After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Grace, mercy and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
We all worry about something, don’t we? It could be work, or money, wife or children, that life isn’t what we wanted or expected it to be. It could just be that we’re losing our hair or we’re putting on a few extra pounds. There’s just always something to draw our concern. No matter how hard we try to put it behind us, to put it out of mind, there is always something that causes us fear or anxiety or doubt.
Abram’s worry was that he would never have an heir.
An heir would have been a blessing. It would have meant someone to care for the affairs of the family when Abram and Sarai became too old to manage their household. It would have meant someone to inherit not just the possessions and herds of Abram, but the traditions and the faith that he held dear in his heart. It would have meant a comfort and a hope that his line would live on even after he had come to rest in the arms of His Heavenly Father. Yet, his wife was unable to bear children, and was now advanced in years anyways. His only relative, his nephew Lot, was far removed from his tent. All that he had would fall to a servant, Eliezer of Damascus.
The truth was he probably tried to let it go. The fact that he had named an heir that wasn’t his blood perhaps meant that he made some degree of peace with the fact that, at 79 or 80, with a wife not that much younger than him, it was just never going to happen for him. Yet, in that moment, when confronted by the Word of the Lord in that vision, it was so much on his mind that he couldn’t seem to let it go. “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus? …You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”
It’s difficult to think about much else when something doesn’t work out the way we planned, when it turned out so different than how we had expected. Even when we try to put it out of our mind it comes creeping back when we perhaps least expect it to. Suddenly, even the peace we thought we had once made with it, it seems far distant and far removed.
The story of God’s covenant with Abram, the promise that His servant would be the father of a great nation whose descendants would be as countless as the stars in the sky, is such a beautiful story of God’s love and blessings that it’s perhaps easy, amidst the grand miracles, and wondrous promises of our God to miss the worry that seemed to grip Abram. He thought he would go to the grave without a child, and though He would live in the Kingdom, forever in the presence of His Heavenly Father, on earth he himself would be father to none and his line would die forever.
Yet the Lord, who judges not just by the words of our mouth, but by the meditations of our heart, would hear his pleas, and would listen not just to the fear and the worry that Abram would have, but also the sincerest desires of His heart. Even as listen to the text today, “Then the word of the Lord came to him” we can almost hear the voice of our dear Savior Christ Jesus, the Word made flesh, as he comforts the man. Much like in St. Luke’s Gospel where he reminds us, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Luke 6:33) He shows Abram that to trust in God is not to worry for what today has brought or tomorrow might bring, for our God, merciful and loving, cares for each of our needs in His own time and His own way.
So often, for as much as we may try to put things out of mind, for as hard as we may seek to pretend that they don’t matter or think that we have made peace with it, they still lurk in the back of our mind, just waiting for that moment to spring forward. It becomes a struggle for us as worry and doubt, as fear and anxiety seem to take hold of our lives. It makes it so hard to let go. Yet, what we see from Abram is a reminder of how it is that each of us, in those struggles, are meant to live. Remember, after all, the words of David in the 55th Psalm, “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” (Psalm 55:22) Then there is the reminder of St. Peter in his first Epistle, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, so that in due time He may exalt you. Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6 and 7) When we lay our worries and our burdens at the feet of our Lord, when we entrust them to our blessed Savior, we are reminded that all the peace we needed rested in the hands of our God and the power of His Holy Spirit.
Yes, there are going to be times when things seem bleak. There are going to be moments when it feels like our hope is lost and that all that’s left to us is to wonder and to worry about what possibly could come next. There are going to be times in our lives when our peace seems so far removed and far distant from our lives that we don’t necessarily know what’s left for us. Yet that’s the beginning of the story of what we face, not the end of it. Though He may not come to us in visions, our God is there to answer us regardless of the struggles or the challenges that we may face. In all of our anxieties and all of our fears, whatever worries or doubts we may have, our blessed Savior is there to take us by the hand, to show us that our prayers have been heard and that there is more to our lives, to God’s design, than that which so troubles us.
Listen, dear brothers and sisters, listen to the promise, to the covenant that is made with Abram. It’s not just a promise that he will have an heir. It is the promise that God hears not just the words that are uttered by His children, He sees what is in their heart, He feels what has left them heavy laden, and He is there for you in love, mercy and hope. Yes, it may seem like whatever it is that you are going through, or whatever it might be that you’re facing is impossible to overcome. Perhaps it is when we rely on the wisdom and the knowledge, when we lean too heavily on the understanding and the strengths of this world. Yet, as our dear Savior reminds us, through God Himself, nothing is impossible, even that which seems so unattainable and hopeless to man. (Matthew 19:26)
Now is not too late. Whether we are 9 or 90, it is never too late in our lives to turn to God and to lay it all at His feet. He is ready and waiting for you, His dear and beloved child, formed by His hand, known by Him before you even drew your first breath. We need not forfeit peace or surrender our hope any longer. God is waiting for us to come to Him as we are with our ever need that He may show us the true nature of His plan for us. Take it to Him in all sincerity, trusting in Him, trusting in His Word and His promises for you, believing with all your heart that He cares for you and will take care of you, and He will show you grace beyond measure, as His righteousness becomes your righteousness.
Now may the peace of the Lord that transcends all human understanding keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus even unto life everlasting, Amen.