Abraham 1:1–19 God will bless me for my faith and righteous desires.
by Jennifer Roach
In my day job I’m a mental health therapist. My specialty is helping people recover from trauma. I sit with the loveliest people who’ve been through the very worst things. Abuse, neglect, betrayal, horrific accidents, loss that would make your heart almost stop beating. Sometimes trauma happens unexpectedly. The person wakes up one morning and has no idea how the day will end. I’m reminded of a client many years ago who was in a boating accident. He and his family planned a wonderful day on the lake. Everything started out well but by evening he was in the hospital where he would stay for three weeks recovering from an accident he inadvertently caused. When I first meet clients like this and they start to tell their story, “It was such a beautiful day and we loved taking the boat out…” I can feel myself start to cringe, waiting for the trauma to drop. That’s what it feels like to read the first part of Abraham 1.
His desires are so good. He wants more peace in his life, more goodness and righteousness. He wants knowledge and to have the power of the Priesthood. And everything is going great until verse 5 where we see the first hint of the problem – his fathers. Their hearts were set on doing evil and they were worshiping the wrong things. Abraham sees a child sacrificed on an altar, and then three virgins. The scene would be awful for anyone, but I can’t help but thinking it is just a bit more awful for Abraham because of his godly desires. He had a vision of how much goodness was possible, making the contrast with evil feel even worse. But Abraham does what any godly person would do in that moment: He cries out to God for help.
And God hears and rescues him.
My traumatized clients hate stories like this. And, if I’m honest, sometimes I do too. Maybe you feel the same. God hears Abraham, breaks the bands that are binding him, tells him that he has been heard and will be take care of. I don’t know how many times you’ve cried out to God for rescue and then…..nothing happens. Or at least it seems like nothing happens. I’ve been there. Over and over. You have too.
So what do we do with that? Do we just get angry that Abraham got this great rescue and we didn’t? Do we self-flagellate in hopes that God will see how hard we’re trying? Do we give up trying all together? I have a different suggestion.
Look at verse 15
And as they lifted up their hands upon me, that they might offer me up and take away my life, behold, I lifted up my voice unto the Lord my God, and the Lord hearkened and heard, and he filled me with the vision of the Almighty, and the angel of his presence stood by me, and immediately unloosed my bands;
During the times in my life when I’ve felt the most like God has not heard me it is because I can look and see that I’m still tied up in the bands. Clearly God has not heard me if the bands are not gone. Or has he? There is a famous saying, “Don’t put a period where God has put a comma” and it draws my attention to the fact that the very first thing God does is fill Abraham with a vision of himself. The comma denotes that there is more coming, but perhaps it’s just not here yet. In the darkest times of my traumatized clients – in my own personal darkest times, and in yours too – the first thing God does is gives you a vision of Himself. He doesn’t solve your problems for you immediately. He certainly doesn’t give you some lengthy theological answer. He gives a vision of Himself. Take the vision. If that’s all you’ve got, take it. I hope there is also an angel standing by who cuts you lose from your bands. But if all you’ve got right now is a vision of the Almighty, that will suffice.
Later, in chapter 2, God tells Abraham that he knows the end from the beginning. In the beginning Abraham is filled with righteous desire. Every desire he has is one God wants to fulfill. None of them are bad or evil in any way. But this trauma still happens to him. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t spoil the goodness of those desires and eventually they get fulfilled. It wasn’t the plan getting ruined for Abraham. God knew it would all work out in the end. God knows your righteous desires – he gave them to you. He knows the trauma you may face along the way and he has a plan for that too, even if there seems to be a very long time between the vision you receive and the angel cutting you out of the bands. Be patient and trust in the Almighty. I leave you with the words of Jeffrey R. Holland,
Don’t give up…Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead…You keep your chin up. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.
More Come, Follow Me resources here.
Jennifer Roach earned a Master of Divinity from The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, and a Master of Counseling from Argosy University. Before her conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints she was an ordained minister in the Anglican church. Her own experience of sexual abuse from a pastor during her teen years led her to care deeply about issues of abuse in faith communities.
Please Withhold says
Thank you so much for this. A number of years ago a terrible thing happened to my family. Many wonderful people prayed and fasted and prayed some more that it would not come to pass, but it did. As the years went by, the situation grew worse and worse to the point that one of my children attempted suicide directly due to the terrible thing that The Lord had not spared us from. My entire family has been negatively impacted. None of my children are even friendly toward the Gospel, one in large part due to those seemingly unanswered prayers. Our desires were righteous, but our prayers were not answered in the way that we hoped. I am still living with the fallout. I needed this today. Thank you.