You have a desire that has gone unmet. You see everyone else walking through opened doors while you ice the bruises left by all the doors slammed in your face. Why can’t you get a good job, marry a great spouse, or have a cute baby? Why can’t your health be up to par, your bank accounts be in the black, and your family be intact?
In 1 Samuel chapter 1 we read about a lady named Hannah who knows all too well how you are feeling. Unlike her oh-so-fertile rival, Peninnah, she was barren. One day, Hannah decided to go into the temple where she asked the Lord to “remember” her. “Remember” in this context is more than to recall that she exists. Hannah is asking that God go into action on her behalf and give her a son.
I absolutely love verse 10. It says “in bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord.” (1 Sam 1:10) Yasssss! She took her bitterness and her weeping to the Lord.
Go to the Lord just as you are: unemployed, single, barren, sick, broke, broken—bitter and weeping! Go just like that! Hannah did!
Verse 18 says she walked into that temple downcast but walked out in His peace! (1 Sam 1:18) Then comes verse 20. What do you know? It reads, “In the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son.” (1 Sam 1:20)
God said yes. Nice!
I am so grateful that we have this passage of scripture to demonstrate to us the power of prayer.
However . . .
I have a feeling someone reading this is like me. You’re thinking what if I go to the Lord, pray, and “in the course of time” I still find my desire unmet? Not everyone who prays for a child gets one. Not everyone who prays for a job gets one. There are some prayer warriors out there who are still broke, sick, and weeping who would rather not be!!
The Apostle Paul would agree with you. He, like Hannah, prayed to the Lord. Unlike Hannah, he entered the Lord’s presence with this tormenting thorn and after pleading with Him to remove it, he still had this tormenting thorn. (2 Cor 12:7-10)
God said no. Ouch!
That is perhaps what we are afraid of. We imagine entering God’s presence with lack and feeling miserable about the lack, asking the Lord to “remember” us, concluding the prayer with a hardy “Amen…” and continuing on with the same lack and misery.
However, that is not at all what the lives of Hannah and Paul demonstrate for us. They both equally illustrate the mind-boggling power of prayer. This power is not produced by the answer but rather by the One who answers.
Any word that rolls off the tongue of the Almighty God is a blessing—be it a “yes” or a “no”! Hannah’s “yes” empowered her to give birth Samuel whom she dedicated to the Lord and who grew up to be a prophet and priest in Israel. Paul’s “no” empowered him to see that his weakness was a good fit for God’s sufficient grace and power. (2 Cor 12:9)
The “yes” to Hannah and the “no” to Paul both echo the tune of God’s faithfulness, His sovereignty, His power, and His love for us.
Keep praying to the Lord even “in bitterness of soul.” Go ahead and plead with Him. “In the course of time,” we will hear a “yes” like Hannah and go on to give birth to our desire or we will hear a “no” like Paul and walk away boasting about God’s sufficient grace and perfected power.
Both sound great to me.
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