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Posts Tagged ‘God’s power’

Oh, Hannah, why are you crying? Why aren’t you eating? And why are you so upset? Am I not of more worth to you than ten sons? (1 Samuel 1-MSG)

 

He didn’t understand. A loving husband, he reassured her of his devotion and cast aside the expectations of the day. But thoughts of the other woman intruded—unwelcome—and the cruel sting of her words embedded themselves in the tender places of Hannah’s soul.

At times, Hannah’s heart felt as hollow as her womb and, despite Elkanah’s gentle encouragement and generous love-gifts, nothing relieved the emptiness of her arms.

How she longed to hold a baby—feel its precious weight against her, inhale the fresh-from-heaven-scent, experience the ebb and flow of mother-life pouring sweet and abundant from her body to nourish a child.

Yet the years passed—one, two, ten or more–and the journey to the Lord’s tabernacle became Hannah’s personal trail of tears—the path from sorrow to depression and depression to despair.

Maybe He was her last resort. Perhaps it was the nudging of the Spirit. But, on one particular return visit to the tabernacle, Hannah made a decision that changed her life and impacted the spiritual direction of an entire nation.

prayer-888757_1920

She prayed.

Crushed in soul (1 Sam. 1-MSG) and weeping with abandon, Hannah poured out every bit of her brokenness before God—the hurt, the loneliness, the desperation. Her fervent praying even caught the attention of Eli, the tabernacle’s priest. Mistaking Hannah’s silent muttering for drunkenness, God’s man even reprimanded her.

You’re drunk. How long do you plan to keep this up?

 Upon hearing Hannah’s story, though, he pronounced a blessing—a salve to an aching woman’s wounds.

Go in peace. And may the God of Israel give you what you have asked of him.

 A few years later, Hannah returned to the place of her prayers—a young boy trailing by her side. Greeting the old priest, the woman who had bowed humbly before God explained that this child—her child—belonged to the Lord.

And they worshiped Him together.

What an incredible picture of God’s faithfulness and mercy! The God Who Sees All never lost sight of His daughter. He listened to her cries, captured each tear, and answered her prayers.

And this same unchanging, all-knowing, wonder-working God? He is there for us in the same way He was for Hannah—patiently waiting for us to come to Him with our needs…our burdens…our hurts.

And, one day? Maybe the same will be said of you or me.

She prayed.

 

Scripture for Reflection

  1.  Do you think it’s a coincidence that each time Hannah was preparing to worship, the enemy came against her?
  2. What causes you to struggle in worship?
  3.  How has God redeemed your past hurts?  Or, is there a heart-wound you are laying before Him now?
  4.  In what way does His faithfulness encourage you in your walk?

 

1 Samuel 1

1-2 There once was a man who lived in Ramathaim. He was descended from the old Zuph family in the Ephraim hills. His name was Elkanah. (He was connected with the Zuphs from Ephraim through his father Jeroham, his grandfather Elihu, and his great-grandfather Tohu.) He had two wives. The first was Hannah; the second was Peninnah. Peninnah had children; Hannah did not.

3-7 Every year this man went from his hometown up to Shiloh to worship and offer a sacrifice to God-of-the-Angel-Armies. Eli and his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, served as the priests of God there. When Elkanah sacrificed, he passed helpings from the sacrificial meal around to his wife Peninnah and all her children, but he always gave an especially generous helping to Hannah because he loved her so much, and because God had not given her children. But her rival wife taunted her cruelly, rubbing it in and never letting her forget that God had not given her children. This went on year after year. Every time she went to the sanctuary of God she could expect to be taunted. Hannah was reduced to tears and had no appetite.

Her husband Elkanah said, “Oh, Hannah, why are you crying? Why aren’t you eating? And why are you so upset? Am I not of more worth to you than ten sons?”

9-11 So Hannah ate. Then she pulled herself together, slipped away quietly, and entered the sanctuary. The priest Eli was on duty at the entrance to God’s Temple in the customary seat. Crushed in soul, Hannah prayed to God and cried and cried—inconsolably. Then she made a vow:

Oh, God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
If you’ll take a good, hard look at my pain,
If you’ll quit neglecting me and go into action for me
By giving me a son,
I’ll give him completely, unreservedly to you.
I’ll set him apart for a life of holy discipline.

