Our God Remembers
I taught Our God Remembers at the Cornerstone Church on Sunday, May 13, 2018.
OUR GOD REMEMBERS
Part 1 of CHAPTER ONE. 1 Samuel 1:1-20
Peter Foxwell. The Cornerstone Church. May 13, 2018.
INTRODUCTION: LONGING AND LOSS
All of life is a dance between longing and loss. Like train tracks in parallel. A longing is something we feel deep inside. It can even be physical - visceral. When I came to the States for graduate school, my longings for home were like that. I missed my family, my city, my friends. I felt the loss of it all. Nowadays, I don't like being away from home overnight because I miss Kim. I feel the loss.
Longing and loss have been part of life since Adam and Eve disconnected themselves from God. It's not going to change until Jesus returns to bring everything back into order. We long for acceptance and we feel loss when we're rejected. We long for success and we feel loss when things don't work out. We long for safety and we feel loss when someone hurts us.
These unmet expectations are bad for our health physically, emotionally, relationally, spiritually. Unmet expectations rob us of joy and sap our energy. They can even turn us away from God.
Today, I'm going to teach you a healthy way to cope with longing and loss. First Samuel chapter one is our textbook today.
A. I MUST RECOGNIZE THE LONGINGS IN MY LIFE
Peninnah longed for love. Her husband didn't show her affection. Perhaps she married him for love, but he married her for children. Imagine the ache in her heart.
Hannah longed for children. Not even her husband's love could heal her deep maternal drive. She was an emotional wreck: miserable, depressed, weeping. Imagine her pain: "I want a baby. Why can't I get pregnant? What's happening?"
Elkanah just wanted peace. He longed for his wife to be normal, for everything to be OK. He didn't understand Hannah's emotions and her crushing feeling of loss: "Why are you weeping? Why don't you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don't I mean more to you than ten sons?" - verse 8. True: people cannot understand.
Our longings come from the heart. Proverbs 4:23: "Guard your heart (drives, longings, desires) above all else, for it determines the course of your life." (NLT) Here's how to guard your heart, ask three questions:
Ask: Are my drives good, godly, healthy, helpful? Hold on to these.
Ask: Is this desire good, but keeping me from the best? For example: "I long to be successful at work, but it will take a toll on my marriage." You might need to drop these kinds of longings that are good but may take the place of the best.
Ask: Are my longings taking God's place in my life? Have my desires for good things - love, or babies, or peace at home - become obsessions or idols that control my life. Make some changes here. Drop them like they're hot. Or get them back into proper proportion.
Unmet expectations, desires that are not fulfilled, delays, detours, dropping unhelpful longings all lead to feelings of loss, pain, grief. BUT, if we recognize that we have these longings, we can begin to deal with the feelings of loss in ways that are spiritually, emotionally, relationally healthy.
Let me show you how to do that ...
B. I MUST RESOLVE THE LOSSES IN MY LIFE
There's a right way and a wrong way to resolve our feelings of loss.
PENINNAH IS THE MODEL OF WHAT NOT TO DO.
Remember, she longed for her husband's love and affection. How did she resolve the feeling of loss when her expectations were unmet? She got angry and took her frustration out on Hannah. She "provoked" her, and picked on her, and teased her: "HAH, no kids, no kids, neener, neener, neener."
Did that solve her problem? Probably not. I'm pretty sure Elkanah did not say to himself, "Wow! Peninnah's so attractive when she's mad. All that hate is a real turn on." We all do crazy stuff to get what we want. When kids do it, we call it acting out. We're supposed to grow out of it because it just doesn't work, ever.
There has to be a better way ...
HANNAH IS THE MODEL OF WHAT TO DO.
She grieved for the children she did not have. How did she resolve her feelings of loss? She expressed her emotions to God in prayer. Listen to this:
1 Samuel 1:10-12 "In her deep anguish (always used in OT after loss) Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly (sobbing). 11 And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty (ruler of the armies of heaven and earth = supreme power), if you will only look on your servant's misery (affliction, suffering, grief) and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” 12 As she kept on praying to the Lord ..."
