of the war as his reward, but Abram refused any economic benefit from what he saw as God's victory.  

Here we see God telling Abram that God is his shield.  This should have come as a great comfort.  Abram had literally just done battle and experienced God's protection.  Then God tells Abram that God is his reward.  After refusing an economic reward from the battle, God ensures Abram that he will receive an even better reward.  What is Abram's response to this?  Doubt & Questions.

Abram spends the rest of this section expressing doubt that God can pay him anything worthwhile.  He expresses frustration at having no heir and needing to leave his great inheritance to his servant.  He clearly sees God's realm of influence focused on fertility, as that was the main function of the "gods" in the surrounding area as well as his homeland.  Abram is accusing God of not providing the one thing he expected from God.

Abram expresses doubt and questions God directly.  Later his faith is credited as righteousness.  Yet, when we ask questions or have doubts we often feel like we are outside of the faith circle.  We might feel like outcasts, or like our faith is broken.  Remember that we come from a faith tradition of doubts, Abram, Moses, and even all of the disciples struggled with doubt.  God can handle your doubt. God can handle your questions.  Take them into prayer with boldness like our faith ancestors did. 

Lord help us to be ok with our doubts.  Help us to trust you with them.  Help us to be honest about them.  Help us to show the next generation how to handle doubts with grace, honesty, and vulnerability.  Amen. 


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