12-14 It so happened that as she continued in prayer before God, Eli was watching her closely. Hannah was praying in her heart, silently. Her lips moved, but no sound was heard. Eli jumped to the conclusion that she was drunk. He approached her and said, “You’re drunk! How long do you plan to keep this up? Sober up, woman!”

15-16 Hannah said, “Oh no, sir—please! I’m a woman hard used. I haven’t been drinking. Not a drop of wine or beer. The only thing I’ve been pouring out is my heart, pouring it out to God. Don’t for a minute think I’m a bad woman. It’s because I’m so desperately unhappy and in such pain that I’ve stayed here so long.”

17 Eli answered her, “Go in peace. And may the God of Israel give you what you have asked of him.”

18 “Think well of me—and pray for me!” she said, and went her way. Then she ate heartily, her face radiant.

19 Up before dawn, they worshiped God and returned home to Ramah. Elkanah slept with Hannah his wife, and God began making the necessary arrangements in response to what she had asked.

 

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Squat, aluminum spaces enclosed by unwelcoming barbed wire or steel gates are located randomly around the city. Marked by such signs as Storage-R-Us and The Space Place, people like you and I gather “stuff”—undesirable items and maybe-we’ll-use-them-someday-things—and pay hundreds of dollars every year just to have a video camera supervise our favorite junk.

While storage units can effectively meet a short-lived need, they were never designed to store clutter for months or years at a time. Yet, 50% of all units are filled with unwanted castoffs—furniture, old toys, and unused clothing—secret places clogged by material surplus.

Clutter

 

Like a personal storage unit, my mind is often full of spiritual clutter. The uneccesary…the unneeded…. even the unwelcome. Misguided self-perceptions, worry, unkind words spoken by another, past sins I hold onto out of guilt. Like a jumbled collection of debris tucked away in a rented lot, my self-created storage space grows crowded. Sometimes I’ll dig through the mess and rediscover a memory.

You’re worthless.

The carefully guarded words reemerge from the past—taunting me.
What was I thinking? I can’t believe God could forgive me for that.

Self-accusation robs my joy and disregards the mercy of the cross.

The accumulated rubbish stands testimony to my inability to let go—to give the One my faults…my hurt…my self-accusation. Then, he gently reminds me. Stop holding onto this debris! It does nothing but fill empty space when I promise to fill your heart.

Let me take it—all of it– for you, Child. Let me have your spiritual clutter and I’ll give you freedom.

 And when I set aside the unwanted castoffs? I no longer pay the price of keeping a tight hold on the stuff of the past.

Instead?  I’m rid of the spiritual clutter.  Friend, let’s remember to give Jesus our mess!

Scripture for Reflection

he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. 

(Titus 3:5)

 

 

 

LIVEFREETHURSDAY

 

 

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Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost. (1 Samuel 3:9)

SIt’s an ordinary day–not unlike any other. You sip half a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts hazelnut coffee and start your morning routine. Pack lunches…sign student planners…feed the dog. You’ve set out vitamins, breakfast dishes, toast and cereal. You’re youngest two children wake up and start squabbling while one of the highschoolers refuses to get out of bed and the other starts throwing up.

Yes–it’s another ordinary day.

Is God in the middle of all of this ordinary? You wonder.

Saul probably asked the same thing. “The donkeys ran off again,” his dad said. Saul knew what that meant–a couple of days roaming the countryside with his servant boy and a loaf of bread. It was an ordinary day in Saul’s life, too.

Saul’s normal day led from one seemingly unconnected event to the next, but a closer look at Chapter 9 reveals a picture of God’s involvement in the smallest of details. Like a dot-to-dot, each step brings Saul closer to the fulfillment of something greater. In his case, it was becoming Israel’s king.

In my case? Not so much. But, God is in the details. The regular, minute-by-minute, this-is-my-life details. From that first taste of coffee until the moment I close my eyes, God is there. At the end of the road–when I’ve stopped chasing the donkeys–I’ll be able to understand more about his plan.

Where do you think the donkeys are taking you?

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