Upward/Downward Faith

18 In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” 19 Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; 20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God … (Romans 4).

ὃς παρ’ ἐλπίδα ἐπ’ ἐλπίδι ἐπίστευσεν — os par’ elpida ep’ elpidi episteusen. Try saying it. It’s the first part of verse 18 — “In hope against hope he believed.”  To a Greek it would kind of roll off the tongue quite easily with its melodically alliterative sound.  Yet, what it is conveying was anything but easy — in hope against hope believing.

Abraham “contemplated” (another root with a preposition in front, meaning he “exercised his mind downward,” or he looked at the facts around him) — yet he did so “without becoming weak in faith”.  In other words, he was able to keep his eyes looking upward to God in faith, while at the same time looking downward at the brutal facts around him, i.e. “his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb”.

True faith is not maintaining a “pie in the sky” mentality, i.e. refusing to even look honestly at the situation around us.  No, true faith upward involves honest contemplation downward.  Abraham pretended neither in his own virility, nor in Sara’s prolificacy, yet, still, he “grew strong in his faith”, and in doing so “gave glory to God”.

Lord, help us to give glory to you in the same way Abraham did — by having an upward/downward kind of faith.  Help us to face any adversity This Day with full confidence in Your promises to us as our loving Heavenly Father.  Amen.