“I Will Be With You”

January 24, 2021 ()

Bible Text: Genesis 25:7-11; Genesis 26:1-33 |

Series:

God's Faithfulness to Broken People: "I Will Be with You" | Genesis 25-26
Brian Hedges | January 24, 2021

Let me invite you to turn in your Bibles this morning to Genesis 25; we’re going to be in chapters 25-26. We are continuing with a series that we kicked off last week called “God’s Faithfulness to Broken People.” Last week, the focus was really on God’s faithfulness to his covenant in providing a wife for Isaac, the son of Abraham. We looked at the story of Isaac and Rebekah.

I didn’t talk much about brokenness, but as we look at the story of the patriarchs, the stories of Isaac and Jacob and then Jacob’s children, it becomes increasingly evident that these are indeed broken people. They are people whose lives are marked by sin and by failure and by suffering, many lapses of faith, even as they try to walk with God. Yet we see God’s faithfulness to his promises to them through it all.

Brothers and sisters, that should be deeply encouraging to us, because we also are broken people, we’re also struggling to live the life of faith, so I think looking at these stories together should be very encouraging to us.

In Genesis 25-26 you have a patchwork of various stories and materials kind of put together. You have the death of Abraham recorded early in chapter 25, you have the genealogy of Ishmael, followed by that of Isaac; you have the births of Jacob and Esau. Then, in chapter 26, you have the disputes between Isaac and the Philistines over water rights, kind of interspersed with two appearances of the Lord to Isaac and covenant renewals.

To summarize, you have genealogies, obituaries, and disputes about water rights. That’s what we’re going to study this morning. Not exactly blockbuster material, but I think that as we look into it we will see that there are really some hidden treasures in these two chapters that will be deeply encouraging to us.

Specifically, I want you to see God’s faithfulness to Isaac, and it’s expressed in a promise that God makes to Isaac in Genesis 26, “I will be with you.” That promise is recognized three times in Genesis 26; that, along with the blessing of God, which is also a theme that runs between these two chapters, 25-26. We see it expressed in three ways. We see it in:

1. God’s Blessing in the Face of Grief
2. God’s Presence in Fear and Famine
3. God’s Provision in the Desert

That’s how we’re going to break up the message this morning, those three things.

1. God’s Blessing in the Face of Grief

Number one, let’s look at God’s blessing in grief. Look at Genesis 25:7-11, beginning in verse 7.

“These are the days of the years of Abraham’s life, one hundred and seventy-five years. Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people. Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, east of Mamre, the field that Abraham purchased from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried, with Sarah his wife. After the death of Abraham, God blessed Isaac his son. And Isaac settled at Beer-lahai-roi.”

In some ways this is a sad text, isn’t it? It records the death of Abraham, the great father of the faithful. It’s the end of an era, and it shows us one of the first trials that Isaac faces in his life, and that is the loss of his father.

We can’t really read about death in Scripture without going all the way back to Genesis 3 and remembering that death is the result of sin. Paul says it in Romans 6:23, that “the wages of sin is death.” God had told the man and the woman in the garden that the day in which they disobeyed him and ate the fruit of that forbidden tree, in that day they would die. Sure enough, God executes the death sentence. It comes when Adam and Eve sin. He actually commutes the sentence for a period of time, but eventually they die, and all of their posterity die as well.

When we think about death, we have to remember that Scripture calls death the last enemy in 1 Corinthians 15. It is the great enemy, the final enemy. It’s the enemy that each one of us must face. Death is viewed in Scripture as a foreign intruder into the good world that God had made. Death is not the way it’s supposed to be, so when we face death we face it with grief and with pain, and it brings heartache into our lives.

This was certainly true for Isaac. No doubt he grieved the loss of his father, Abraham, even as he had grieved the loss of his mother, Sarah. That death is recorded in Genesis 23 and alluded to again in chapter 24. But here we have it; we have the death of Abraham, and Isaac facing that death.

Now, there’s significance in the details that are recorded here, even in verses 9-10 with the burial place of Abraham. This is significant. “Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in the cave of Machpelah.” You may remember if you know the book of Genesis that Abraham had purchased this cave in Genesis 23 in order to bury Sarah there, so now he’s buried alongside his wife there in this family burial ground.

