God put Abraham to the test

What sort of God asks for human sacrifice?   The famous “testing of Abraham” is a troubling account—that is, until we learn that God never intended for him to actually sacrifice Isaac.   Throughout the story, God was giving Abraham opportunities to deepen his trust and faith.   And Abraham passed the tests, all of them, with flying colors.

From the outset, Abraham deferred to God’s direction.   He didn’t hesitate in following God’s command, even though it meant sacrificing what was most precious to him.

The next test of their relationship arrived swiftly when God chose not to provide a map or tell Abraham exactly where to go.   All he said was Head toward Moriah, and I’ll tell you where to stop.   It’s the sort of navigational help that most people dread!   Still, Abraham went along with it. And sure enough, after three days of wandering, God showed him the place.

Another part of God’s test was psychological.   Would Abraham remain steadfast, even when heading toward his son’s death?   Yes, he would. Abraham assured Isaac of God’s faithfulness, even when Isaac asked him the heart-wrenching question “Where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7).

In all of these moments, we see why Abraham is called the “father of faith” (see Romans 4:16).   But it would also be appropriate to call him a father with great faith.    He was an example to Isaac, and he’s an example for anyone trying to follow God.

Although not as dramatic as Abraham’s story, certain aspects of our devotion to God might seem just as absurd to outside observers:  getting up early on a Sunday to go to Mass, for example.   Following the Church’s teaching on sexual morality, trying to teach our children virtues that go against the prevailing philosophies of the world, giving up our freedom to care for an ailing parent—all of these put our faith in God on display.

If you do any of these things, take heart.   You are also a father or mother with great faith.   Just as God looked kindly on Abraham’s faith during that difficult journey, he sees and honors your sacrifices.   And as he led Abraham, he will lead you into an even closer relationship of trust with him.

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