1 Samuel 2:1-11 (Part 2) – What Do You Win When You Try To Win the Breakup?

Posted: November 13, 2017 in 09-1 Samuel
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1 Samuel 2:1-11 (Part 2 of 3)
Hannah’s Prayer of Praise

In the world of divorces, there is this thing about “winning the divorce” or “winning the breakup.” What that means is whose life turns out better in the long run of the two people who were in the previous relationship. Luckily, my divorces occurred before the advent of the major social media forums such as Facebook and ones similar to it. Nowadays, when a relationship breaks up, we get to be vicarious observers of who “wins the breakup” in many relationships. Back in the 1990’s and early 2000’s when my divorces occurred, it was simply word of mouth about who won the breakups. So many people are hellbent on revenge in relationship breakups. That’s not winning the breakup. That’s just allowing yourself to be consumed. The best revenge in a breakup is living a happy life in the wake of something horrible that happened.

When I look back on my first two marriages, they ended in different ways. My first marriage was good for maybe the first 5 years of it but then my wife’s drug addiction, affair, and spending addiction after all that and just plain out meanness were contributing factors toward me committing the same sin of adultery with the woman who would become my second wife. Later, because of the conflict ever present in our marriage about my responsibility toward my children and me not being man enough to do what I needed to do for my kids out in the open, it lead her to have an affair which lead to my second divorce.

After my breakup with my first wife, she made it her mission in life to destroy me. Though she had an affair during our marriage, the fact that I had one consumed her. She wanted to win the divorce by destroying me. It was a divorce that could have been a made-for-TV movie. It was ugly. Harassment. Nasty and mean phone calls at all times of day or night. Daily voice mails from overnight when I got to work that were just pure hatred. She become consumed with consuming me. It was pretty intense from 1993-1996 in so many ways. It was not until she remarried in 1996 that she relented somewhat on her hatred. However, she never let go of it and it consumed her life even until the day she died in 2015. My second wife after our breakup was the party girl of all party girls. She was living the nightclub scene. She seemed to be winning the breakup in those early years. It was about two years ago that I heard from my youngest daughter that my second ex had gotten messed up with drugs and ended up losing her job at the bank she had worked for much of the time since our breakup, had lost her house to the bank, and was living with one of her sons.

As for me there were dark days after both of these breakups where I did not know whether I was emotionally going to make it through it. After the breakup of the first marriage, accusations of inappropriate conduct with one of my daughters that were unfounded but had to be investigated kept me from my children for over six months. And the sheer poverty of starting over again after that marriage was rough. There was a time I remember stopping by the local hot dog restaurant and buying four hot dogs with $7 of the last $10 I had in the bank so that I could have two hot dogs each night the next two nights for dinner. I remember after the second marriage breakup just being so down and blue that I hated weekends because I did not have work to distract me. It was rough for a long time just getting my head around being single again. It took a good while for me to get off my pity pot after the second breakup while she had hit the ground running even before the final breakup staying out all night and partying with her single friends.
But now looking back at it, yes, you could say I won both my divorces in the sense that my life is better than it ever has been. I am more settled, more financially stable, and have the best wife a man could ask for. I married well this third and final time. Elena has been a godsend to my life. She gives me stability, unconditional love, and a sense of home and sense of belonging that I have never felt in my life. I am living well.

But the thing that I know the most is that it is only by the grace of God, go I. He has ordered my steps and now when I look back at the past it is not a matter of saying I won the divorces. It is a matter that God pulled me through them. It is only by His hand that I made it through the dark times. I even pray that my first wife found a deeper relationship with Christ (if she was saved) or found Christ before she died and was able to let go of all the anger that she had inside her that destroyed her life to the point that she died at age 55. I pray that my second ex-wife will find Christ and that she will get her life together and not be consumed by the fact that her life did not turn out anywhere near what she dreamed it would be. I don’t want to have won something. There are no winners in broken relationships. There are no winners when you try to win the divorce. There are no winners when we become consumed with hatred to the point that we lose sight of God. There are no winners when we let anything get in the way of our relationship with God.

