Number The Stars If You Can

The first reading of today's liturgy is one of the most well-known Old Testament passages: God's response to Abraham when he (Abe) protests that God promised him heirs and he doesn't have any yet. From Genesis 15:5
And he brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then he said to him, "So shall your descendants be." And he believed the LORD; and he reckoned it to him as righteousness.
All my life I have understood that to mean that God promised Abraham his descendants would be too numerous to count. I think that's how most people take it.

Well, it does mean that, but I note a little something further down in the text. Skip down to verse 12 and we find an intriguing detail:
As the sun was going down...
Going down? Don't you always picture God leading Abraham out to look at a brilliant night sky? If instead, as the text actually indicates, he showed Abraham the sky in the brightness of day, well that tells us something different about what Abraham saw, the lesson the Lord was teaching him, and the greatness of his faith, doesn't it? Abraham wasn't contemplating numberless stars and trusting the Lord to make his heirs as numerous. He was likely looking up at nothing --and trusting the Lord to make a something for him out of the nothing he saw. That's faith. Not following signs, but trusting the Lord merely because the one who is Truth itself will not lie to us.