From the pulpit: Trust in God requires look at facts

For this reason it depends on faith, so that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all of Abraham&8217;s descendants … in the presence of the God in whom he believes, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. Hoping against hope, he trusted that he would become &8220;the father of many nations… Therefore his faith &8220;was reckoned to him as righteousness.&8221; Now the words, &8220;it was reckoned to him,&8221; were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who trust in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.

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Romans 4

It&8217;s one thing to read Scriptures like this; it&8217;s another to absorb them.

Paul is making a landmark statement about what God seeks from us above all. Trust in God is everything. He sees this trust as taking place squarely in the face of our most incisive, negative assessments of life.

Paul sees in Abraham&8217;s faith the permanent context for the term, a trust that exceeds all hope. God didn&8217;t tell Abraham to shut his eyes to the facts. Instead, God called Abraham to be very clear about the facts and then to make a risky move.

In Abraham&8217;s case, it was to give two ancient, all but dead people a child. In our case, it is that our world is broken and walled in by the ever-present reality of death. It&8217;s an all or nothing call.

The only hope for us is resurrection from the dead. There is no cosmetic or even moral fix. Our world, and all of us as part of it, are dying. We can&8217;t stand to watch the news, much less go to places where life is crumbling into abyss. We stare at our own sin and mortality and want to pretend that the power of death somehow won&8217;t touch us. But there is no pretending.

Instead, there is only trust or distrust in the very face of the plain and obvious facts, facts that overwhelm our best hopes.

&8220;Hoping against hope&8221; is no light phrase. Yet all God seeks from us is to trust that God&8217;s grace is greater than all sin and death and all our fears of them.

This is the great leveling experience that Paul says travels with the story of Abraham. Death has swept over all of us. We want to shut our ears when the point is that only God can save us. The good news is that God has promised to do just that.

Robert Montgomery is pastor at Cahaba Valley Church