Contentment in God or …?

based on the LGG Study, Enduring Hope / w4d3

Today’s Reading: 1 Samuel 1:1-2:10 / SOAP – 1:15-16

But Hannah replied, “Not so, my lord! I am a woman under a great deal of stress. I haven’t drunk wine or beer. But I have poured out my soul before the Lord. 16 Don’t consider your servant a wicked woman. It’s just that, to this point, I have spoken from my deep pain and anguish.”

1 Samuel 1:15-16

If you’ve known me long, heard me teach, or read many of my blogs you have likely heard or read my story of being childless for the first eight years of marriage. It is tempting to apologize for the repetitiveness, but I don’t, for it is the testimony of God’s work in my life. It was a time when He revealed my lack of contentment in Him. My desire for a child had become so much greater than my desire for God that my trust and hope in Him were barely visible at times. I was hurt when I saw or heard about others who were pregnant; and I was disappointed, even angry, with God every month when I realized, yet again, that I wasn’t pregnant.

In the beginning, I would cry out to God in prayer – much like Hannah, but as the years went on I would “act out”, so to speak. I would chase after other things that I believed could satisfy – for somewhere in my mind I had traded hope in God for hope in my circumstances. My hope had been shaken and shaken hard. I was a good “church girl”, so on Sundays and Wednesdays glimpses of faith and hope would shine light into the wilderness I was trapped in. I was miserable, my marriage was on shaky ground, my friends were having babies so my friendships were threatened – some were even ruined, and I found myself just going through the motions of life … until I found myself spilling my anguish out to my mother one afternoon as we sat on the front porch of her home. While we had a good relationship it was not one where we talked about personal issues like this, so trust me when I say it was a God thing, His perfect timing. I whined about not being pregnant and told her how miserable I was in every area of life and she said, something to the effect of – maybe you just need to learn to be content – which was followed up with some Scripture her Pastor had recently shared in a message. Her response perturbed me at first but I listened to her talk, dried my tears and eventually went home – and poured myself out to God like never before. In the days that followed God began working on my heart and mind and changing me from the inside-out. And, much like with Rachel and Leah in our previous post and Hannah from today, God ‘remembered’ me and within a very short time I learned I was pregnant.

… for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

1 Corinthians 4:11-13

In today’s story, Hannah poured herself out before the LORD. She was so caught up in her prayer, she didn’t realize that Eli, the priest, was watching her; nor did Eli realize that Hannah was praying in her mind to God – instead he thought she was drunk and encouraged her to put away her wine. Of course, Hannah replies that she isn’t drunk but rather under a great deal of stress and pouring out her “soul before the LORD.” She doesn’t elaborate on the source of stress but does request that Eli not consider her a wicked woman but rather to understand that she was pouring herself out before the LORD. She wasn’t speaking from drunkenness but rather from deep pain and anguish.

Scripture says that Eli told Hannah to, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant the request that you have asked of him.” (1 Samuel 1:17) Following her encounter with Eli and his encouraging blessing, Hannah “went her way and got something to eat. Her face no longer looked sad.” She had been refreshed by the prayer of Eli and the next day her mind and heart were occupied with God in worship before returning home. Scripture tells us that soon after this Hannah learned she was pregnant.

The entire family got up early the next morning and went to worship the Lord once more. Then they returned home to Ramah. When Elkanah slept with Hannah, the Lord remembered her plea, 20 and in due time she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I asked the Lord for him.”

1 Samuel 1:19b-20

Response to God’s Word

Father, thank You for allowing us to pour our “souls” out to You. We are a people who need You and You have made it clear from Old Testament to New that we can bring You our fears, our desires like ‘childlessness”, our finances, our concerns, worries, and needs. Help us to trust in You even when we cannot see Your hand. You are a good and faithful father. – Amen!

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