Why is that important? It’s important because God had made a promise to Abraham, “I’m going to give you the land of Canaan,” but the only piece of real estate that he ever owns in this earthly life is this burial ground. It’s the very first and it’s the only piece of land that he actually possesses and has ownership of in the land of Canaan. But there he is buried with Sarah, his wife.

Also, in verse 8 we have something important; we have one of the earliest references in Scripture to the reality that there is life after death, that death is not the end. It says, “Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people.”

That’s an interesting phrase, and it’s a phrase that appears only in the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, Genesis through Deuteronomy. We know that Scripture is characterized by progressive revelation, so there are many doctrines and themes in Scripture that we have hints in the early books of the Bible, but they only get fully developed later on in Scripture, and even in the New Testament. The afterlife, the reality and the details of the afterlife, is like that. We know more about heaven, and of course we know about the resurrection body because of passages such as Paul’s in 1 Corinthians 15 and in 2 Corinthians 5.

We don’t know how much the patriarchs knew, but we at least know this, that they knew that death was not the end. The passage here says that “Abraham was gathered to his people.” This doesn’t mean he was buried with his ancestors, because he wasn’t in fact buried with his ancestors, he was buried with Sarah; but it means that in some sense Abraham’s soul, his spirit, lived on and was reunited with family members who had gone before. That would be family members, of course, who had been worshippers of Yahweh, the true God.

So death is not the end, and this passage shows us that there is blessing even in the face of bereavement. It’s significant that verse 11 says, “After the death of Abraham, God blessed Isaac his son. And Isaac settled at Beer-lahai-roi.” Even Beer-lahai-roi is significant. Do you remember that place? It’s first introduced to us in Genesis 16 and the story of Hagar. It’s the well that means “the well of seeing.” It’s the place where God had seen and had heard the distress of Hagar and her cry, and now Isaac is there, and the fact that he is there and that God blesses him shows that God hears and that God understands and that God is with him even in the death of his father.

All of this, of course, suggests application for us. There is a one hundred per cent mortality rate, so every single one of us, if Jesus tarries, will face death. Are you prepared to die? Have you thought about your mortality? Have you thought about the fact that your earthly life will end and that there will come a point where you will meet your Maker, you will meet the Creator? Are you prepared for death through faith in Jesus Christ?

Especially I want to ask those of you who are older this morning, those of you who are perhaps senior citizens. Have you prepared to die? Death will likely face you sooner than it will many other people.

I’m not trying to be morbid at all, but this is just the reality. We live for a short span of years in this life, and of course the older you get the faster those years go by, don’t they? When we read this passage, we find that Abraham, even though he lived to this ripe old age, 175 years for him, he still faced death, and you and I must as well. I think the older we get, the more we need to reckon with our mortality and be prepared to die well.

One thing I didn’t read are the first several verses in Genesis 25, and it shows how Abraham prepared by settling his affairs, providing for his children, but especially ensuring that the inheritance would go to the son of promise, Isaac. Of course, we should prepare our families as well for our impending death, and particularly we should ask this question: What legacy will we leave behind when we die? Will we leave behind a legacy of faith, as Abraham did? Will we pass the torch to the next generation? Will they be strong in faith because they have witnessed our testimony? The older we get, the more we have to be concerned with the generation that follows and preparing them to live well once we are gone.

For those who are grieving, we should be reminded that grief is the natural response to death. Even Jesus, the Lord Jesus, when his friend Lazarus died in John 11, when he comes to the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus wept. Even Jesus faced grief when his friend died, even when Jesus knew he was going to raise him from the dead. Certainly it is right for us to experience grief in the face of death. The very first record of tears in the Bible is in Genesis 23 with the death of Sarah, and certainly we will shed tears, and many of us have in recent days because of the loss of loved ones.

Yet we do not grieve as those who have no hope. We believe that death is not the end. We believe that there is hope beyond death, and that hope, of course, is found supremely in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the resurrection and the life, as we’ve already read this morning. He is the defeater of death, he is the one who gives us hope in the face of death.

