Summary: Prayer, Discouragement, Joy, Commitment
1 Samuel 1:11 (p. 185) October 6, 2013
What is the most painful thing God has told you to accept, or deal with?
Something which you cannot fix or make go away?
Something you will have to deal with on a regular basis and it might never change.
In the new testament there are two different words used to describe patience...both are used by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Colossians...The Apostle is praying for these Christians to not only know God’s will but also they would be filled with discernment about how they should apply God’s will to their lives...so they could be fruitful for the Kingdom...He prays for God to strengthen them with His power...and then he mentions the two types of patience that would be needed for this to happen:
“Hypomone” literally to “remain under” or “abide under.” Under what? Difficult circumstances. This is something you cannot avoid or escape.
And the 2nd word “Makrothumia” made up of 2 compounds “Long” and “Wrath.” Longsuffering is the best translation, or as the NIV does “Endurance”. What’s the difference? One has to do with faithfulness...Hangin’ in there...the other your attitude while it’s happening.
Neither are easy...both are essential for us to become like Jesus. Both hang their hats on “trusting God and His plan.”
[I’ll give you a good example in my life...When I was 10 years old I was burned...badly! 3rd degree burns over 45 – 50% of my body. I spilled rubbing alcohol on myself and when I tried to light a little lamp from a chemistry set my clothes caught fire...It was long before stop, drop and roll...I ran and screamed...My dad saved my life by extinguishing the flames with his own hands and arms...I spent 2 ½ months in St. Joe hospital’s burn unit...They did skin graft surgery...but the scarring was extensive...even though it’s faded some with age...it’s still visible...I was in 5th grade when it happened...it was difficult to go back to school with the scars...everywhere I went someone would ask..what happened to your face...After a while I started responding “What happened to yours?” I used to pray for God to take away the scars...beg him to remove them...He never did...I believe his plan was to teach me both “hypomone” patience in difficult circumstances...and also “makrothumia...endurance for the long haul...I’m 53 and know without a doubt that I would not be the person I am today without the scars...I’m not sure when I started being grateful for them, but eventually I reached a place where I wouldn’t give them back because they speak of God’s work in my life...and they make me view scarred people with a heart that understands.]
Hannah’s heart was scarred...Listen:
1 SAMUEL 1:1-8 (p 185)
Here’s the question for each of us...
I. HOW DO WE DEAL WITH SOMETHING THE LORD HAS CLOSED?
Elkanah had 2 wives...that in itself is absolutely crazy...but regardless Peninnah had children...And in those days children marked the sign of approval from God...it’s why families existed...to be fruitful...to multiply..to provide helpers...Families were the bond that held society together.
V6 says...”The Lord had closed Hannah’s womb.” She has no children...In this society she would be viewed as incomplete...broken...Her self worth and self image would be devastated.
And to make matters worse...Peninnah, her rival made sure she knew how worthless she was...She would provoke Hannah...”where are your sons...O that’s right you have none.”
And even though Elkanah loved her...gave her double portions...he probably shouldn’t have asked...”Hannah, Don’t I mean more to you than children?”
Because he probably wouldn’t have liked the answer.
How long did this dysfunctional situation last? Year after year...
How do we cope with something that’s painful year after year? How do we deal with something that God says no to?
Hannah does two things: She prays and she worships.
Hannah didn’t stop going to the house of the Lord...she continued to worship...to believe...to give...even though she is downhearted...she is still seeking God.
And if I asked each of you who believe...when did you seek God the most earnestly? The answer would be the same as mine...when I hurt the most deeply..It’s not the only time I seek Him...but in my weakness and in my pain...my dependence upon His grace is absolutely essential...And something beautiful happens in this place if we trust...REAL WORSHIP.
The Apostle Paul had an ongoing painful trial in his life...He refers to it as a “Thorn in his flesh”...No one knows what it is but the literal transition is “A STAKE DRIVEN INTO MY BODY....” He writes about this in context to the time he was allowed to see heaven...view paradise...An amazing revelation.
2 CORINTHIANS 12:7-10 (p 808)
Sometimes God doesn’t take away the scars...Sometimes God says “No, you are going to keep the thorn.”
Why, Because God’s power is made perfect in weakness...His grace is sufficient...This world doesn’t need to see how bright I am, or cute, or smart or rich...This world needs to see how the gospel can change Pot heads into Preachers and Arrogant Pharisees into compassionate missionaries.