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On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. (Genesis 22:4 ESV) Each of us faces tests and trials every day. Normally the purpose of these tests is to see what is at our core. Yet when God tests us, He wants us to see what is at His core. Throughout our Lenten observance we will use these 40 days here at International Lutheran Church to journey to the very heart of God. Today as we read about the testing of Abraham, we are invited to see how God sees us. In so doing, He reveals to us what is at His core. The Scriptures give us many accounts of those who were tested and tried by God. Job is probably the one that first comes to mind as he was tested to see whether he feared God only because of God’s blessings and protection. Moses, too, along with the entire people of Israel were tested for 40 years to see what was in their heart. We could probably think of many others. Yet, the testing of Abraham, the Father of Faith, found in Genesis 22:1-12 is particularly challenging.

Tests are just that: moments when we are examined to see what we are made of and what is at our core. No doubt you were surprised at the sudden cancelation of our in-person Ash Wednesday service. I had some medical tests done that day and they revealed a serious weakness that needed immediate attention that I was unable to see otherwise. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what. Through the skill of the doctor and nurses and medical technicians and the prayers of many, I am thankfully well on the way to a full recovery. Most of all, it reminded me that tests are not bad. These trials help us to see things we would otherwise miss, especially as James declares in his letter to the churches when these tests and trials are related to our faith in God. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1:2-3 ESV)

This is especially true of the test that Abraham went through as it revealed something about God that we would otherwise never know. For in this one act, God showed Abraham that He does indeed see our greatest weakness, and that God Himself is willing to do something about that weakness. Often when we read the story it is from the perspective of what Abraham was asked to sacrifice, namely his one and only son who he dearly loved, Isaac. Certainly, that three-day journey to the place that God would show them must have been arduous and gut-wrenching. Even more painful was Isaac’s question as they climbed the hill, curious to know where the sacrifice would come from, and Abraham’s simple answer, literally “The LORD sees.” While we often see this translated “provide” the word is actually “see.” And this is the point: God does see. He knows exactly what it takes for us to see His love for us, His devotion and desire that we would be His own. But unlike Abraham, God does not stay our hand when His One and Only Son is laid across the wood of the cross for our sin and the sin of all the world. Jesus is the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. God does see! And Jesus’ resurrection three days later is the good news that opens our eyes and our graves to His eternal love. We see exactly what is at His core and we can rejoice and be glad.

Whether we are going through medical tests, educational exams, or professional trials, our hope is in realizing how God is with us and we are not alone. He sees not only our weakness but also how in Jesus we are made strong. During our observance of Lent, we take time to see how God sees us through His grace and love in Jesus.

Pastor Carl