Readings: Genesis 22:1-14; 2 Corinthians 6:1-10;
Time after time, when people make perhaps not the smartest decisions, we hear those around them saying, "Times are just tougher anymore; it's not as easy to make good decisions with all the world's pressures."
Today's readings will tend to disagree; in fact, our "tough decisions" these days kind of pale by comparison. Sure, there are still some of those gut-wrenching decisions we all have to make from time to time. But every decision? Hardly.
Let's look at some real tough decisions and see if we have it in us as they did during Biblical times.
For starters, Abraham...
Abraham was tested beyond what most any of us could endure--he was ordered to sacrifice his own son. And, in his fear/faithfulness to God, went through all the steps to do just this right up to raising the knife up over his beloved son who was bound and lying upon the sacrificial altar. To the great relief of us all, God mercifully stopped the sacrifice. Now that was a tough decision for Abraham. In fact, in our modern times, few--if anyone--would be able to put this into perspective and Abraham's defense of being a faithful servant of God would be no more understood than speaking in an ancient tongue. Those types of tests don't exist anymore--for that we are truly thankful. However, it also shows that our faith is not what it once was.
Jesus himself was not beyond being tested to the literal ends of the Earth. In Matthew, God and Satan agree to testing Christ through a series of extreme challenges and taunts that would bring the strongest of us to our knees. Satan pulled out all the stops--physical thirst and hunger, offers of universal power, psychological stresses--and yet Jesus was able to overcome through his faith in his Father. We today sometimes get pushed to the wall with offers of quick money, power, and unfortunately, our greed wins out and we fold. Those, in perspective of what Jesus endured, are walks in the proverbial park. We're pretty weak these days.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul laments all the difficulties faced by those called to share the Good News of Christ and the grace of God's love to give us eternal life. He warns his followers that start sharing the "good" news that they will be mocked, physically attacked, imprisoned, and perhaps killed for their beliefs. It was not a safe time for this young religion; it seemed that everyone was against them. Yet they persevered and, as result, we still have Christianity today--the rock of our being.
There are many evils in the world today; as we can see from these three instances in the Old and New Testament, the evils have always existed. The question now becomes...
"Do we have it in us?"
Time for us to look within, question our faith at its core, and pray for the guidance and strength it takes to rediscover the strength and endurance shown to us by our ancestors of long ago.
Peace be with you.