I love the story of the missionary John Paton. John Paton was a 19th-century Scottish missionary to the New Hebrides islands. He went to these islands that were inhabited by not only pagan idolaters, non-Christian people, but by cannibals. He was warned not to even go or he’d be eaten by cannibals. Nevertheless, he went, and when he went, sorrow was hard on his heels.

He arrived in November of 1858. His wife was pregnant and gave birth to their son on February 12, 1859. On March 3rd she died. Seventeen days later, on March 20th, the little boy died.

John Paton said, “But for Jesus and the fellowship he gave me there, I must have gone mad and died beside that lonely grave.” Yet the Lord was faithful to him. The Lord’s presence was with John Paton. He endured, he kept on going. In fact, he continued with the work of missions until he was an old man. He was at that island for some time. He finally was chased off by the cannibals, had to escape for his life. He went to another island also inhabited by cannibals, and by the end of his life the entire island had come to faith in Jesus Christ. Why? Because the Lord was with him even in the face of death.

I love the words of George Herbert, the English poet. He said, “Death used to be an executioner, but because of the gospel death is now a gardener.” What’s the difference? An executioner brings an end, but a gardener plants a seed, and that seed is raised into new life. So it will be for us. Death for us is not the end; death is a gardener, and if we are planted because of faith in Jesus Christ, we are planted, we are sown, our natural bodies, they will be raised incorruptible and immortal in union with the Lord Jesus.

2. God’s Presence in Fear and Famine

God’s blessing in the face of death and grief; we see that first. This is a trial that Isaac must face, and following that there are yet further trials. We see the second one in Genesis 26, God’s presence in fear and famine. Look at Genesis 26:1.

It says, “Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar to Abimelech king of the Philistines.”

Now, the very wording here is drawing our attention to the parallels between the lives of Abraham and Isaac. In fact, you read this story and you may feel something of deja vu.

Just for the sake of illustration, you know that I love the Star Wars movies, I love the original trilogy, and I even like the movies that just came out over the last few years. But when “The Force Awakens” came out a few years ago, the big criticism everybody was making was, “We’ve seen this before. They’re just recycling the same plot from the original Star Wars movie,” right?

When you read the story of Isaac in Genesis 26, you may feel something like that, because everything that Isaac goes through is essentially a rerun of what Abraham has already experienced before. For example, you have promises, and you have famine in the land; go read Genesis 12. You have a story here about a patriarch lying about his wife out of fear for his life; Genesis 12. You have disputes with herdsmen related to land; Genesis 13. Eventually you have a treaty with a foreign king, Abimelech (that’s probably a title for a Philistine ruler). Isaac makes a treaty with him by the end of chapter 26, but it’s basically the same thing that you read in Genesis 21.

Are these just stories that got recirculated with different names plugged in? I don’t think they are. I think there’s actually a point here. This really happened, and there’s a theological point the narrator wants to make, and it’s simply this: that Isaac must learn to walk in the footsteps of his father, Abraham. Isaac has to endure the same trials, he has to receive the same promises, he has to trust the same God, he has to embrace the same covenant; he has to make this faith his own.

Listen, brothers and sisters, every generation has to do this. Every generation has to learn to embrace God, trust God, walk with God for themselves! You cannot ride on the coattails of your parents’ faith. Those of us who had the privilege of being raised in Christian homes, or maybe you’re young people here this morning and you’ve been raised, you are being raised in a Christian home; that’s wonderful. That’s an incredible blessing. But don’t take faith for granted. Just because your parents believe doesn’t necessarily mean you believe. Make it your own. Isaac has to do that.

Indeed, we see Isaac coming to walk with God in the course of Genesis 26. It begins with this trial, a famine, and then a covenant renewal. Look at verses 2-4. It says, “And the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Do not go down to Egypt…’” It’s a warning. This is exactly what Abraham, his father, had done when he was confronted with famine in Genesis 12. “‘Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed…’”

Does that sound familiar? It’s the promises that God made to Abraham! It’s essentially the same promises, but expanded in some ways, and in particular you have this phrase, “I will be with you.” This is the first time that phrase appears in Scripture. It’s a promise never made quite this way to Abraham, but God makes the promise to Isaac, “I will be with you.” It’s the promise of his presence even though he’s facing this trial, even though he’s facing this famine.

