Sunday, 6 January 2013

Women of the Bible: Hannah - A contented complaint


Hannah was a woman troubled in spirit. She was one of the two wives of Elkanah who was an Ephramite. Yearly Hannah visited Shilor with her husband to offer sacrifices, for there the tabernacle was located. With each visit Hannah laid on the alter her troubled soul which arose because she had no children. She wept bitterly dropping on the sacred floor the tears of shame, and so zealous was her weeping and prayer that Eli the priest thought that she was drunk. But Hannah was no drunkard, she was a woman moved with womanly affections to have an open womb which the Lord had closed. She prayed and then at the end of her prayer departed with a contented Spirit. Eli had spoken to her to go in peace for the God of Israel will grant her her petition that she has made to Him. Hannah departed, no longer with a sad heart, and took food to eat displaying her now contented soul.

 
 
My friends who have much sorrow in their hearts, who at this moment are depressed, who at this moment are grieving, who are weighed down with a great heaviness, are you praying contented prayers? Are your complaints holy complaints or are your complaints full of discontentment? 

 

You might say, what is the difference between a holy complaint and a discontented complaint? The difference is this. In a Holy complaint we complain to God and in a discontented complain we complain of God. In the garden of betrayal or that which we know as the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed a contented prayer or we might say a contented complaint by which we mean that Jesus was longing to see if there may be an alleviation of his present and soon to come sufferings. Jesus laid his soul to His Father in heaven and at the end of a three hour ordeal where he wept blood and tears, He finally rose and said, Father thy will be done. This is a contented complaint. A discontented complain would have been Jesus's unwillingness to accept heaven's decision displayed by his willingness to linger with bitter tears even after such a clear decision was revealed to him. There was no other way except the way of the cross. And for you there might be no other way except the way of suffering. Rachel did well to weep for her Children as did Hannah did well to complain about her barrenness, but the fault with Rachel was that she refused to be comforted, there was discontentment, and with Hannah there was contentment.  

 

Then you might say, are we to stop praying for our troubles but only pray once and then weep no more. No my troubled saint. In these two situations, that of Hannah and Jesus there was an immediate divine answer given to their complaints. Jesus received in his soul heaven's confirmation that there was no other way and Hannah received from Eli the word of a God elected priest. But we are to do this, namely, that after we have poured open all of the injuries of our hearts towards God, we are to depart from such wrestling with a submission to God's holy sovereign order of the universe, saying with a contented heart that thy will be done. We are not to leave our place of wrestling without at last saying that God, my Father to you I commit my cause, therefore, I will walk in the satisfaction that you alone are to my soul. To leave your place of complaint without this contented disposition is to really display your lack of trust in God and that Jesus Christ alone is not sufficient for you. If Jesus Christ is enough as you no doubt believe, then do you think that the answering of this petition will add one inch of joy to your soul outside of what he has done for you? Or if unanswered will you linger in bitterness? There is a lesson for us all to learn from that apostle who said that whatever circumstance he is in He has learnt to be content, (Philippians 4:11). This does not stop the apostle from weeping or praying, but rather, all of his complaints are cemented on his unwavering satisfaction on all that Christ is for him.

 

This contented disposition should cause you to rise early in the morning like Hannah and worship the Lord. And if your injuries are not to be solved in the passing flow of this age, then like Habakkuk you should pray this contented prayer: Habakkuk 3:17-18

 

 "Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
    and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
     yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation."

 

Pray it now poor soul in great distress and entrust yourself entirely to him who Judges justly.
 
K.Oni

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