Posts Tagged ‘hurt’

1 Samuel 2:1-11 (Part 3 of 3)
Hannah’s Prayer of Praise

In the deep dark days of our lives, we wonder if we are going to make it through it, whatever that may be. Each of our valleys are unique to us. We all have them. If you don’t have those deep, dark valleys in life, then, most likely you are not really living. We all encounter low points in our lives where we find it difficult to put one foot in front of the other. Sometimes, we have multiple bad things to happen to us in succession. Sometimes, we have multiple bad things going on at the same time. It is at these times that we wonder if we are going to make it. It is at these times that we may just want to stay in bed for days on end with the lights off the drapes drawn and the bedroom door closed. Those times where you just want to sleep so you don’t have to think about the dark hour of life that you find yourself in. There are days in life where the darkness, the trouble, the hurt, the loss that you can sometimes feel makes it difficult for you to even talk to people. There are those times where you feel less than everybody else because you have this loss, this hurt, this pain in your life that won’t go away. There are times where you feel like you have a horn sticking out of your head and everybody is looking at you as if you are freak or something. There are times in our lives where you are so painfully aware of your loneliness you feel like people can see inside you and see how worthless that you feel. It is like that dream where your dream starts and you are walking from the parking lot to the office and you don’t realize til you are walking to your desk that you are in your pajamas still and people are making fun of you. Or your dream starts and you are walking somewhere in public and all you have on is your underwear and everybody is gawking and pointing at you. That’s how you feel sometimes when you are going through a rough patch in your life.

Although I am living on the mountaintop or at least a mesa in my life right now where things are generally as good as they have ever been in my life, there were times in my life where I can identify with the above paragraph. It was not written fancifully. It was not written from imagination. It was written from real feelings that I have had in my life. There have been stretches in my life where I have had to literally force myself out of bed in the mornings and go to work. There were times in my life where I hated the end of the work day because I no longer had something to divert my emotional attention away from the dark, deep pain of loneliness and hurt. I have had times in my life where I would not leave my apartment from the time that I got home from work on Friday until it was time to go back to work on Monday and in between that Friday and Monday all I wanted to do was sleep but couldn’t. Or I would sleep all day and then could not sleep at night. Therefore, if you are going through a dark pit right now, please know that I can identify with what you are going through. These descriptions are real. I can still feel the pain of those times in my life right now as I write these words. I can taste, smell, see and sense the hardness of those times as I sit here and remember. Those memories are vivid and when I write about them. I can drift back and see and remember those times as if I was back in them. I know your pain of loneliness, of hurt, of pain, of worthlessness, of wondering what the point of it all is, of wandering why I was born, of wondering who the hell cares, of wondering when is this pain going to end, of wondering when I am going to again be like the normal people outside the doors of my apartment, of feeling like I had two heads anytime I walked out my door. You know those feelings right now. I knew them on more than one occasion in my life. I have often written about them here. I know your pain.

I know that it sounds trite and non-soothing at this moment where you are at your darkest hour but I will say it because it is true, “This too shall pass!” Thank God, God saw fit to see me through those dark times even when I thought he hated me or was out to get me or that He was punishing me somehow. Even in the darkest hours of my life, there was always that sliver of hope however tiny it was – that things would get better. That kept my eyes blinking. That kept my heart beating. That kept my feet going one in front of the other. That kept me moving even when I didn’t feel like moving. That sliver of hope however faint is the Holy Spirit telling us to hang in there. It is in these dark times, where that sliver of hope is the only thing that we have to hold on to is the very thing that pulls us through. It is the very thing that makes us appreciate that God is sovereign. It is the very thing that makes us realize just who God is. We may not realize it until we start emerging from the pit of darkness and pain that it was God that was there. It was God that was the sliver of hope. It was God that was actually helping you breathe in the worst moment of your life. It was Him. He loves you. He is keeping you alive right now. Keep breathing. Keep breathing. Keep breathing.

With that idea in mind let us 1 Samuel 2:1-11 now for the last time before we move on to the next passage:

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 it is easy for us sometimes to forget that God is in control. We may wonder if He is at all. For others, it is the darkest hour of their lives and and the darkest hour seems to be lasting forever. For some, and Hannah can identify with it, and I can identify with it, it is just hard to even breathe right now because the pain of life is so real that you can physically taste it. For some, whatever is going on in your life, you are just having trouble getting out of bed in the morning. You are wondering what the purpose of life is. You are wondering why you are so lonely, so depressed, so in pain, and so wanting to be with people but yet feeling alone and scared in a crowd. You are wondering if this dark night will ever end. I know. I have been there. I cry tears for you right now.

However, in this passage, Hannah reminds us that no matter how remote God may seem at times to the point that you cry from you innermost being, He is still there. Hold on to that small sliver of hope that your time of pain and loneliness and hurt will end. It will. I promise you. It was the same for Hannah. But she saw God as a solid rock, the One who knows what we do, sovereign over the affairs of all people, and the Supreme Judge who administers the Perfect and Final Justice. Remembering God’s sovereign control helps us remember that He is our sliver of hope in desperate times. Keep breathing. Keep stepping. Keep getting out of bed. He is there. He is the thing that is keeping you alive. He is keeping you alive for a purpose.

It is from our darkest times, that we learn to cling to hope and faith in the sovereignty of God. Hold on to it. Let it help you breath. He will bring you through the valley of darkness. I promise you. It may not look like what you wanted it to look like before the valley. But your survival of the dark times will be your testimony to the faithfulness of God. It will also make your truly, truly appreciate the mesas and the mountaintop periods of your life. Hang on. Hold on. Breathe. God is still there. He wants you to cling to His hand and draw close unto Him. He will bring you out of the pit and set up upon solid ground. That’s the sliver of hope. That’s what gets us through. God is there. He is with you. I promise. I know!