What’s the basis of this covenant? Why is God making these promises to Isaac? Ultimately, of course, the basis is God’s grace, but look at verse 5, and it’s an interesting verse. God has made these promises to multiply his offspring and bless the nations of the earth through him, “...because,” verse 5 says, “Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”

That’s an amazing verse, for several reasons. You might view it as the epitaph on the life of Abraham. Here’s Abraham, the father of the faithful; here’s Abraham, who has now gone to be with the Lord, he’s now passed away; and what would you write on his tombstone? “He obeyed God’s voice, he kept God’s charge, he kept God’s commandments, his statutes, and his laws.” It’s his epitaph. That’s a life well-lived. We should ask ourselves if we will have a similar epitaph.

This is also interesting because the original audience, the original readers, that is, of the book of Genesis, would have been the Israelites who had experienced redemption out of Egypt, and then that next generation after the wilderness, where God spoke to them through Moses, giving them the Pentateuch, the books of the Law. Any attentive reader of the Pentateuch—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy—any attentive reader, when they read this verse, Genesis 26:5, would have connected it with Deuteronomy 11:1, where the very same language is used. “You shall therefore love the Lord your God and keep his charge, his statues, his rules, and his commandments always.”

It’s really interesting, because it’s law language, but it’s law language that’s spoken about Abraham before the Law has ever been given. Why is this? I’m drawing this from John Sailhamer, his excellent commentary. Sailhamer says, “Abraham is an example of one who shows the law written on his heart. He’s the ultimate example of true obedience to the law. The writer has shown the nature of the relationship between law and faith; Abraham, a man who lived in faith, could be described as one who kept the law.”

It shows the results of a life of faith. A life of faith is a life in which the heart is renewed, and it leads us into obedience to God, and that was the life of Abraham; that should be our lives as well.

Of course, I can’t read a passage like this, where I see God making his covenant to Isaac because of Abraham’s obedience, without thinking of how God keeps his covenant with us because of the supreme obedience of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the great covenant keeper on our behalf.

God makes these promises to Isaac. It’s a covenant renewal ceremony. Immediately following that, you would think that Isaac will march on in faith and in triumph and in obedience, cherishing the promises of God; but is that what we see? Far from it! Look at verse 6.

“So Isaac settled in Gerar. When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, ‘She is my sister,’ for he feared to say, ‘My wife,’ thinking, ‘lest the men of the place should kill me because of Rebekah,’ because she was attractive in appearance.”

Deja vu again! It’s the same thing that Abraham had done before. Here Isaac is, instead of following in the footsteps of Abraham as the faithful one who grew to trust in God over the course of his life, he’s actually repeating the mistakes of his father from earlier in his life.

It’s a lesson for us again, isn’t it? As believers, we would like to think that our children will get the best that they can from us; they will imitate our faith, they will cherish our beliefs, they will learn to walk with God, and that they won’t repeat the same mistakes we make. But usually the opposite is the case until God’s grace intervenes. Our children learn our sins, they learn our failures, they repeat our mistakes. The things that we excuse in moderation they indulge in excess, and it’s only when God’s grace intervenes that children really begin to learn to walk with God.

Well, God intervenes, God protects Isaac even in the face of his fear and his deception, and God providentially protects, as you see at the end of this chapter, as Abimelech discovers by seeing Isaac sporting with Rebekah, laughing with Rebekah—he sees this, he knows that they’re married, and then he warns everyone not to touch Rebekah’s life. God, once again, providentially is protecting the covenant family, he’s protecting the line, the promised line of descent.

All of this I think shows us how important it is for each new generation to learn to walk with God. We should do what Isaac failed to do, and that is listen and hear and believe the promise that God will be with us.