Take your hurts to the healer. Tell him honestly how you feel. Write them in a journal. If things aren't OK, don't pretend to God that everything's fine. The Bible says he hears our tears (Psalm 6:8). Be direct:
Psalms 77:7-9 "Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?"
If you turn things over to God, you won't turn on your family and friends. You'll sleep better. You'll think clearer. Your relationships will improve. You'll feel better. I once heard Rick Warren say, "The key to healing is revealing." Tell God how you feel: your hurt, pain, anger, sadness, emptiness, whatever." Don't stuff your emotions; if you do, they'll explode in a very messy way.
Warren has written, "This may surprise you, but God can handle your anger and frustration. He can handle your emotions ... When your 2-year-old has a temper tantrum and beats on your knees, you can handle that. In the same way, God is bigger than your emotion, and it’s okay to tell him exactly how you feel. When you prayed for a promotion but it didn’t happen, when a loved one walks out of your life, when you get the dreaded call saying, “It’s cancer,” you can tell God, “I’m mad. I’m upset. I’m sick. I’m frustrated. I’m ticked off. I doubt.” God can handle your complaints, your questions, your fear, and your grief. God’s love for you is bigger than all of your emotions." http://pastorrick.com/devotional/english/don-t-stuff-your-pain-tell-god-about-it1
When you hurt, let the Lord know. He can handle it.
Lamentations 2:19b "Pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord."
CONCLUSION: GOD'S PROMISE IN LONGINGS AND LOSS
The Bible says, God "remembered" Hannah - verse 19 and he worked things out so she got pregnant and had a son, Samuel, a name which means "God hears." This doesn't mean God forgot her. Whenever the Bible says God "remembered" his people, it's a way of telling us that God was getting ready to move, to do something great and very significant (SEE APPENDIX B). He heard her cries for help and he answered.
Are you wondering why this story is in the Bible? It's because Hannah's prayers were a used by God to make a way for our Savior, Jesus Christ to come into the world. God did something strategic when he gave Hannah a baby boy. He wasn't only showing compassion to a grieving woman, he was also working out his big plan of salvation.
You see, Samuel grew up to be a prophet. And God told him to anoint a shepherd boy as King of Israel (1 Samuel 16:1-13). That boy's name was David. A thousand years later, a priest in Israel prophesied this about the birth of Jesus:
Luke 1:69-70 (NLT) "He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David, 70 just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago."
Hannah was a link in a series of cosmic events: IF Hannah had not cried out to God, there would have been no Samuel. No Samuel, no royal line of David. No royal line of David, no Jesus. No Jesus, no mighty Savior. No mighty Savior ...
You never know how God will use your prayers to advance his purposes in the world. But you can be sure of this: when you cry to him in your hurt, he remembers you, he hears you and he will answer you according to his plan and in his own time.
He can turn even our deepest pain into something beautiful and good:
Romans 8:28 "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
GOD HEARS US WHEN WE PRAY - FOR SURE!
God always "remembers" you. He hears and answers when you cry out about your longings and losses. If you belong to Jesus, you have four assurances that God hears your prayers:
1. The experience of other believers: Psalm 18:6 "In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears."
2. The Holy Spirit is always praying for you: Romans 8:26 The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
3. Jesus is always praying for you. Hebrews 7:25b "He always lives to intercede for us."
4. Jesus has given you access to God to ask for help. At the cross, Jesus opened the door to heaven for you. Hebrews 4:16 "Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (See Hebrews 10:19-22)
God remembers you. He will hear and he will answer. That's his promise. Take your deepest desires, your hurts, your unmet expectations, your feelings of loss to God in prayer.
No, you won't always get what you ask for. You'll get what God thinks is best, in his perfect timing. But, be sure of this when the answer is slow in coming: God always remembers you. When God's people thought he'd forgotten them, he responded gently:
Isaiah 49:15-16 (NLT) “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! 16 See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands."
What Does the Bible Mean When It Says
that God Remembered Something?