In God We Trust…
There are some difficult things to read and understand in the Old Testament. The story of Abraham, his wife Sarah and their son Isaac are among the most heart wrenching. They waited so long to have a son, a child of prophecy through which all the generations of Earth would be blessed, and in old age Sarah did conceive and bear Isaac to their great joy and in answer to prayer and great faith. Then Abraham was asked to take Isaac in his youth and offer him as a sacrifice to God. Indeed, this is a difficult story to read.
The great faith of Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac give me great cause to exercise faith as well. How could this thing be asked? How, after all that was promised, could this be done? I suppose that one could ask a different question. How, with all the miracles that Abraham had seen in answer to his faith exercised, could he withhold anything from the Lord his God?
Nevertheless not everybody trusts in the Lord as we should. Abraham’s nephew Lot and his wife had seen miracles as well, yet when the time came to do as the Lord commanded, even in the face of miracles, Lot’s wife could not give up in her heart the world of Sodom and Gomorrah, and thus fell to its wickedness. She knew the miracles of God, but her belief was in those things behind her, and she lacked faith to see what was before her.
Of Lot’s wife and her misdirected faith Elder Jeffrey R. Holland shared this: “It is possible that Lot’s wife looked back with resentment toward the Lord for what He was asking her to leave behind. … So it isn’t just that she looked back; she looked back longingly. In short, her attachment to the past outweighed her confidence in the future. …I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead and remember that faith is always pointed toward the future” (Ensign, Jan. 2010).
“And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead and remember that faith is always pointed toward the future.”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
In contrast to the salty choices and fate of Lot’s wife, Abraham showed true faith, and withheld nothing from the Lord. I do not doubt that this was the most difficult hour in all of Abraham’s journey of faith and trial, but Abraham did not withhold from the Lord what the Lord had given so freely. There was clearly a lesson to be learned, it was Abraham’s to learn, and he did not fail.
We read in Genesis 22, that God said to Abraham, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering.” So Abraham did as he was required, and when he arrived at Mount Moriah “Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. …By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice” (Genesis 22:2, 9-12, 16-18).
Surely Abraham went from the most heart wrenching moment of his life, to the most joyful and grateful moment of eternity, as he was enlightened to understand Heavenly Father and the infinite sacrifice and atonement that would be made for all God’s children through His Son Jesus, His Only Begotten. Abraham learned of the justice of God, and the mercy brought about by that same justice.
With Presidents’ Day upon us I have pondered as I do the wisdom and contributions of those who have served most faithfully in that office upon which we require the greatest of effort be given to the preservation of our freedom. Those most wise, and have served most well, have placed their reliance and faith upon the God who blessed us with the greatest measure of freedom, our agency to choose. Simple words not so simply said, were those of our first President of these United States, George Washington, which he added to the conclusion of the oath of office received upon his inauguration, “So help me God” (April 30, 1789). He knew where to look, and in whom he should find the strength and guidance to lead. President Washington looked forward in faith.
“So help me God.”
President Abraham Lincoln, also looked forward with cause and hope, with faith in God, and trusting in His justice and wisdom to be true. During his second inaugural address, near the conclusion of the terrible Civil War, he said these now immortal words. “Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-men’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn by the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether’” (March 4, 1865).
“The Almighty has His own purposes.”
Yes, the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous. Men of wisdom and godly judgment from Abraham of old to the Abraham who preserved the union, have always given trust and deference to the wisdom and judgment of God. Prophets of God, parents, priests, and presidents who serve in righteousness do not withhold from the Almighty their faithfulness to His commands. By looking forward in faith, and not backward in regret or reluctance, we see the path and lead the way. As is so plainly stated in the official motto of the United States, “In God We Trust.”
I too trust in the justice of God, for out of His true and just mind came the heart to provide mercy and the infinite atonement. It was in similitude of that infinite atonement that Abraham and Isaac together sacrificed that ram caught in the thicket, provided by the creator who provides all that we may fulfill His will. It is in similitude of that same blessed gift that we partake of the broken bread and water as emblems of His body and blood shed for us. I do not understand in anything close to perfection the balance of justice and mercy provided by our loving Heavenly Father, but I do know to trust in Him, for in Him there is safety and salvation. May we all continually trust in Him and His justice, even as did Abraham. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.