Reading Hannah’s prayer this morning shows us how Hannah was above “winning the relationship battle” with her co-wife, Peninnah. Sure, Peninnah deserved to be driven into the ground by Hannah, by our human standards of revenge. But that’s not the road that Hannah took as evidenced by her song of praise. Let’s read 1 Samuel 2:1-11 now:

2 Then Hannah prayed:

“My heart rejoices in the Lord!
The Lord has made me strong.[a]
Now I have an answer for my enemies;
I rejoice because you rescued me.
No one is holy like the Lord!
There is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.

“Stop acting so proud and haughty!
Don’t speak with such arrogance!
For the Lord is a God who knows what you have done;
he will judge your actions.
The bow of the mighty is now broken,
and those who stumbled are now strong.
Those who were well fed are now starving,
and those who were starving are now full.
The childless woman now has seven children,
and the woman with many children wastes away.
The Lord gives both death and life;
he brings some down to the grave[b] but raises others up.
The Lord makes some poor and others rich;
he brings some down and lifts others up.
He lifts the poor from the dust
and the needy from the garbage dump.
He sets them among princes,
placing them in seats of honor.
For all the earth is the Lord’s,
and he has set the world in order.

“He will protect his faithful ones,
but the wicked will disappear in darkness.
No one will succeed by strength alone.
Those who fight against the Lord will be shattered.
He thunders against them from heaven;
the Lord judges throughout the earth.
He gives power to his king;
he increases the strength[c] of his anointed one.”

11 Then Elkanah returned home to Ramah without Samuel. And the boy served the Lord by assisting Eli the priest.

In this passage, we see that there is no doubt, as Hannah said these words, she was thinking of Peninnah’s arrogance and chiding. Hannah could have gotten even with Hannah by reacting in some way about her finally giving birth to a child. Hannah did not though! She knew that God is all knowing and that He will judge all sin, pride, and arrogance. Hannah wisely left judgment up to God. We have to resist the temptation to take justice into our hands or to go after revenge. However, God will weigh our deeds as well as the deeds of those who have wronged you.

No stronger statement in this regard was ever made than at the arraignment hearing of Dillon Ruff in Charleston, SC after the Emmanuel AME Church shootings, where one by one the families of the slain victims told Dillon that they had forgiven him and it was done only through the power of Jesus Christ. They could have been bitter and wished him to the pits of hell on national television but they chose to demonstrate God’s love to the very man who had cold-bloodedly killed their loved ones. They won the relationship breaker that day. They could have continued the hatred that would have made Dillon feel validated in what He had done. But they chose to stop the cycle of hatred and show love and forgiveness through broken hearts toward the very man who had broken their hearts.

How much can we learn from these beautiful people of Charleston in our own relationships where revenge and winning the break up seems to be the order of the day. Jesus did not care that we have thumbed our nose at him, mocked him, shunned him, and said that He doesn’t exist. He stilled died for us anyway. He still loves us anyway. God could so easily just say it’s done. I am tired of these stiff-necked people hating me and disobeying me and acting as if anything else is better than me. He could take His revenge and no questions asked just send us all to hell. But He loved us so much that He has taken a higher road. He has offered us His Son as the way to be reconciled to Him.

So, next time, when you think about winning a relationship whether it’s a marriage, a relationship before marriage, a friendship gone wrong, a work relationship where you’ve been betrayed, or any relationship where you have been hurt in some way, what is the cost of winning? What is the cost of driving another person into the ground. Sometimes the best revenge is forgiveness. Sometimes the best revenge is letting God handle it. Sometimes the best revenge is just moving on with your life and not letting that other person live rent free in your head. Sometimes showing no response when a response is the norm is the best. Sometimes showing love where hate is the norm is the best response.

Through trusting in Jesus Christ to handle our hurts and angers we can live again. We can live well. We can rise above that which has hurt us. If we let our obsession with winning something we let pride win. We let hate win. We let something get in the way of our relationship with Him. Let Jesus handle your hurts. Lay them at the cross and walk away. I am not saying that we forget hurts but we do lay them at the cross and not let them become our god instead of God. Instead of our victory. Let God have the victory.

Amen and Amen.

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