Thursday, November 6, 2008

Desperate Hearts

"In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD. And she made a vow, saying, "O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head."
As she kept on praying to the LORD, Eli observed her....Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, "How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine."
"Not so, my lord," Hannah replied, "I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief."
Eli answered, "Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him."
She said, "May your servant find favor in your eyes." Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast. "-1st Samuel 1:10-18

This was one of the passages that Paige Benton Brown (PBB) discussed at the conference I attended. Hannah was a desperate heart. She desperately wanted a son. And what did she do with that? She went desperately to the Lord. So desperately that the priest, Eli, thought she was drunk. It was so rare to see someone that passionate in prayer, that broken before the Lord that the priest thought this woman was drunk. She doesn't show up all big and strong and composed asking for her hearts desire. She is a mess.

And I just love the transition that takes place between these three moments:
1) Hannah begins "in bitterness of soul" weeping and praying to the Lord
2) Hannah "pours out her soul" to the Lord
3) Hannah goes her way and "her face is no longer downcast"

How do I go from "bitterness of soul" to "no longer downcast"? By pouring out my soul to the Lord. And, as PBB points out she leaves a different person "not because the prayer was answered but because the prayer was offered". She still did not have a son when she left nor the assurance that she would ever have one. But she knew that God was Sovereign, Consistent and Loved her. She had handed over her request to the one who knows better than she does what is truly best for her.

Kathy Keller said our sorrows, our sufferings, our conflicts are all weighing God's character against our own wisdom. That is the only conflict that ever has to be decided when we are suffering.

Hannah knew that whether she had a child or not, God's character was greater than her knowledge of the situation.

I'm working on trying to rest in that knowledge as well.
And I hope, whatever you are going through, that you can too.

1 comment:

Xaris said...

You know, I was in that conference, sometimes sitting right beside you, but man does this hit me like a mack truck.