Avram is promised success and a wonderful land by God. But no sooner does he arrive there when he is beset with difficulties. There is famine. He has to go down to Egypt with all its challenges. He nearly loses his wife but it all works out for the best. When he returns to Canaan, there is a conflict between him and his nephew Lot and the family splits. He gets caught up in the battle of the four kings against the five. He has no son to succeed him and when he takes a ‘surrogate’ and she gives birth there is even more conflict at home. And yet at the same time Avram is getting stronger and richer and his spiritual life is deeper.
And that is how life treats us too. It is rarely all perfect. There are good times and bad times, one moment down, the next up, new problems, new joys. The art of living a good and spiritual life is being able to take the rough with the smooth and count one’s blessings. For as long as we are alive there is hope and joy just as much as there are tears. And if one really believes there is more to life than the physical then one cope a little easier too knowing this world is only part of the picture.
That is why Avram I such a wonderful example to us all. He developed from being a poor refugee to the wealthy founder of a tribe that would develop and splinter off into the major peoples and religions of the Western world. Conflict seems to be the human condition. What is remarkable about Avraham is that despite being surrounded by evil and corrupt peoples (as well some good ones of course) he can nevertheless get on with others who are very different. Sodom and Gemorrah excluded strangers. Avraham welcomed them. The fact is that ever since, those societies that have welcomed strangers and outsiders have been enriched, prospered and grown. Those which have been busy excluding, have tended to wither and decline.