His purpose, my place

            This past week I have been learning and meditating from the life of Hannah in 1 Samuel. My heart and mind are still being stretched in trying to understand the faith that she had in the Lord, to faithfully maintain his promises, and to sovereignly carry her through each circumstance that would come her way.  Yet at the same time I am blessed to be able to look back on her life and see, she had a past. She didn’t accept the Lord’s will and promise to give her and her son’s life to the Lord all of the sudden. She went through years of depression, not eating, doubting, fearing, a bitter and irritated attitude, bad relationships with her family, especially her husband, and more.
            And yet the Lord knew her and saw her in her trouble. The whole time he was waiting patiently for her heart to return to him and allow him to restore and heal those broken places. He was waiting for her to admit that she needed him. That she needed his help, his strength, his forgiveness, his mercy, his grace...
            "God had a purpose for her life and his goal could not be fulfilled until she accepted his divine control over the very things she was helpless to change.”

            I am thankful for the life of Hannah, its record, its truths, and especially for her beautiful prayer 1 Samuel 2. I am thankful to see an example of a woman who has felt the way I do and lived in the pit the way I have, and yet she found restoration, forgiveness, and healing in calling on the name of the Lord and submitting to his will for her life. I am thankful to see the depiction of the two roads I can take with my life, every day. The one that leads to depression, tears, and anguish, or the one that leads to wholeness, security, and freedom. I am thankful to know the consequences of sin are for everyone because our God is a just and righteous God. To fear him like Hannah is to understand he has the right to abandon us, when we are constantly abandoning him. I am thankful to rest assured that hope and blessings will flow from abandoned obedience to his words and his will over my life.

            I am thankful that through reading and meditating on Hannah’s story I am moved even more to get out of my ‘pits’ and pursue the freedom and wholeness I can have in Christ. I am thankful it didn’t take me years to get out of the things it took Hannah to, because the Lord had abundant grace over me.

            But the thing we don’t see in Hannah’s short-recorded story is the ups and downs, the highs and lows of her getting out of her pit. And that is perhaps the most difficult part. For each time we fall, the pit of despair seems to again be so close. The temptation to think 'I will never change, I will never really be free again' starts to take residence in our minds. And rightly so, as soon as we think we've taken a step forward on our own, the Lord breaks us again and shows us, no, I am the one taking these steps, not you, trust in me.
           Yet she started with a heart that was contrite and broken before the Lord. Finally realizing there was nothing, nothing in her power she could do but give up to Him all that she was carrying, and trust Him to carry her.  I know it wasn’t a straight uphill climb from the moment she made that promise, but I know she made the commitment, and the Lord made His commitment in return, and together they climbed. He carried her life, and she trusted him to secure her.

            Lord help me learn from Hannah. Help me live with faith like Hannah. Help me prayer with the heart of Hannah. Help me see the relationships, friendships, possessions, and knowledge I have as gifts from you alone.

    And Hannah prayed and said,

    “My heart exults in the LORD;
        my horn is exalted in the LORD.
    My mouth derides my enemies,
        because I rejoice in your salvation.
    “There is none holy like the LORD:
        for there is none besides you;
        there is no rock like our God.
    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.
    The bows of the mighty are broken,
        but the feeble bind on strength.
    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.
    The LORD kills and brings to life;
        he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
    The LORD makes poor and makes rich;
        he brings low and he exalts.
    He raises up the poor from the dust;
        he lifts the needy from the ash heap

    to 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.
    “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.
    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 horn of his anointed.”
1 Samuel 2:1-10

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