The proverbial “they” say that we are to consider others’ perspectives, “walk a mile in their shoes” and consider that we never know the full story of another. On this first day of Jonathan receiving chemotherapy, I am responsible for the home-front while my husband takes the hospital shift. He has to drive, park, wait, prepare a crying and non-compliant child for port access, keep the IV pole close for the infusion, and feed and entertain Jonathan. Then he must transfer to a room and keep watch all night as the rough things begin. He has to keep the IV line clear and replace it when pulled, help Jonathan make it to the bathroom on time, and sleep with one eye open on a short, hard, plastic bed.
I know, because with William it was my job- I became good at it. Now I have to turn that over and switch places.
I must step back from it all and wait to hear what happened. If any woman understands that, I imagine it is Sarah, Abraham’s wife. She is one complicated and amazing woman- an ideal character for an amazing play. However, in one of the greatest scenes, our Best Supporting Actress remains silent and unseen. Many great jokes, sermons and commentaries surround one of the most profound tests ever given to parents who serve God.
I have read this slowly, picturing the scene over and over. Curtain, please!
Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”“Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about....9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”“Here I am,” he replied.12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “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.”…
15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring[b] all nations on earth will be blessed,[c] because you have obeyed me.”
Let’s go off-stage. SURELY Abraham didn’t tell Sarah…right? If she had chosen to wait in obedience at home without protest I imagine it would have warranted a verse. Imagine that homecoming dinner table conversation. No marriage conference can handle that communication lapse. (Shudder) No WONDER Abraham went to Beersheba instead of heading home.19 Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba. See? The Bible is full of humor.
When Sarah finally heard what happened, knowing God had been faithful, I imagine Sarah clung to her Son of Promise. If she had sent her husband and her son away with provisions for six days knowing that Isaac may not return, I imagine she wrestled with The Difficult Things.
If God takes my son, is God still enough? If I am stripped bare from what God promised in this life, can I wait until Eternity to claim them without distrusting and becoming bitter? What if I fail God’s test for me?
Can I truly savor every moment I had with him and let that be enough? Why did God ask for my son? How can I stop from wanting to control everything and watch him every moment?
I apologize to those who hate rhetorical questions. To me, these are NOT rhetorical questions. They were my constant companions and will continue to be until Jonathan is healed from cancer, one way or another.
It would be ideal to have Sarah’s example to follow, but the bible leaves it to the imagination. Dad gummit. I suppose it is for the best. Sarah isn’t the star. Abraham and Isaac aren’t the stars either. GOD is the star and this is HIS story of a sacrifice redeemed for something beyond comprehension.
That’s the point, after all. We must make Christ the star, no matter what cross we bear and what we sacrifice to receive what God has for us.
I will send my husband and my son up to the hospital over and over for a year. We will sacrifice each time- his school year with amazing teachers. Play-dates, vacations, leaving the house, nights together… but we gain promises and rewards far beyond what we see and can comprehend. Although our sacrifice and the way God will provide is very different, our God is unchanging. We can trust him, even when it knocks us flat, because God sacrificed his Son too.