At Gateway Church at our South Campus in Austin, we continued our series called “Unlikely Heroes.” Ted Beasley shared some of the following thoughts:
“Chapter 1: Right in Their Own Eyes.
Ever notice that when you haven’t heard from God in a while, you start doing what is right in your own eyes? It’s not that you don’t believe in God, in fact at one time, you were filled with faith. This is what happened to the people of Israel during the time of Hannah
Chapter 2: Sister Wives.
Have you ever spent much time around a woman of deep godly character, someone who truly exudes God’s grace? She’s utterly confident in her own skin, because she is convinced of her worth in God’s eyes. She doesn’t need your approval, but you love being around her because you feel safe and accepted and believed in and challenged. This is Hannah, and she is radiant, and her husband Elkanah knows it. But there’s a problem with Hannah. She can’t have babies. It’s the one thing she desires most, it’s her deepest dream – to hold and raise sons and daughters, to see them grow into godly young men and women. Yet, her womb is barren. And as much as she trusts God, this disappointment is too devastating for her to bear.
Her husband decides to take another wife. Now just a quick word about polygamy in the Bible. It appears everywhere in the Old Testament, and it never works out. It breeds mistrust and jealousy in the families discussed in the OT. Jesus once said people did this kind of thing because of “hard hearts.” People like Elkanah just did what was right in their own eyes. It was God’s intention from Genesis 1 for marriage to be between one man and one woman. Just because Scripture reports something, it doesn’t mean it approves it. (In the Bible, do you know what the punishment is for having two wives? Having two wives!)
Elkanah’s second wife easily got pregnant and had several children.
Here’s one of the secrets of Christianity that most people don’t talk about: Your faith will be tested at the point of your deepest desire. God cannot be in true relationship with you if your craving for that thing you want is stronger than your need for Him. And so for all of us who love God, he allows us to be tested, to go through some real struggles, around any desire that we’ve elevated to number one in our lives.
Chapter 3: Hard in Spirit.
There comes a time when you can’t solve your own problems, right? That moment when another human being’s advice or words of comfort aren’t doing the trick. Eventually you realize, ‘I’m never going to have my deepest need satisfied unless God does it.’ Hannah has nowhere to go but God. And so this woman Hannah becomes one of the greatest pray-ers in all of Scripture. She sobs. She pleads with God in faith. ‘Oh, Lord, give me a son. Do a miracle in my body. Just let me have a boy to hold and share my love with. And, God, if you do this thing, then I will entrust his future to your care. He will become a priest in your temple and will serve you all the days of his life.’
Hannah is praying in faith. She’s not bargaining. She asks for a son, but she asks for him not to benefit her, but to glorify God and bless the world.
Are you hard in spirit, or have stopped praying about your deepest desire? Jesus tells us in Luke 11 that one of the most important elements of prayer is persistence. Why? Because prayer isn’t mostly about getting what you want. It’s about you changing. It’s about you surrendering your deepest desires and needs to God, and allowing him to be what you trust in on your soul level. So Jesus says, pray with confidence. Ask. Seek. Knock. Be persistent because you can be sure that God will only respond out of love.
Chapter 4: On Loan.
Hannah believes that God will answer her prayer. She is surrendered. She wholeheartedly is certain that God loves her and will do what, in his infinite wisdom that is so much higher than hers, he knows to be right. Nine months later Hannah gives birth and names her firstborn child, Samuel which means: ‘God has heard.’ Later she takes her son to Eli as she promised.
What does it mean to give your deepest desire to God? What does it mean to turn your business or career over to him? What does it mean to offer him your marriage or your kids or your health? What does it look like to lay your artistic or musical or other talents upon his altar?
How do you know you’ve really surrendered yourself to his care, and he is the first priority in your life? First, you allow him to define success. You trust him for the results. Secondly, act as if his promises are true. You know you have offered God leadership over the greatest desires in your life when you find yourself obeying before he blesses you.
Chapter 5: The End (So That’s Why)
Hannah would go on to have five more children. What is best about this story is that the ending far surpassed any ending Hannah ever could have constructed for her life. Why? Because that’s the way God is when we trust him. Samuel became a powerful leader of the people. All because of a mother’s prayers. All because of a mother’s surrender. And Hannah, as she grew older, was able to watch in wonder and nod her head, and say in hindsight, ‘So that’s why. So that’s why God allowed me to be barren. That’s why I went through such heartache. So that’s why I had to be persistent. Because he had in mind all of this all along. And it’s better than any dreams I had for myself.’
Some of you are in the throes of deep disappointment with God. Some of you have given up on him meeting the deepest needs in your life. If you will trust and obey. If you will just hold on and cling to him in faith. Some day you will stand on the other side of the chasm and look back, and it will all make sense. So that’s why. So that’s why I went through all of that. He is the Almighty, Gracious, So-That’s-Why God.”
To watch or listen to this message, go to www.gatewaychurch.com/podcast.