The Bible is full of stories of God putting his followers to the test in ways we cannot even imagine in today’s world — or, perhaps, we can. While the stories of the Bible can sometimes seem frozen in a different time, they offer us the opportunity to learn valuable lessons we can apply to our lives. Think you’ve had hard decisions in life? Check out and learn from these three men of the Bible who made the hardest decisions possible.
Joseph and Step-Parenting the Son of God
In today’s world, blended families have become the norm. Whether because of divorce, death or other circumstances, many families are composed of step- and half-siblings, step-parents, step-grandparents and various other non-biological relationships. Blended families can be the topic of inspirational stories or tales of horror, but one of the best known non-biological fathers was Joseph, husband of Mary.
Imagine this: Joseph is looking forward to Mary becoming his wife and suddenly learns that she is already expecting … and the father of the impending child is none other than God himself. Whew! Joseph decided to accept what he learned from Mary and the angels and step up and commit his life to parenting a child not biologically his. And it was no normal upbringing, either.
Joseph had to flee with Mary and the baby to Egypt to protect their safety, had to foster appropriate learning within the Jewish faith and still found time to pass along his carpentry trade to Jesus. Not once do we hear him quibble or complain. Joseph simply steps up and is the best father he can be despite the adversarial circumstances.
Paul’s Convictions and Conversion
Perhaps the best conversion story in the New Testament, Paul transforms from a staunch enemy of early Judaic Christians to one of the new faith’s most convicted leaders. During his conversion, Paul made the hard decision to take back his criticism of Christianity and suffer suspicion from all sides.
Despised by Jews who were formerly his allies against the new religion and Christians who doubted his conversion, Paul weathered suspicions and allegations to become the most prolific New Testament writer, penning letters to tribes near and far about his love for Christ and Christ’s love for the world. Even when his convictions lead to his actual legal conviction and death became an imminent threat, Paul persisted in teaching others about his faith.
Today, it’s easy to fear losing friends and family due to differing beliefs, whether religious, political or otherwise. While we are privileged to live in a society where free belief is protected, we can still learn from Paul's steadfast conviction.
Abraham and Isaac
Can you imagine the horror of being asked to sacrifice your own child, a child you waited years to welcome to this world? Abraham was challenged by God in this very way, and while we aren't being asked for such a sacrifice, we can take a different lesson from Abraham’s hard decision to follow God’s command.
How often do you find yourself at odds with the decisions your adult children make? Perhaps you don’t approve of their professions or their lifestyles, how they manage finances or households or even how they dress. Wasn’t Abraham’s decision one of following the commands of God and one of his love and acceptance of his son? Perhaps that acceptance, more so than the horror of being asked to sacrifice a child, is the lesson we can learn from our ancient ancestor, Abraham.