Sometimes I go through seasons where I can only read one or two specific passages in Scripture. In a particularly trying season for our family I clung to Psalm 77. It became an anchoring point for me and kept me from floating into darkness. When I moved back to Colorado it was Hosea 2. Right now? Oddly enough 1st Samuel 1 – the birth of Samuel.
This may seem weird but the beginning of that passage both haunts and comforts me. If you aren’t familiar with it, Hannah is a woman who was barren. She had been unable to bear children and it broke her heart. To make matters worse her sister wife (yeah, I know…) could have children and we’re told she kept provoking Hannah in order to irritate her. This kept up until the point that Hannah would weep and stop eating. The passage said this happened year after year.
Later on Hannah is pouring out her heart to the Lord in front of the temple. She’s so distraught the priest thinks she is drunk. He scolds her, she explains, he offers a blessing and tells her to go on her way.
As we continue on we’re told the Lord remembered her and she conceived a child.
Okay so why is this striking a cord with me? No, I have nothing to announce about babies or sister wives but there has been one great theme that has carried over the last few months and also a lesser theme.
Let’s get the lesser one out of the way first – Hannah’s rival provoking her year after year. Can I just tell you that sometimes my rival / sister wife feels like social media? The facebook posts, the instagram pictures, the family life blogs. It provokes anger and bitterness in me. Constantly. I could keep a minute by minute account on all of the people in my life that have all of these things. I’ve told you how I struggle with this before so it should come as no surprise.
The other day I felt bloated by social media. I run the FB account for our company so my browser is usually open with a scrolling account of everything. So I decided to delete the app off my phone, switch over to my business account that only allows me access to the page, and delete Instagram. I was just over it. I wanted to silence the provocation. End the taunting. Eliminate the things prodding my worn out heart and anguished spirit.
And you know what? It has helped tremendously. The silence is loud but not uncomfortable. It’s like finally getting a break from incessant chatter and taking a deep breath to allow your ears to adjust. Sure I may be missing out on some events or hang outs or updates but the relief I feel for right now is worth it.
Okay – so now to the beauty of this passage.
Two phrases caught my eye when I was reading it a few months ago. Phrases that literally brought me to tears and whispered into my tired heart.
In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly.
“…I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”
My goodness. Do you see those words? Deep anguish. Weeping bitterly. Praying in grief. What I love so much about this is Hannah directing these emotions to the Lord. My guess is that her anguish, bitterness, and grief wasn’t pretty or pulled together. She probably had some choice words and angry tones. These things were specifically put into her story to be given to us. Showing that our disappointment and frustration is not only not wrong but it is welcomed before our Father. Because you know what He does after all this?
He remembers her.
He gave her precisely what her heart had been longing, hoping, and praying for. He wasn’t angry or distant. He didn’t admonish her for her lack of respect. He didn’t turn away from her ugliness. He remembered her.
So in the times where I’m just so angry, where life feels cruel with Papa the merciless puppet master, and with tears streaming down my face I shout up at the sky “Do you think this is funny? Are you enjoying this? Does my sorrow bring you amusement?” I allow myself the briefest moments of anger. But as the intensity of the emotion fades I feel the slow spread of safety knowing my deep anguish does not go unseen by my Papa. He knows and He feels and it matters and He grieves with me.
There’s so much hope in that no?