Let's just rest in these few verses near the end of Chapter 4 for a moment… In fact, please read it twice through and look for key themes:
NLT Romans 4:16-22 So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!" And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb.
Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous.
God gave a promise. Abraham believed God. So God considered Abraham to be "righteous".
So stop trying to earn God's favor. You can't. You won't.
Just trust God. Trust God at His Word. God Is Who He Is. So trust God for Who God Is.
If you don't know God… then pursue after God. Start with those things about God that you do already know… and go forward in faithful steps from there.
Abraham didn't really know too much about God when all this began. He didn't know what the outcomes would really be. He didn't understand how God was going to work in his life. Abraham was quite uncertain about the specifics. We're not even entirely sure what Abraham called God… but we know they interacted with one another… and that God had taken special interest in old Abe. And the more that Abe and God interacted, the more Abraham trusted God… and the more Abraham relied upon God… and the more God shaped Abraham's life. (Read the 2nd half of Genesis again if you need to remember the full story!)
God promised Abraham he would be the father of all nations. Abraham believed this. Paul tells us that God's promise wasn't merely a physical reality, but a spiritual one too. Abraham's royalty wouldn't be passed on merely through DNA, but it would be passed on for generations by those who believed in God. So Abraham is the father of all those ever since who have called out to God and found Him to be trustworthy.
The Kingdom God promised was greater and more numerous than any temporal, geographic kingdom Abraham could have conceived. Even just one child was beyond Abraham's imagination. So it is remarkable that Abraham was actually open to whatever God's promise held for him— And yet this is the precisely the proper stance of faith: Confident hope within the uncertainty that God presents (Hebrews 11:1).
Nothing Abraham could do about it really. Just believe God at His Word.
Abraham's faith is noteworthy… because Abraham was OLD… and so was his wife. Added to this fact was this little complication: Sarah, Abe's wife, had been barren her whole life. Now she was wrinkly old, well past any child-bearning years. The idea that nations would be birthed through her was laughable (Genesis 17:17). And still Abraham believed God at his word.
And so God kept his promise. Out of death, came life. Out of a dead womb, came a promised one who would lead countless many to faith.
Note: I reflect a lot on this website about how God uses young people throughout Scripture… but it's just as apparent that God uses older people too. In fact, it seems that God will use anyone at any age of any gender of any ethnicity and even of any religion to accomplish what He wants to do. (People! He spoke through a donkey!! God can utilize anyone He wants!) So again I am struck about how much poorer our churches are today than they should be. We tend to segregate our congregations, separating young from old, compartmentalizing people according to age categories. Look, God worked through an old faithful couple, and God worked through a newborn laughable baby… and God even worked through a dolt of a middle aged nephew… Perhaps we should consider that God might want to work holistically throughout our generations today.