God Will Make You Sing

TEXT: 1 Samuel 1:1-16

SUBJECT: Hannah’s prayer and vow before God

First Samuel is a continuation of the story in the book of Judges. The story of 1 Samuel begins late in the tumultuous time of the judges when Eli is judge and priest and Israel is being oppressed by the Philistines.  The book opens with a woman’s anguish. Her story highlights the truth that God is bigger than any problem that we may encounter. We must, therefore only trust Him.  Don’t give up hope. God is listening. Remember that there is purpose in everything God allows in your life.

The name Hannah means “grace” (or favour). One would expect that with a name like that, Hannah would have been experiencing the blessings of peace, provision and progeny. But it was not so for Hannah. Her life was marked by reproach and misery. Her husband had a second wife named Peninnah, which in the Hebrew means “pearl” or “jewel”. The irony is that Peninnah’s behaviour towards Hannah did not display the beauty of her own name.

Hannah could not bear children for her husband. This would be extremely hard on women in those days for to have your womb closed was taken as an indication that she was cursed by God. For Hannah, she not only had to deal with the reality of not being able to have children but she was provoked constantly by Peninnah to the point where she would not eat.

However, I invite you to look at Hannah’s attitude in the midst of her pain. Like Job, she did not charge God with wrong (Job 1:22). Instead, she recognized His sovereignty – that He was the One who opens and closes the womb – and began praying to Him to open hers. In offering her prayer, Hannah was acknowledging God’s control over all her life’s circumstances. We must recognize that there is absolutely nothing that comes upon us that God does not know about. He sees all. He feels all that we are going through (Hebrews 4:15) and He is working out them all out for our good (Romans 8:28). Yes, our situations may seem desolate and we may not see a way out but God is in control. He has purpose for whatever it is that you are going through and He will not waste your pain (Romans 8:18).

Hannah understood that her only hope was in God and so she looked to Him in prayer and mourning. Yes, you may have to cry sometimes. There is no promise that things will always be easy but there is an assurance that God will deliver you out of the storms and afflictions of your life (Psalm 34:19). He will come through for you so go through it. Don’t give up! Hold on! God is on your side. His promise towards you should remind you that whatever the challenge that has entered your life did not come to break you but to establish you and move you towards your purpose. In Jeremiah 29:11, He says, “ I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Hallelujah! His intentions towards you are good. They are not to harm you in any way. You will not break under the pressure. You will not suffer in vain. You will not live in despair. He will give you hope and a future.  Hope sounds like expectation. It sounds like there is a silver lining – a light at the end of the tunnel. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning Psalm 30:5). Are you at the darkest moment in your life? Then rejoice because your morning is nigh.

It was night time for Hannah. Her agony was recognized by those around her. While Peninnah jeered and ridiculed her, her husband was there as a support. You see, despite those who may not understand your situation – the Peninnahs in your life – God will always place someone in your life who will support you. Not only will He send you support but His precious Holy Spirit will be your help in time of weakness (Romans 8:26).

When faced with life’s challenges, many make the decision to walk away from God and throw in the towel. Not Hannah. In the midst of such profound testing, she kept following after God. Year after year she kept going up to the house of the Lord for worship, even though it meant travelling with another woman who was provoking her (verse 7). Hannah’s Prayer is a thoughtful and intense one:

“O Lord Almighty” – She recognized the sovereignty and omnipotence of God. He is God Almighty. If He could not fix her situation, nobody else could.  He is mighty to save and strong to deliver (Zeph 3:17).

“Look upon upon your servant’s misery and remember me.” – Part of walking with God is putting your request before Him. Never be afraid to cry out to God and ask Him to intervene in your situation. It is not a sign of weakness but a sign of trust.

“I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life” –  Hannah was specific in her request. She wanted a man child – a son – and she will give back that son to the Lord. Hannah’s vow was not meaningless bargaining with God. No! It was a mighty expression of faith. She knows that God can open her womb and if he does, she is willing to respond to His grace (the meaning of her name) by giving back that son to Him.

In pouring out her heart before God, He heard her and He opened up her womb and she conceived and bore her husband a child (1 Samuel 1:19-20). Her morning had come. Her time of rejoicing had arrived and her pain had ended. Hannah was no longer a reproach of object of scorn for being barren. God had turned things around. He had turned her mourning into dancing and had given her beauty for ashes. God raised Hannah’s son, Samuel, to be a prolific prophet and not one of his words fell to the ground (1 Samuel 3:19).

Hannah’s song of Joy in chapter 2 showed us that her joy in God transcended her own desire to keep her son to her side but to release him in God’s hand. It was that kind of surrender that made Samuel great but more importantly that contributed to Hannah being one of the redoubtable women of faith in scripture.

God will make you sing again. He will make you laugh again. Your brokenness was not meant to destroy you. Hannah sings in the end:

My heart exults in the Lord;
my strength is exalted in the Lord.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in your salvation.

There is none holy like the Lord;
there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.

Bible Principles for Daily Living

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As we go through our lives, there are some principles that will help us on our faith journey.

PRINCIPLE 1:

  • KNOW GOD. Daniel 11:32b “but the people who know their God will display strength and take action” (NASB). An intimate and genuine knowledge of God leads to an unshakable TRUST & CONFIDENCE in Him; that when we come up against life’s challenges and temptations, we are able to stand firm and obey. Often we become despondent with life and disappointed with God because we do not truly know who God is (Sovereign, Faithful, unchangeable etc.). A church sister of mine, when faced with sickness, instead of just moping around and giving up hope, displayed great strength when she said, “My God is bigger than that”. In that moment of potentially debilitating fear, she drew on her knowledge of her BIG God and instead of fear and dispair, she hoped. Let us endevour to truly get to know the God whom we have believed and be fully persuaded that He is able…God Bless you, have a great day and take time to KNOW GOD.

