When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless” (Genesis 17:1)
Genesis 16:16 concluded by specifically stating that Abram was 86 years old when Hagar bore Abram’s child Ishmael. Now the very next verse, in Genesis 17:1, frankly dates the next narrative as being when Abram was 99 years old — a period of 13 years! Did Abram go 13 years without even hearing from God? It certainly seems possible. Abram had to live by faith during a painful time of waiting and probably of divine silence as well.
God’s timing is usually not what we would want or expect.
It has often been observed that God never says “Understand me”, but he does say “Trust me.” God’s timing is usually not what we would want or expect, yet we must continue believing in his goodness and wisdom, and obeying his Word, even when we may go through lengthy periods of seeming dryness and difficulty.
It may have been for you years since you felt like you really “heard” from God in the sense of his obvious blessing on your life, clear answers to big prayers, and a joyful apprehension of his presence with you. Yet God has spoken to us clearly in his Word the Bible, just as he had spoken clearly to Abram, and we must — like Abram — continue in faithfulness to God’s Word in the dry and difficult times, lengthy as they may be.
Abram was following God despite his struggles for each day of those 13 years. But then, in Genesis 17:1, God begins his address to discouraged, doubting, disheartened Abram by pointing to himself as the one true God.
God is God, so the only proper response to that reality is for us as humans to trust his Word and obey his instructions.
God reminds Abram of who his God is, and that God is able to do anything! God reminds Abram: I am El Shaddai, God Almighty. “Abram, I have all power, and so it is time for you to ‘ponder anew what the Almighty can do’!” And strikingly the next words out of God’s mouth are: “because I am God Almighty, your job is to walk before me as a blameless servant.”
On one hand, God is sympathetic to Abram’s doubts and fears, and is answering with promises and confirmation of his concern. Yet on the other hand, doubting God is never appropriate or excusable. God is God, so the only proper response to that reality is for us as humans to trust his Word and obey his instructions.
Faithlessness and fear, no matter how understandable from our perspective, is always a sin.
There is nothing God will not do for your good and his glory in the end.
So God holds himself up in front of Abram, not only so that Abram can be encouraged by the sight, but also so that Abram will be convicted. God does the same thing — over and over again — in the lives of believers in every generation.
Christian, God is still God. He could change your circumstances in a moment if he wished to. Yet according to his unfailing love and superior wisdom God is allowing the trials — and the timing of them — in your life right now. Your job then is not to understand all his reasons, but to trust his perfect plan and obey his clear instructions in the mean time.
Rest in him. Wait on him. He is God Almighty, and there is nothing he will not do for your good and his glory in the end.