I can’t imagine anything worse than losing a child. When my children were babies and their fevers spiked, I felt utterly helpless. When they started driving, I prayed for their safety. Parents who watch their children go off to war have my deepest respect. That makes Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac so amazing to me.
Most parents who lose a child aren’t given a choice. Abraham was asked to willingly sacrifice his healthy, only son. That is a test I can’t comprehend. Yet Abraham obeyed. His example says much on facing an untimely death.
“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; 18 it was he to whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your descendants shall be called.’ 19 He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type” (Hebrews 11:17-19, NASB).
Abraham had prayed and waited and waited for God to give him a son. Isaac finally arrived when Abraham was 100 years old. Imagine the joy! Isaac was not only Abraham’s only son, he was the miracle child of promise. The fulfillment of all of God’s promises to Abraham lay in Isaac. Then God asked Abraham to do the inconceivable.
Abraham believed God could raise the dead even though he lived before the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He surrendered Isaac believing he’d see him again.
Abraham didn’t know when God would raise Isaac. But he knew God would keep his promise and bring Abraham descendants through Isaac.
This event brings hope when we face the death of a loved one. The New Testament puts it this way: “13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, NASB).
Of course, we grieve when we lose a loved one. But Christians grieve with hope. Just like Abraham, we believe there will be a resurrection and a reunion. We know our loved one in heaven is happier than he/she ever was here on earth (Isaiah 57:1-2).
Biblical faith not only changes how we live. It changes how we view death. Death is swallowed up in victory (I Corinthians 15:54)!
Two key aspects of Abraham’s faith will help us in our grief if we adopt them:
- We must trust God’s character and surrender to His will: “Thy will be done.” Abraham trusted God’s wisdom and ways even though he didn’t understand them.
- We must live with an eternal perspective. A thousand years are like a day to the Lord (2 Peter 3:8). We’re not home yet. A wonderful reunion awaits the family of God!
Losses don’t have to be as big as losing a loved one to rock us. How do you apply Abraham’s example of faith to your life and challenges?
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