PRINCIPLE 2:

  • LOVE GOD: We are not only called to KNOW God but we are also called to LOVE GOD: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). I have found in my own life that the more I grew in my love relationship with God, the easier it became to serve and obey. In John 14:5, Jesus suggests that His disciples love for Him is the motivation for keeping His commandments. That is not so hard to fathom. If we look at our own love relationships, when we love someone, it becomes easier for us to go the extra mile for them; to make the sacrifices. Do we go the extra mile when it comes to God? Do we obey easily? Do we really LOVE God (more than these)? Our love for God is reflected in the quality of our service and in our obedience. O, that the children of God will truly love him and that love be reflected so that the unbelievers will see our commitment/devotion and our faith will be a witness (because we practice what we preach). Will you let it begin with you?

 

PRINCIPLE 3:

  • REMEMBER GOD: Navigating our way through life can be a lot more meaningful and less frustrating if we: KNOW God; LOVE God and REMEMBER GOD. Humans so quickly forget. We forget the things God had done either when things are wonderful & we no longer need a favour from Him or we forget when things become terrible and then worry sets in. Moses admonished the Israelites, “TAKE CARE NOT TO FORGET THE LORD, WHO BROUGHT YOU OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT, THAT PLACE OF SLAVERY” (Deut 6:12). Remembering what God has done not only keeps us grateful; it helps us meet the vicissitudes of life with the full assurance that God has done it before, so he certainly can do it again. I have experience worry flee as I reminded myself of ALL that God had done before. Take a minute or two to look back over your life and REMEMBER the things that GOD has done and watch fear, worry and despair flee.

Coping with Worry & Depression: What Does the Bible Say? Part 2

Day Four

Can worry alter our circumstances or change our lives for the better?

Luke 12:22-31
Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on…..For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Jesus’ point is clear: Worry accomplishes nothing. It cannot supply the very least of our needs or wants, so we should strive to eliminate it from our thinking. Our energy is much better spent focusing on God’s way of life (which has real, tangible benefits) and soon-coming Kingdom (which will ultimately satisfy our most deeply felt needs).

So if there is nothing to be gained from worrying and anxiety, how does it really affect our lives? Proverbs 12:25: Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.

Anxious feelings that are not properly dealt with cause us to have the unhappy and disheartened feelings associated with depression. In contrast, focusing on good and positive things makes us glad and cheerful.

 

Day Five

What should we focus on?

Proverbs 15:13 states: A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.

The Bible uses the term heart to describe the innermost source of all that we think and do. Focusing on positive things leads to a heart filled with optimism and confidence, while focusing on worry only fills the heart with pessimism and uncertainty.

Jeremiah 17:5-8: Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord……”Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.”

Proverbs 3:5-6Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Worry and anxiety are often the result of our being overly focused on our physical capabilities and limitations—what we or others can do humanly—rather than on the awesome and limitless capabilities of God, and what He can do for us and through us.

Day Six

When I am faced with tremendous worry I must admit that it is hard not to but that is when I rely on myself, but when I trust God, He helps me believe me, and encourages me through His Word. Some of the stories that do this are:

David in Psalm 34:4-6- I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.Even though David suffered severe anxiety at times, he kept learning and relearning that trusting in God to provide for his needs and deliver him from difficulties would resolve his problems. No matter how big the problem is, God can solve it (Psalm 40:1-2).

Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:8-10- For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us…Paul understood that God is the only true source of help. Paul faced many anxiety-inducing situations in his ministry and travels, but consistently trusted that God would provide deliverance from these situations that were beyond human control.

And the story of Jesus in Matthew 26:37-39- And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

When He experienced tremendous anxiety over what He was about to suffer during His trial and crucifixion, Jesus wholly committed Himself to the will of God. He knew that the direction God had set for His life would ultimately produce the best possible outcome. Even if suffering had to be endured for a time, He trusted that it was a necessary but brief step on the path to a permanent, glorious future.

 

 Day Seven

Instead of worrying, the Bible tells us to spend our time praying. If we prayed as much as we worried, each one of us would have a whole lot less to worry about. Most times we confuse planning for tomorrow to worrying about tomorrow. Planning for tomorrow is time well spent however worrying about tomorrow is time wasted. Careful planning is thinking ahead about our goals, steps and schedules trusting in God’s guidance. This gives us confidence in God and in the process helps alleviate worry. Whereas when we worry, it is consumed by fear making it difficult for us to trust God wholeheartedly.

Is God interested in all our daily problems and things that concerns us? Yes. He’s interested in every detail of our lives. That means we can take any problem we have to Him without hesitation!

Whenever we pray, we should always pray with thanksgiving. The healthiest human emotion is not love but gratitude, it actually increases our immunities. It makes us more resistant to stress and less susceptible to illness. People who are grateful are happy people. But people who are ungrateful are miserable because nothing makes them happy. They’re never satisfied. It’s never good enough. So if we cultivate the attitude of gratitude of being thankful in everything, it will reduce stress in our lives.

What is the result of not worrying, praying about everything, giving thanks, and focusing on the right things? Paul says in Philippians 4:7 we will then “experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard our hearts and minds as we live in Christ Jesus.”  Wow!  He is guaranteeing us peace of mind? Do you realize this is exactly what everyone seems to be looking for? We’ve got it right here. So like “The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help”.–1 Timothy 5:5; just “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”.–1 Peter 5:7; “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall”.–Psalm 55:22