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Romans 4:1-25

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he promised.

(verses 18-21)


“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed.” I love that turn of phrase. It captures so concisely the context and perseverance of Abraham’s faith. There was not a single chance that Abraham and Sarah would have a child at this late date. Not a drop of hope. Nada.

Yet … God had promised. That was the overwhelming game-changer. The promise became Abraham’s starting place, not the no-chance impossibility of fathering a child. He kept his ears attuned to the reverberating echo of God’s words.

The promise was the starting gate for Abraham’s race of faith – a race of endurance. If he had planted his feet firmly in the reality of his own history and experience, he would have been forever bogged down in impossibility. Instead, he put his feet in the starting blocks of faith, and gained traction. He looked reality in the face (“I’m too old! So’s Sarah!”), but didn’t stay there. He grabbed hold of the promise and looked beyond the moment.

When I read the Genesis account I get a clearer sense of the arduous race he was running. God’s promise came to him sometime during or before his 86th year. But his son, Isaac, wasn’t born until Abraham was 100 years of age. That’s 15 years of hanging tightly to a promise that was increasingly looking more and more unlikely. His body was aging. His wife was, too. The days were ticking past. Yet, the promise was his starting point. It was the grounding under his feet. He maintained the traction, not letting up, not slipping sideways, never getting off-track. Oh, he laughed from time to time, the collision of reality and promise sparking hilarity. Yet, he kept on believing, “being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he promised.”

All of this, Paul tells us, is meant to spur on our own faith. For us, apart from the promise, reality would be daunting. Abraham’s body was as good as dead. Our spirit was in similar state – dead in sin, that’s where we found ourselves. Attaining righteousness was a hopeless proposition. Yet, the promise intervened. Jesus himself “was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (verse 25).

So, be like Abraham. “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed.”Plant yourself firmly in the promise of Jesus. Do so even if the reality of this fallen world, and your own fallenness with it, presses in. Hold to Jesus. Cling to hope. Believe.


Father, thank you for the promise you spoke to Abraham. Thank you for your grace in preserving his experience for us. Thank you that you are faithful – your promise never fails.

Lord Jesus, thank you that your sacrifice is the game-changer. Thank you that in you the impossibility is overcome – life out of death. Praise your name.



Remember when you first placed faith in Jesus. Give thanks. In this current season, what additional “race of faith” are you running? How can you strengthen your stride?


Photo by Braden Collum on Unsplash

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