The following is a reflection on Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
This story begins right after Abram rescued his nephew, Lot, and several other people who had been taken as prisoners of war. In that part of the story, Abram once again swears allegiance to God. Despite this, when the story picks up in chapter 15, Abram laments that God has not yet fulfilled the promise to give Abram an heir. God answers by asking Abram to count the stars, and assures Abram that he will indeed have an heir – that he will be the father to as many descendants as there are stars in the sky.
After this, God goes a step further and promises land to Abram and his descendants. And then Abram asks the question so many of us have asked, “How can I trust you?” In response, God ritually enacts a covenant: God promises, at the cost of the death of God, to be faithful to this covenant.
This is God telling God’s own story, and we are blessed because of it. God puts God’s reputation on the line to fulfill the promise to bless Abram – and us. God takes a long time to fulfill this promise, but God does fulfill it.
The covenant in this story is made by God alone, by God’s own self. In it, we hear an echo of faith – reminding us that faith isn’t all about illumination and delight and happiness; sometimes, it’s also an ascent into the darkness of unknowing. In this we remember that, at its core, faith is trust. Trust, as we know, is built on relationship. And in our relationship with God, faith is knowing that when we cry out to God, we do so in the belief that God hears us and will respond. It may be that God doesn’t respond as quickly as we would like, but we can trust that God hears us and will respond.
Let us pray: We give you thanks, O God, for hearing the desires and laments of our heart. We thank you, too, for responding to our prayers and for fulfilling your promises. Amen.