Ever had the Lord break your heart? I'm not referring to those times when we all, as Christians, need a little correction from the Lord. I’m talking about those times when, as best we know, we are walking in His will, seeking to please Him, that the circumstances of life just seem to crush us. Those times when, for no apparent reason, life seems to just knock the breath out of us. The loss of a cherished friend or loved one... a business failure... the times when we see our life's goals or work go down the drain... what about those times when we just want to ask the Lord: WHY? (That’s OK, even Jesus, on the cross asked the Father “Why...?”-Matt 27:46 ) What about those times when you think you will scream if you hear just one more person glibly say: "Well, all things work together for good..."! What DO you do?
We have just such an account in 1 Samuel chapter 1. It is the familiar story of Hannah. Hannah was married to a man, Elkanah, who had two wives (was he crazy?) : Hannah herself and Peninnah. We are not told much about the situation other than Elkanah loved Hannah even though she was childless- a reproach in Old Testament times. This was a direct result of the Lord's actions in her life: "...the Lord had closed up her womb." (1 Sam. 1:5). We are also told that Peninnah was a thorn in Hannah's side; she was Hannah's rival and "...provoked her severely, to make her miserable..." (v.6). One might argue that Hannah's situation may have been due in part to her own doing- being involved in a dual-spouse situation. But other Old Testament references indicate that it might not have been all that rare of an occurrence in that culture; marriages were sometimes arranged by parents. In any event, she certainly did not choose to be barren, nor to take the intentional abuse she suffered year by year at the hand of Peninnah.
So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh.... [v.9]
And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the LORD and wept in anguish. [v.10]
And Hannah answered [Eli] and said, '...I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have... poured out my soul before the Lord. [v.15]
...for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now.' [v.16]
When Hannah found herself in bitterness, anguish, and grief she poured out her soul to the Lord. We can do likewise. When we feel hurt, disappointed, cheated, or in despair, we can come to the Lord and tell Him EXACTLY how we feel. (Relationships do grow on communication don't they?)
In Hannah's case Eli the priest spoke to her regarding her request:
... 'Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him.' [v.17]
Hannah's request for a son was granted and Samuel the prophet was born. In our case, Jesus is our High Priest...
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. [Heb.4: 15, 16]
In some cases, like Hannah's, the Lord may see fit to change our circumstances. In some cases, He may not, choosing rather to be with us through the difficulty (Deut. 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:5 ; Heb. 13:5) and sometimes change us instead. Even Jesus Himself learned obedience through the things that He suffered (Heb.5:8).
In some instances the Lord may allow us, in time, to see the reason for our present suffering. In others, we may never fully understand the "why" in this lifetime. Even in the book of Job, it was never said that God explained to Job why he suffered. How could Job possibly know that his life had been a battle ground between God and Satan?
It has been said that even when we cannot see God’s hand at work in our life, we can always trust His heart.
“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:10-11)
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7)
[All scripture references are from The New King James Version]
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