It’s History now, but stories still inspire. In my last post I introduced you to Hannah and her story. We left off with her feeling hopeless.
She had done all she could. She was out of answers. However, she could pray, believe, and wait. In short, if God didn’t show up and do something, then she would never have a child.
That’s what she did. Like the Psalmist she poured out her complaint to God and told Him all about her trouble (Psalm 142:2). Her prayer led to personal peace for we read, “And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad (1 Samuel 1:18, ESV). Soon after she experienced…
Omnipotence. That is, God stepped in. “They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her” (1 Samuel 1:19, ESV).
Perhaps you are thinking, “I can only take so much.” “Or how long will it take?” Or “What’s the purpose in all my mess?”
That’s when you need…
Promises. Not a promise that your pain will go away. Not that the sun will shine brightly on your life tomorrow. You need to know that God is always working, despite what you see and feel. In the present things don’t make sense. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28), ESV).
Or do we? We’re beginning to doubt. So right now maybe a lot of problems and predicaments are weaving their way throughout your life. Everywhere you look there are dark clouds.
There is another great story about Joseph. Note what he said about all that he had gone through: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20, ESV). The phrase you meant evil against me could be translated you weaved evil into my life. Which they did.
But what did God do? He re-weaved all the bad stuff and turned it into one spectacular finish. I realize happy endings are not automatic. But what I want you to see is the promise that God is working. That’s what we need to know.
That should lead you to our final letter…
Encouragement. Hope and encouragement. Those are found throughout the Old Testament. Even the apostle Paul was aware of the value to be found in the Scriptures, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4, ESV).
H.O.P.E. can be a reality in the midst of your own pain. Is it?
Now that was in the day when you could leave your child alone and he would be perfectly safe. At any rate, she soon realized that she had left one. Hey, remembering three out of four is not bad, unless you are the one who is left behind.
When she arrived back on the crime scene, there I was crying. I was so young I do not recall the incident, however I am sure it accounts for some of my behavioral idiosyncrasies today.
Let’s fast forward to adulthood. We still don’t want to be left behind or left out. There was a time in Israel’s history when they thought God had forgotten about them.
In fact, the pain was so great that in the 80th Psalm the Psalmist repeated himself three times (verse 3 is repeated times).
1 Please listen, O Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph’s descendants like a flock.
O God, enthroned above the cherubim,
display your radiant glory
2 to Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh.
Show us your mighty power.
Come to rescue us!
3 Turn us again to yourself, O God.
Make your face shine down upon us.
Only then will we be saved.
The historical context is not certain.
Perhaps Israel is about to be invaded by the Assyrian army, or it may be in the past. Either way Israel was in trouble. And as human nature is they felt forgotten and abandoned by God.
Well, that is exactly what Israel is praying. In fact, verse 3 is repeated three times in the Psalm. Three times! This is an impassioned plea for God’s attention.
As I stood crying on the sidewalk, I suppose that was my way of saying, “Mom, please turn around and rescue me.” And when you are in trouble, you will repeatedly ask God to turn around, smile with favor upon you, and rescue you from your trouble.
Yes, you will feel abandoned at times. But just because you cannot see God does not mean He does not care. He’ll show up. Just keep looking.