pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Deep Need

Reading: 1 Samuel 1: 4-20

Verse 10: “In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord”.

Yes, Elkanah loved Hannah more than anything in the world. Yes, Elkanah treated Hannah much better than his other wife. But shame of shames – Hannah could bear him no children. The second wife, Peninnah, had lots of children. Peninnah frequently reminded Hannah of this fact. This only added to Hannah’s already deep sadness and bitterness. Each year when the family would go up to the temple to worship, Hannah would bring her situation before God.

This particular year the provoking by Peninnah and the deep sadness over her barren state seemed especially painful. Instead of simply praying once more, we read, “In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord”. Hannah felt like she was at the end of her rope. It was not an ordinary prayer that she offered up to God. The Spirit was moving in her as she poured out her soul. This was a deep, gut-wrenching prayer. It was as ripe with emotion as it could get.

We too have uttered this type of prayer. We too have been at the end of our rope and have cried out to God. We too have been at the bottom of our pit and have begged for God to reach down and pull us out. We too have felt so desperate that the prayer just poured out from the core of our souls. Our circumstances or the cause of our situation may have been different, but we have all prayed like this before.

What does Hannah’s prayer reveal? What do our prayers of deep emotion reveal? First, they reveal our utter dependence on God. Sometimes we are weak, unable to alter the situation. But God can. Second, they reveal a trust in God not only to hear but to respond. He alone can rescue. He alone can save. God is faithful to Hannah. Samuel is born. God will be faithful to us as well. May we pour out our souls in those times of deep need, trusting in God to do what we cannot.

Prayer: God, thank you for the reminder today of your deep, deep love for us, your children. Like Hannah, may I always seek you in my deepest times of need, trusting in you and in your plan for my life. Amen.

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Joy

Reading: Psalm 40: 1-5

The psalmist bears excellent witness to the blessings of our relationship with God.  The Psalm begins by recalling a time when the writer waited patiently for God’s response.  At times this is necessary as our days, hours, and minutes do not quite align with God’s sense of time.  Yet we too can wait patiently and can continue to hold fast to hope because we know that God is loving and faithful.  God did indeed respond to the psalmist.  God lifted the writer out of the pit and gave him a firm place to stand.  This brought relief and comfort and joy to the psalmist.  To express this, God placed a hymn of praise in his mouth so that he could sing of the joy of putting his trust in the Lord.

Verse fours begins, “Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust”.  We are indeed blessed when we trust in God.  In many ways the Lord our God blesses us with the riches of His love and with His unending grace.  The psalmist gushes about the many deeds God has done and the things God has planned for mankind.  This is an expression of the joy he finds from living in a righteous relationship with God.  The psalmist is bearing witness to us so that we can follow his example and can share with others what God has done and continues to do in our lives.

The joy that comes from living with God is a joy that permeates our life.  Just as the psalmist was experiencing a time of trial at the start of the Psalm, we too will have times when we are in the midst of sadness or struggle.  Like the psalmist, when we walk through trial or spend time in the pit, we are not alone.  God continues to be present, to bring us comfort and strength, and to wrap us in the arms of His love and grace.  We walk with confidence that God is faithful, that God is with us no matter what.  We know we will get through it with God.  Ultimately, we also know that the end, whether of the trial or of this life, is just temporary.  We live with a trust in the eternal.  In this sense, we live beyond the here and now.  This is a great source of joy.

Oh, what a blessed assurance we have when we live as a child of God!  We have God’s daily presence, love, and guidance.  And we live trusting into an eternal future with God.  Oh how He loves you and me.  Praise and glory be to God the Father!


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Reaching Up

Reading: Psalm 30: 1-5

David rejoices that God has heard his cry and has pulled him out of the pit.  In the Psalm, David reminds us that God’s favor lasts a lifetime.  David admits that there will be times of mourning, but because of God’s favor, we will rejoice in the end as the God who loves us will rescue us.

Even though these are the promises of God, sometimes we choose to stay in the pit.  We choose not to reach up.  We choose not to cry out for help.  Some of the time we think that our mourning will only be for a short while, so we can endure.  Some of the time we think our actions or choices have gotten us to where we are and therefore we ‘deserve’ a little suffering.  Both of these are prideful and have no place in our faith.  Our loving and forgiving God wants us to be joy filled each day.  So He asks us to give Him our burdens in exchange for His joy.  We just have to reach up.

But at times we also refuse the help God offers.  We almost enjoy the misery.  We enjoy the ‘woe is me’ sympathy or attention it brings.  Sometimes bad attention is better than no attention.  At these points we need to be reminded of God’s favor and of our status as child of God, dearly loved.  We must look within and find all that God loves and strive to bring these things out.  In time we find joy in the morning.

We too can be the hand that reaches out to another who is in a pit.  Just like us with God, they too have to be willing to reach up and must have a desire for healing and rejoicing.  If not, we can still be the loving presence of God, quiet until they are ready to hear how much God loves them.  Then we can take hold of that hand reaching up and can help them to take His hand.  May we each be ever accepting of God’s love and ever sharing it as well.