It also shows us God’s faithfulness to the covenant in spite of our mistakes, in spite of frequent fear and unbelief. God appears, and then Isaac fails. So is God done with him? Far from it. God perseveres with Isaac, and God will appear to him again later in this chapter. In the same way, we are grateful that God is faithful to us. Even when we fail, even when we disobey, God is faithful to his people, he renews them, he draws them back to himself, he doesn’t do away with us.

We know this promise, “I will be with you,” is a promise for us as believers, because Hebrews 13:5 says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Do you remember those words of the great hymn-writer John Rippon, from his hymn, “How firm a foundation,/Ye saints of the Lord,” a hymn, of course, based on Isaiah 41. Listen to these words:

“Fear not, I am with thee; O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.”

Listen to this, believer.

“When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow.
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.”

That’s a promise that is true for every believer in Jesus Christ. It’s not a promise that you won’t have trouble, it’s a promise that he will be with you in the trouble. It’s not a promise that you will be exempt from trials, it’s a promise that he will sanctify those trials and use them for your good.

We see it even in the life of Isaac, God’s presence in fear and in famine.

3. God’s Provision in the Desert

Finally, number three, we see God’s provision for Isaac in the desert. Look at verse 12—actually, let me read verses 12-18.

“And Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. The Lord blessed him, and the man became rich, and gained more and more until he became very wealthy. He had possessions of flocks and herds and many servants, so that the Philistines envied him. (Now the Philistines had stopped and filled with earth all the wells that his father's servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father.) And Abimelech said to Isaac, ‘Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we.’

“So Isaac departed from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. And Isaac dug again the wells of water that had been dug in the days of Abraham his father, which the Philistines had stopped after the death of Abraham. And he gave them the names that his father had given them.”

We see here that God is blessing Isaac, but right alongside those blessings also arrive trials. God blesses Isaac and he begins to prosper; he’s growing wealthy, he’s growing rich. That’s not an unqualified promise that God will make everyone wealthy; that’s certainly not a promise that the Scripture makes. But God often does give us prosperity. He will give wealth at times, but don’t believe the lie that if you just trust in God you’ll be healthy, wealthy, and wise and everything will go well and there will be no troubles! That wasn’t true even for Isaac. Even as he grows in wealth, his trials increase. As soon as he becomes wealthy the Philistines envy him, and contention begins to happen.

Look at what they’re fighting about. They’re fighting over water rights, over wells. They are wells that Abraham had dug, the Philistines had filled them up; now Isaac is digging them out again, but then when there’s water the Philistines say, “That well belongs to us!” So there are these disputes.

In fact, if you keep reading the passage you see that Isaac names these wells on the basis of these experiences. The wells have to do with the contention and the hostility that he experiences, until finally he moves far enough away that there’s space for all of them and he has room, which is essentially what the word “Rehoboth” means when he names that well.

It shows us the truth of Scripture, that if riches increase we are not to set our hearts upon them (Psalm 62:10). Or Proverbs 23:4-5, “Do not overwork to be rich; because of your own understanding cease. Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle towards heaven.”

Haven’t you experienced that? You get a raise, and then your taxes go up. You get a bonus at work and the washer breaks. The Scriptures warn us of this over and over again: Don’t set your heart on riches, because ultimately riches don’t satisfy, they don’t meet the deep needs of our hearts.

Isaac is having to learn this. Even as he increases in wealth, his trials increase as well. God is teaching him lessons. He is teaching him how to walk by faith, and it’s a lesson every one of us has to learn. Trials are the tools that God uses. Remember those words from William Cowper:

“Trials make the promise sweet,
Trials give new life to prayer,
Trials bring me low, lay me at his feet,
Bring me low and keep me there.”

That happens in all of our lives. God uses the trials to bring us into deeper relationship with him.

That is what happens with Isaac, and we see it in the second covenant renewal here in Genesis 26 and in Isaac’s response. Look at verse 23.

“From there he went up to Beersheba. And the Lord appeared to him the same night and said, ‘I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you—’” There it is again, God’s promise of his presence. “...I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham's sake.’” God is renewing the promise. Why? He’s already done it once; why is he doing it? Because Isaac needs to hear it again.

