Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Barren Places

"Oh Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery
and remember me, and not forget your servant."
―1 Samuel 1:11, NIV
Hannah was barren and near the point of despair. Her deepest hurt, however, did not come from her inability to conceive a child or the fact that she was one of two wives. It was not a result of being humiliated to the point of despondency or of being misunderstood. Hannah's intense pain sprang from her belief that she was forgottenforgotten by God himself.

All of us experience times of barrenness: periods when no fruit can be seen from our toil, junctures where our lives lack direction, times when our prayers appear to go unanswered. Seasons of barrenness often give way to intervals of losing sight of God or wondering if God has lost sight of us. According to Scripture, God's eyes roam throughout the earth seeking someone whose heart is fully committed to him, yet we wonder if we are even on his radar. We expect to be betrayed by man, but God? The thought is nothing less than gut-wrenching.

Abram's wife, Sarai, is a clear-cut example of one who in her barrenness lost sight of God and his promise. Unable to make sense of her situation and God's apparent lack of concern, Sarai relied upon her maidservant to build a family for herself. Her decision produced a son, but it also birthed the unwanted companions of guilt and regret. The repercussions of her faithless decision resulted in immense pain not only for herself, but for her family and generations thereafter.

Guilt and regret are no strangers to me. I have invited them along as companions numerous times as I have tried to build a future for myself by running ahead of God and his perfect timing. Time and again, I succumb to doubt even though I have realized countless promises of God in my life. By taking matters into my own hands, I try to remedy the profuse bleeding of my heart. My decisions are driven by a fear that God has forgotten methat my desires will be left unfulfilledbut the truth I see in Scripture contradicts my fears. Will my actions ever consistently reflect the fact that God is ever faithful to his Word and that he always makes a way in the desert?

We should be encouraged by the story of Hannah. Even though God was silent, Hannah never stopped praying and trusting his faithfulness. As a result, "The Lord remembered her."

Are you looking to someone or something other than God to build a future for yourself? Cease striving to produce your own fruit. Instead, like Hannah, continually offer up the fruit of your lips and expect your loving Father to perfect all that concerns you. He will remember you. 

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