When God's Word Stings
- Cindi McMenamin Author
- 2014 7 Jul
Editor's note: This is the second part of a 3-part series on "When God Sees Your Tears." Read part 1, When You Feel Like Blaming God, here.
Admit it, there are parts of the Bible that are difficult to digest. Certain words sting going down and sometimes cause us to question our faith.
I came across some of them as I was writing my newest book, When God Sees Your Tears.
In the Old Testament story of Hannah, I found staring at me, like a dagger, seven words about why Hannah could not conceive a child: because the Lord had closed her womb. In fact, those seven disturbing words are found twice in just two verses, so we don't miss the fact that God was the One who was withholding from Hannah what she wanted most (1 Samuel 1:4-5).
Poor Hannah. All she wanted was a child. She wanted to be a mom just like every woman around her. She didn't seem to be asking God for much. And to make matters worse, she was constantly mocked and ridiculed by her husband's other wife for her inability to conceive a child. But when we get to those seven disturbing words that explain, but don't really explain, why Hannah couldn't have a child, it's difficult to not blame God for her misery. And within those seven stinging words are four words that explain - or don't really explain - the troubles we experience today, too: because the Lord had....
I know those words too well, by now. Maybe you do, too:
...because the Lord had changed his heart.
...because the Lord had withheld another child.
...because the Lord had closed that door.
...because the Lord had taken her away.
...because the Lord had clearly said "no."
Maybe you've experienced those four - or seven - disturbing words in your life, too.
...because the Lord had not healed her?
...because the Lord had let him die?
...because the Lord had chosen someone else?
...because the Lord had closed your womb?
As disturbing as those words are — that imply God is in control over the things that we long for or hurt over the most — I have come to trust in the three words that often come in the middle of our story of struggle. In the middle of Hannah’s story, after she cried out to God in anguish and offered to give back to God what she wanted most, we read the glorious sentence "and the Lord remembered her" - followed by three words that give us hope and help us understand a little of what God might be doing in our lives, too, when we don't understand his timing.
Those three hopeful words are "in due time."
"It came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a son; and she named him Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked him of the LORD” (1 Samuel 1:20).
Part of that “course of time” (as the New International Version words it), involved Hannah’s preparation to be able to handle what it was she asked for, her trust in God’s timing and his ability to come through for her, and a growing intimacy with God. God also had a lot he was accomplishing in the world around Hannah before he allowed her to have a son who would grow up to be a significant prophet and priest who would anoint Israel's first two kings.
In other words, Hannah had a longing. But God was working on her legacy. Hannah was watching the clock. But God was watching a country. Hannah just wanted a baby. But God wanted so much more than for her to just have a child. He wanted a prophet and priest that would help change the heart of a nation. And so God took his time to prepare Hannah to be the kind of mom who could raise up this prophet and priest, at a time when Israel most needed him.
Sometimes what we want is small in the scope of God’s plans. But when we take our desires and set them before him and say “Ultimately, I want your will, God, not mine,” I believe that is the key to seeing him take our desires and turn them into something far more valuable than just making us happy. When our desires become HIS desires, and his desires become ours, there is nothing that will keep him from blessing our lives.
Do you have a problem with certain things God says in his Word? Read the entire context. Look at the whole story. God sees our stories, from beginning to end, and he knows exactly what he must give or withhold from us to make us more dependent on him. It is only when we're desperate for him, that we surrender to his will, and give up ours. And then we are in that moldable, transformable place where he can begin to conform us to the image of his Son.
What is God withholding from you so that you will be desperate enough to offer it back to him? He just may want to turn your longing into a legacy, your desire into someone else’s destiny, your surrender into someone else’s salvation.
Trust him with the story of your life and what he is waiting to accomplish “in due time.” And trust his Word...even when you don't understand it.
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and award-winning writer who helps women find strength for the soul. She is the best-selling author of When Women Walk Alone (more than 120,000 copies sold) and a dozen other books including When a Woman Overcomes Life's Hurts, and her newest release, When God Sees Your Tears, upon which this article is based. For more resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and relationships with God and others, see her website: www.strengthforthesoul.com.
Publication date: July 22, 2014