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Enduring Trials

God's mercy comes in unexpected ways.

Genesis 22:1-3 (NKJV)

Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!”

And he said, “Here I am.”

Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

This passage is special to anyone who has ever split firewood. They understand something about Abraham’s state of mind – the wood-splitting helped him get through the test.

And what a test it was. Just imagine what was going through Abraham’s mind. Every kind of doubt must have cropped up. Yes, that really was God speaking. Yes, He really wants you to sacrifice Isaac. Yes, that kind of sacrifice. No, you’re not losing it.

So Abraham rose early in the morning. Could you sleep?

And he split the wood for the burnt offering.

Splitting wood is amazing anger therapy. It’s totally violent and destructive, yet it’s not wrong. You get to smash something to pieces, and that’s OK – and the angrier you get, the better you are at it.

And you always win. If a log has an especially tough knot, it just takes longer to break it. As you do battle, your adrenaline rises higher and higher. Eventually you bust the knot and you get to do a victory dance. It’s awesome.

Abraham had great faith, but it’s silly to think that he just robotically followed God’s instructions without emotion. The log-splitting is scripture’s brief depiction to what really happened.

I doubt I’ll ever have a test like this, but if I do logs will die.

Abraham didn’t split the wood for the anger therapy; he split the wood because a burnt offering needs a very hot fire. God built the therapy into the test.

This is a perfect example of how God’s love works when we’re enduring a trial. He doesn’t remove the trial; he helps us get through it. Thus the trial accomplishes its purpose.

But we often pray for the wrong thing. We ask for trials to be removed instead of asking for strength and growth. God lovingly gives us what we need instead of what we ask for.

Still, by missing the point, we often suffer more than we would if we saw things through eyes of faith.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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