Amen and Amen.

Luke 9:52-56 — Divorces gone off the rails. It is the stuff of movies. An obsessed ex-spouse hell-bent on vengeance. I remember a true life story of this sort that was made into a movie. The Betty Broderick Story: A Woman Scorned. It is an anatomy of the descent into insanity of one obsessed woman. It was a divorce gone way wrong that ended in the murder her ex-spouse and his new wife as they lie sleeping in bed. It was an ugly, nasty story of a socialite woman whose husband left her for another woman and how she let her need for vengeance consume every aspect of her life until all she had left was hate and it destroyed her.

When you are going through a divorce as I have in my past, there are things that happen for which you want revenge. Something that was said about you or done to you that you think was unfair, it makes your blood boil. There are times when the hurt of the breakup makes you want to lash out. If your estranged spouse has sought affections elsewhere, the anger and hurt just make you want rain down fire from heaven, or slash tires, or vandalize. It hurts so deep and literally feels like someone has stabbed you in the core of your soul. You can’t eat. You can’t sleep. You feel like there is no way out of the emotional pit that you are in. You think that there is one cause of that feeling and if you could just hurt them as much as you are hurting, then you would feel better. My friend, I have been there. I never had the guts to destroy property or take physical revenge against someone (ultimately I have never thought an ex was worth going to jail over or losing my job over), but nonetheless the feelings that you are going through I know personally. Some of the lowest emotional points in my life have been during divorce and you just wish you could do something to make them feel bad because as it seems to you they are riding high and do not know pain like you do.

Jesus encounters these same feelings of wanting revenge from his disciples, James and John (nicknamed the Sons of Thunder). When the Samaritan village rejected them, they wanted Jesus to rain down fire from heaven upon the village. They wanted revenge.

First, we must remember the animosity that existed between the Samaritans and the Jews. When the northern kingdom was overrun by the Assyrians in 740 BC and the Assyrian government sent people in from Assyria to settle the newly conquered land. The result was a mixed race of Jews and Assyrians that came to be known as the Samaritans. The purebred Jews of the southern kingdom which remained independent until its conquest by the Babylonians in 587 BC hated these half-breeds because they felt they had betrayed their ancestors and their God. The southern Jews never assimilated into Babylonian society and remained pure. When the Persians conquered Babylon in 537 BC, they were allowed to return to Judah and rebuild their society. Thus, the animosity between Samaritans and Jews continued then and continued all the way through Jesus’ earthly life and until the Roman sacking of Jerusalem in 70AD, when everything that once was a Jewish nation was completely obliterated by Rome (which had grown tired of the constant political and revolutionary turmoil in Palestine).

Thus, James and John were part of that fabric of hatred and distrust between the northern intermarrying Jews and the southern pure Jews. The general feeling of southern Jews was that the Samaritans were Jews who had prostituted themselves just to fit in and had lost who they were. They had forgotten the marriage their people had with God. They had forgotten their covenantal relationship with God. So, they were understandably quick to want the quick and easy revenge on a hated people. Jesus, being God in the flesh, had no such prejudices. He was going to preach and teach in Samaria on His way to Jerusalem. He wanted to reach and reclaim the lost. James and John had a personal vendetta in mind. They had forgotten Jesus telling them to dust their feet off in towns that rejected them back in Luke 9:5. Judgment belongs to the Lord the Bible tells us. However, when others reject us, hurt us, scorn us, our immediate first emotional reaction is to seek revenge. We want our feelings assuaged. We want to inflict the same level of pain that we have been given. Even we may do as John and James here, go to God and ask Him to retaliate for us. However, we must not expect God to be our puppet on a string, our vending machine, and use His power to carry out our personal vendettas.

Surely, we have all seen divorces gone haywire. One spouse becomes so obsessed with destroying the other that they destroy their own lives in the process. I am sure that this dark obsession of one person for another played a role in the murder-suicide recently at the University of South Carolina in Columbia last week. Their negative, dark emotions consume them in this abyss of hate and obsession that they drive all of their friends away and through their obsessive actions end any possibilities of reconciliation. These people fall in love with the hate that they have for their spouse. It consumes and destroys them, alienates their children, and creates scorched earth all around. Are you asking God for revenge on another person? Are you trying to use God to plow down another person? Are you going to God in hate for another person? We are not seeking God in these moments. We are seeking what we want.

So, what is Jesus really telling us in this passage that we can use in our lives. He is telling us that we are to love God and love others. We are to let God be the judge of those who reject us and ridicule us. Does that mean that we should be doormats and let people run over us? Certainly not. I think that Jesus wants us to stand up for ourselves when we know that our behavior is scripturally sound and that of others is not. I do not think he expects us to simply accept the evil behavior of others and just keep quiet, just accept things. We must be able to express our feelings and have them respected.

However, I think Jesus is telling us that we should never become so obsessed with wrongs, rejections, scorns that they lead us to behaviors that will ensure no possibility of reconciliation. There was one of my favorite movies from back in the 90’s called The War starring Eljah Wood where the rivlary between two groups of kids over a tree house degenerates into an all-out war. In the end, the tree house burns to the ground and the kids are cut, bruised, tired and have won nothing. I think Jesus is saying that if we use vengeance as our motive, we will burn the tree house to the ground and have nothing to show for it. If we become so obsessed with the hurt that it becomes our idol, it will consume us and eat us alive and leave us with nothing. Let us not become so obsessed with vengeance that it becomes who we are. Let us give it over to God and ask Him how we should handle a situation not demand that He do what we want Him to do. Let Him guide our responses. Let Him handle it. He will. He will. He will.