There is Always a Ram in the Thicket. The Lord Will Provide

Posted by Deacon Keith Fournier | February 8, 2017

Published on THE STREAM

In the 22nd chapter of Book of Genesis in the Hebrew Scriptures we read the familiar story of the faith of Abraham and the test which he endured. That test showed the single-mindedness of this one called our father in faith in the Canon of the Catholic Mass.

He is listed in the letter to the Hebrews as an example of the kind of faith to which we are all called. (Hebrews 11). He knew that God would provide, even when it seemed he was being asked to give his own son, Isaac, whose name literally means son of the promise. The Lord provided a ram in the thicket.

However, whenever I hear of the ram in the thicket I recall a woman I met years ago. Her name was Wanda.

Wanda’s Story

She was a simple woman, a sincere Christian, and a dedicated mother. She was also an answer to my prayer and a messenger sent from the Lord. That is the literal definition of the root word from which we derive the word angel.

She contacted me because she needed legal help and, at the time, I was engaged in the private practice of law. Barely making ends meet, supporting her family day to day, she hadn’t budgeted for a major car disaster. That old thing had held up pretty well. However, the transmission was shot and she had to take it in for repair.

Wanda left her car at the repair shop and waited for the bad news. It was worse than she had expected! The cost of repair was beyond anything she had even braced for. What followed was even worse.

After the repairs were done, the serviceman parked the car out in front of the shop (located in the inner city) with the keys in the ignition. Not surprisingly, Wanda’s car was stolen!

Not only was the insurance company offering less than what she owed (Wanda had been the victim of a loan company that committed usury — taking advantage of her disadvantage) but the repair shop was insisting on being paid for the repairs immediately!

A friend told Wanda that I might be able to help, even though she could not afford a lawyer. She also heard that I was a man of Christian faith. However, by the time it was all over, it was Wanda who helped me.

She changed my life.

Learning from Wanda

I did the dance I had learned to do after years of law practice. I negotiated, first from a position of what was just, and only then, when it became clear that the parties were not altruistic, by shifting the risk to the other party.

After all, who in a small claims court environment was going to be sympathetic to a business that parked a customer’s car outside in a high crime district with the keys inside? What usurious loan company that took advantage of the disadvantaged would not be expected to write off part of ill gotten gains rather than run the risk of public exposure for charging exorbitant rates and questionable business practices?

At each step of the dance I kept Wanda informed. She was without a car, taking a bus daily to work, and had to increase her hours to pay for the added expenses occasioned by the loss of her means of transportation. However, she never complained. Rather, she always responded with an extraordinary confidence that God would provide and take care of her family.

Her response to difficulty was not anger, blame or the naive kind of starry-eyed faith of a new convert. She was strong and resolute. It was a deep kind of conviction, birthed in the furnace of failure, disappointment and perseverance. She KNEW that God would make a way.

When it was all over, and Wanda was able to walk away with no financial obligations, I felt good. She deserved it. I enjoyed hearing her sincere “God bless you” on the other end of the telephone line.

We both went on with our lives.

Four weeks later, I was facing a severe crisis in my own life and career. But this crisis was not bearing the fruits that redemptive suffering, joined to the cross, had done in my life in the past. In short, I was in serious “funk,” depressed, despondent and hopeless.

I received a card in the mail from Wanda. Inside she expressed her gratitude for my legal assistance and wrote these words: “There is always a ram in the thicket.” I was sure I recognized the reference, but I was somewhat puzzled. I searched the Scriptures and found them in the first Book of the Bible, Genesis:

Abraham looked and there in the thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place ‘The Lord will provide.’ (Genesis 22:13-14a).

Finding the Ram in the Thicket

Real faith is often tried, and in the trial, it is purified and made stronger. That is why Abraham’s faith is presented as a model throughout the Christian tradition.

The early Fathers of the Church expounded upon his willingness to sacrifice “Isaac” (the son of the promise) as a prototype of what we moderns would call “where the rubber hits the road” in understanding and living the life of faith. Abraham was a man who lived in complete abandonment to — and trust in — God.

Wanda was truly his daughter. I had much to learn and she was one of teachers who the Lord had sent to me. She was the angel who would show me that there is always a ram in the thicket . . . . .

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