“On this very day I came to the spring and I said, ‘Yahweh, God of my lord, Abraham, if you are there, please bring success to my way upon which I have walked.”
Many of our modern English translations will render the phrase of Eliezer: “if you will prosper my way…” yet that is not a literal reading of the Hebrew text. Literally he states: DKVv‰y_MIa (im-yeshka), “if there is you.” The impression that is being given is not so much: “Lord will you please bring success,” but, “Lord, if you exist, please bring success…”
How often have we, or have we been tempted, to pray that prayer? It is the fleece that Gideon would put out and it is the test that Thomas posed — “I need to touch his pierced hands and side…” We doubt, we fear, we worry, we wonder and then we ask God over and over to assure us of his guidance — that the path we are on is exactly the path that He has designed for us to walk.
Somehow we think that things, if we are doing God’s will, will simply fall into place and be easy. That as a pastor, my congregation will swell with membership; that as a father, my children will grow up kind and respectful and obedient; and that as a husband, my wife’s life will be filled with joy and excitement and the pleasure of every new day. Perhaps that will be so in the new creation, but here we grow as wheat amongst the tares; we live in a fallen world where trials and tragedies are commonplace and where fallen people constitute our congregations. So we cry out, “God, if you are really there, won’t you…”
The amazing thing is that sometimes, God does… Yet, in reality, most of the time God is teaching us patience and persistence as well as faithfulness through the woes of a world in rebellion against truth. He has been faithful to us and if we will but read his word, we will be reminded of his many kept promises. If we but remember the path through which he has led us in life, we too will remember that even through the darkest valleys of trial, it is his rod that has guided us and his staff that has kept us secure. The pathway that Christ chose to take to heaven led through the cross; why should we expect that ours will be more comfortable?
So, let us refocus our prayers and our lives in the knowledge that God is there and ask ourselves, “What, my Lord, are you teaching me through this trial?” and then seek to apply that learning. True, that is often easier said than done, though it has been done by many believers who have walked this road ahead of us — we are not blazing a new trail. Ultimately, the goal is to be made like Christ … how long a path we all have to go toward that end…