The sixth kind of trouble we might face is the trial of display. God permits this kind of trial to come into our lives to enable us to display something for Him through our trauma.
God came to Abraham and said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about” (Gen. 22:2).
Quite frankly, when I hear that God asked for a child sacrifice, it troubles my spirit. I don’t like to think that my God is like that. But we have to look at the context. In this particular instance, Abraham is living in the land of the Canaanites, where the highest form of commitment to their gods of wood and stone was taking their children and sacrificing them to their pagan god. Offering the blood of their children was the pinnacle statement of obedience to their god.
I believe that God was saying to Abraham, “Are you willing to display your love for Me, the true and the living God, as much as these pagans are to their gods?” I think there was something even more significant in this trial, this test in Abraham’s life. Isaac was the gift God had given to Abraham. He was the miracle baby. Isaac was the whole reason Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees to become a pilgrim in the land of the Canaanites. Genesis 12:1-2, the passage that gives God’s command to Abraham to leave Ur, is an early prophetic statement of the coming of Christ: “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.’ ”
Years went by, and Abraham and Sarah were past childbearing age. Then, suddenly, miraculously, God gave them the gift of this boy. Abraham loved Isaac. I believe God was asking Abraham, “Do you love the gift more than the Giver?”
God often marches into our lives and threatens something precious to us— something He has given us. A child, a house, a spouse, a career. How do we respond? Do we display through our response that we love the Giver more than the gift?
I root for the Detroit Tigers and remain a loyal fan in good times, and mostly bad. During baseball season, every morning I open up the newspaper to see where the Tigers stand in the American League Central. God opens the newspaper of our lives to see whether He is still first or if something has displaced Him. Only you know. You may be asked to give that answer through a trial of display.
Abraham wakes up his boy on that morning, and they walk for 3 days. Abraham has a long time to change his mind, to flunk the test. He has 3 whole days of walking to say, “God, you’re not first. Isaac is first in my life.” And he walks 3 days, builds the altar, lays down his son— and now the marvelous statement of what kind of God our God is. God says, “Wait! That’s all! That’s all!” Genesis 22:12 puts it this way: “Do not lay a hand on the boy . . . . Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from Me your son, your only son.”
Trials of display are intended to be a platform where God’s power can be clearly seen. Such is the case with the man born blind (Jn. 9:1-3).
As He went along, [Jesus] saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”
The blind man’s trouble had nothing to do with the consequence of sin. His blindness was, instead, a platform upon which the glory and power of God could be seen. I often wonder what works of God are displayed in the midst of my trouble? Forgiveness, kindness, patience, grace? Or is my trouble a platform for Satan’s agenda?