In a Moment of Panic!

Am I the only one who has endured the humiliation of going to a military social event only to forget the name of someone important (like the commander’s wife)? Am I the only one who has stretched the truth (just a little bit) to save face and protect myself? Am I the only one who has panicked in a stressful situation and made a foolish decision?

I read Genesis 12:11–13 and say, “Whew! I’m not the only one!” Abraham, a man who became the patriarch of Israel, a friend of God, and a hero of faith, did all of these things.

Up until this time Abraham is pictured doing what God asked him to do. The Abraham portrayed in Genesis 12:1–10 seems to be calm and obedient, but the unexpected news of famine transforms this picture from calmness to anxiety. In fact, the first words reported from his mouth are words to encourage his wife to lie. Excuse me?

Before my criticism seems too harsh, I note that Abraham did not deny God, he simply forgot him. He was new to this “walking with God” thing and in a panic he turned to his own devices. At this point in his life this was his default, but—looking ahead—we will see how the default of panic was transformed to a default of trust.

In a moment of perceived powerlessness, Abraham made some poor decisions. Why? He was a man in process. His growing faith was tested and he failed the test. I find comfort in this tale of disappointment. You see, Abraham’s failure did not stop God from growing him into a mighty person of faith. Similarly, the mistakes you and I make will not keep God from growing us into the people he calls us to be. Because of Jesus, there is forgiveness when we sin and help when we panic. Our default can be one of trust as we keep our focus on God.

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