Begging God--Part 1 of 2

9:40 AMHeather

I was reading the blog of a college friend yesterday who posed this it okay to BEG God for answered prayers?  Hers is a heart in anguish as she watches her otherwise healthy son suddenly battle cancer.  Today, I submit to you that begging to God in fervent, heart wrenching prayer is not only okay, but we see Biblical examples of it.  If you are in a season of so desperately wanting something to happen in your life that you feel you are begging God, then I pray you'll be encouraged here today.

Yesterday, I talked about Ruth, and today, I dive in to look at Hannah.  I have read and re-read the story of Hannah, and the passage I'll camp on tomorrow holds special significance for me personally.   You see, I began my married life working as an adoptive parent caseworker.  Everyday, I counseled and talked with couples dealing with infertility.  It cast an emotional cloud on my desire to be a mom.  The norm in my career was that this would not come easily.  We were delighted when we became pregnant rather quickly after deciding it was time.  And, then 8 weeks in, I endured a painful miscarriage, not in the least bit assisted by a callous doctor who refused to even to answer my calls.  I was at first buoyed at least by the fact that I'd gotten pregnant easily and quickly.

But, then months and months and months passed.  And, the dread grew in the  pit of the stomach that God had allowed me to work in adoption because I was infertile.  I was okay with adopting--but the emotional roller coaster process of it all overwhelmed me.  One morning, I sat in church waiting for the sermon, and fell into 1 Samuel 1.  There, I read the all too familiar story of Hannah.  But, as if a heavenly glow surrounded the verse--something stood out to me as never before, and it became my lifeline.  More on that tomorrow, in part two of this blog post.  So keep that tucked in the back of your heads.

In 1 Samuel 1, we see that Hannah is desperate.  She is tormented by her inability to bear children--quite the reason for her existence as a married woman in her culture.  Her emotional trauma was compounded by her husband's other wife--ever vindictive, it would seem, taunting Hannah regularly about her own ability to have kids and Hannah's failures to do so.  So, Hannah does as most of us would.  

She begs God.  She goes to the temple, and weeps and prays and begs and pleads.  Her anguish is obvious--in fact, Eli the priest thinks she has been drinking because she is so demonstrative in her angst.  Once she assures Eli that she is begging God for her needs, he says may God grant you what you asked of him.  And, here is Hannah's response: 

18 She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” 
Then she went her way and ate something, 
and her face was no longer downcast. 

When I read this, I have several questions.  You see, Hannah was begging God for a child, and bargaining that if He would grant her request, she'd give that child back to him to serve in the temple.  So, when Eli responds to her, she says, "May I find favor in YOUR eyes."  This made me wonder--why was she saying may I find favor in YOUR eyes, rather in God's eyes?  I don't know the answer.  But, I think it's interesting to speculate and here is what I wrote in my journal:
--Is she responding to Eli's kindness?
--Does she have full confidence in God now--or had she poured herself out so completely to God that she had no more words for Him, but did have a response to Eli?
--Is she responding to the hope that Elie spoke to her?  Is she responding to the encouragement she got from him?
--Is this her way of soliciting Eli's prayer cover for her?
--Was she building rapport with the man she had just promised her son to?  Was she already connecting the dots that her son would be raised by this priest--as she had promised her son's service in the temple?

Glimpse of grace:  The above questions are all pure speculation.  I tried to picture myself as Hannah--in that situation where I am begging and pleading God as if for my very life.  We don't really know for sure why Hannah responded as she did--or at least I don't, in my little brain.  But, one thing we know for sure.  The second part of verse 18 says that she broke her fast and went away and ate something and her "face was no longer downcast."  Hmmm.  So, here we see this weeping, begging, sorrowful, grieving, desperate, tormented woman suddenly had a face that was no longer downcast.  In whatever you are facing--is that what you'd like for this day?  For your face to no longer be downcast?   May I share with you now just some of my considerations on how this came to be for our heroine Hannah?  I pray you'll be encouraged.

*Hannah was transformed by the HOPE she felt--not by the fruition of answered prayers.  Nothing in her circumstances had changed. 

*Hannah was transformed by her honest, soul wrenching outpouring to the Lord, to the connection she felt with Him, as she laid it all out on the table.

*Hannah was transformed by the mere fact that she had been heard.  She was buoyed by the hope of Eli's response that she had been heard.  She needed that darkest and deepest part of her soul's anguish to be heard!  She was not alone in her suffering, having shared it with the Lord and been acknowledged by Eli.

*Hannah was transformed because as she begged of God, she'd trusted it all to Him.  She'd surrendered her deep emotions to her faithful God.  And, the release of her burden to the God she served through honest and deep petition removed the angst in her spirit.

Bloggy friend, I think Hannah shows us that it's just fine to beg God.  It's what He longs for--our honest, open, deepest connection through our angst, anguish and desperation.  He longs for us to pour it all out to Him, so that he might share in our suffering, so that we acknowledge it all to Him, and in so doing, we begin to surrender it to Him as we trust Him with it all.  He wants us to hold nothing back from Him.  He wants it all--every last bit of our honest emotions.  Go ahead.  Weep, pray, beg, mourn, grieve.  As you lay it all on the altar of your Faithful and Sufficient Father, may you go away and be sustained, and may your face no longer be downcast.

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