You and I also need to hear the promises again and again and again, and God is patient with his people as we grow in our faith. It seems here that Isaac grows in faith as well. Look at verse 25. “So he built an altar there and called upon the name of the Lord and pitched his tent there. And there Isaac's servants dug a well.”

Again, he’s walking now in the footsteps of Abraham, but now he’s doing what Abraham had done. He’s not only digging wells, but he’s building an altar and he’s calling on the name of the Lord. It’s the first time that we see Isaac building an altar, and it’s really only the second time we have any indication of Isaac in prayer. We do have him praying for his barren wife, Rebekah, in Genesis 25, but here he calls on the name of the Lord. The phrase might even mean he proclaims the name of the Lord, he becomes a source of witness to the reality of God in his life—so much so that when Abimelech comes to him at the end of the chapter, he says, “We can see that you are blessed of the Lord and that the Lord is with you.”

Well, the chapter ends with a treaty between Isaac and Abimelech and peace between him and them, and then with another well. I just want to read the second half of verse 31 and 32-33.

“Isaac sent them on their way, and they departed from him in peace. That same day Isaac's servants came and told him about the well that they had dug and said to him, ‘We have found water.’ He called it Shibah; therefore the name of the city is Beersheba to this day.”

God provided. He provided. Here they are in the Negeb, they’re in the desert, and water is absolutely essential for life. This is the struggle. He’s trying to find his livelihood. Without water they’ll all die; they’re in the midst of famine. Finally there’s the provision, and they settle in this city that he calls Beersheba, which means “well of the oath” or “well of seven,” or perhaps “the seven wells.”

Isaac’s journey in this chapter is a journey from famine all the way to provision. It begins in famine, it ends with a well. That’s the literal journey that he had, but I think in many ways it’s a spiritual picture for us. It’s a picture of the journey that each one of us must travel in this life.

There will come times in your life when you will come up against a famine of some sort. It may not be lack of food, but it’s some sort of trial. It may be the loss of a loved one, it may be the loss of financial security, maybe the loss of a job. It may be experiencing a pandemic and all that comes with it. It may be prodigal children. It may be the pain of a divorce. It may be some other trial or disappointment, but you come up against these trials in your life, and as you do you are learning that this world does not hold the satisfaction, it doesn’t hold the answer, it doesn’t hold the hope that you once thought it did.

What are we meant to learn in those times? C.S. Lewis once said, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” We’re learning, like Isaac, to be pilgrims, to be sojourners, to not count on this world but to look to the world to come, to look to the city whose builder and whose maker is God; to trust in God and in his promises.

Ultimately, of course, we must look to the Lord Jesus Christ. If we need satisfaction, he is the source of living water. Do you remember another story about a well, this one from John 4? Jesus meets a woman at the well of Samaria, and here’s a woman who’s had multiple husbands, she’s now living with a man who’s not her husband. She’s obviously thirsty, she’s obviously looking for something. Do you remember what Jesus said to her? He said, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Have you drunk from that spring? Have you discovered the living water? It is found in and through Jesus Christ, who is the true Son of promise, the substitute for sinners, the one who is crucified and resurrected for us. He is the source of our hope. I hope you’ll look to him this morning. Let’s pray.

Our gracious God and Father, we thank you for your word and for the promises of word, and especially we thank you for this promise that you will be with us, that you will never leave or forsake your people, and that through all the trials, all the circumstances of our lives we can count on you to be with us, to carry us, to sustain us. We thank you for your patience with our weak faith. We thank you for tangible reminders of your providence as you protect us and provide for us and take care of us. We thank you for the examples of saints in your word and seeing how they struggled and yet grew, and our prayer this morning is that we too would struggle through our trials, would grow in faith, and would come to trust in you as our living God.

Father, as we come to the Lord’s table this morning, we ask you to feed us, to nourish our faith with the grace that is in and through Jesus Christ. As we take these elements, may we do so with trust in Christ, believing what he has accomplished for us, and we pray that we would know your presence in these moments. We ask this in Jesus’ name and for his sake, amen.