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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Your Steadfast Love is Better than Life... and Motherhood, and.....

1 Samuel 1:19-27 and I Samuel 2:1-11
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. 20 And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord.”21 The man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow. 22 But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, so that he may appear in the presence of the Lord and dwell there forever.” 23 Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him; only, may the Lord establish his word.” So the woman remained and nursed her son until she weaned him. 24 And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. And the child was young. 25 Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. 26 And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. 27 For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. 28 Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.2:1 And Hannah prayed and said,“My heart exults in the Lord;my strength is exalted in the Lord.My mouth derides my enemies,because I rejoice in your salvation.2 “There is none holy like the Lord;there is none besides you;there is no rock like our God.3 Talk no more so very proudly,let not arrogance come from your mouth;for the Lord is a God of knowledge,and by him actions are weighed.4 The bows of the mighty are broken,but the feeble bind on strength.5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.The barren has borne seven,but she who has many children is forlorn.6 The Lord kills and brings to life;he brings down to Sheol and raises up.7 The Lord makes poor and makes rich;he brings low and he exalts.8 He raises up the poor from the dust;he lifts the needy from the ash heapto make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor.For the pillars of the earth are the Lord's,and on them he has set the world.9 “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,for not by might shall a man prevail.10 The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces;against them he will thunder in heaven.The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;he will give strength to his king and exalt the power of his anointed.”11 Then Elkanah went home to Ramah. And the boy ministered to the Lord in the presence of Eli the priest.

Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

I love what came out of Hannah earnestly seeking the Lord by pouring her heart out to Him sincerely in prayer in faith. He met her! He restored to her the joy of her salvation. He enabled her to trust Him and to see His character. He enabled her to worship Him. He enabled her to love Him and her husband. All of these things could not happen in Hannah’s own strength from her place of deep despair, but the Lord was faithful to do these things! Her heart was changed, not because she got what she wanted, but because the Lord changed her heart when she sought Him and He enabled Hannah to see His goodness and to experience His peace. Even more than the blessing of a child, this was the reward of earnestly seeking the Lord!

How do I know that seeing the Lord was her reward, independantly from acheiving motherhood? Hannah experienced joy and peace and reconciliation even before she received the blessing of a child! Before she knew that she would be a mother, she learned to trust God in the midst of her trial and she was enabled to worship God and love others (like her husband). The story of Hannah in the Bible ends with her beautiful song of praise, right after she gives up her only child for service to the Lord! Something in Hannah's heart must have changed! God revealed more and more of His character to Hannah through her trial, and seeing His character grew love in her heart for Him, producing great joy and peace for her!

How many times have we prayed for a child! What a day it would be if the Lord sees fit to bless us with a child too! Yet, if He never does, I want to still trust Him and His character—His Lovingkindness, His Mercy, His Righteousness, His Justice, His Perfect Goodness, His Faithfulness, His Sovereignty, His Might, etc. More than any other blessing, I want to know Him, I want to see His beauty in increasing measure, I want to love Him, I want to treasure Him above all else, I want to worship Him, and I want to love others because of Him. These are my primary desires. I want these primary desires to trump all of my other desires, and I want my desire for children to flow only from these primary desires. My only hope for this is to keep going back to Lord humbly and honestly, like Hannah did. I must earnestly seek Him like Hannah did. What does it mean to seek Him earnestly? defines earnest as: 1. serious in intention, purpose, or effort; sincerely zealous: an earnest worker; 2. showing depth and sincerity of feeling: earnest words; an earnest entreaty; 3. seriously important; demanding or receiving serious attention.–noun 4. full seriousness, as of intention or purpose: to speak in earnest.

This definition of "earnest" helped shed light on Psalm 63 for me as David earnestly sought the Lord in the wilderness and in the midst of his trials. In David’s earnest (serious, intentional, sincere, zealous, important) seeking, the Lord revealed His goodness and satisfied David’s soul, bringing him joy, peace, and trust in the middle of uncertain circumstances. Every time I have earnestly sought the Lord, He has been faithful to reveal Himself to me. The result is more joy, peace, and trust in Him! Oh, that I would more often and more naturally seek Him earnestly in all the circumstances of my life so that I might be satisfied with His steadfast love that truly is better than life!

Psalm 63
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;my soul thirsts for you;my flesh faints for you,as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,beholding your power and glory.3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,my lips will praise you.4 So I will bless you as long as I live;in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,6 when I remember you upon my bed,and meditate on you in the watches of the night;7 for you have been my help,and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.8 My soul clings to you;your right hand upholds me.
9 But those who seek to destroy my lifeshall go down into the depths of the earth;10 they shall be given over to the power of the sword;they shall be a portion for jackals.11 But the king shall rejoice in God;all who swear by him shall exult,for the mouths of liars will be stopped.

1 comment:

Heather said...

Looking forward to Monday night. I appreciate your lessons on the life of Hannah!