The Strength of God

Today’s Reading: 1 Samuel 1:27 – 2:21

THE LORD HAS MADE ME STRONG.

“I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request. Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life.” And they worshiped the Lord there.

Then Hannah prayed: “My heart rejoices in the Lord!
The Lord has made me strong, Now I have an answer for my enemies,
I rejoice because you rescued me. No one is holy like the Lord!
There is no one besides you; There is no Rock like our God.”
– 1 Samuel 1:27-2:2

Hannah prayed for a larger sacrifice and God answered her prayer. After giving her son to the Lord, Hannah was filled with joy as she worshipped God – a much different emotion for Hannah then the bitter anguish she was experiencing before God answered her prayer. After making what had to have been a difficult sacrifice for a mother, God faithfully gave her joy in place of her sacrifice. Her faith was strengthened and she knew the Lord, the Rock, was the source of her strength.

THE LORD GIVES US STRENGTH FOR WHATEVER SACRIFICE HE IS ASKING US TO MAKE.

…Samuel, though he was only a boy, served the Lord. He wore a linen garment like that of a priest. Each year his mother made a small coat for him and brought it to him when she came with her husband for the sacrifice. – 1 Sam. 2:18-19

In 2011, my dear friend, Dave Brown, gave me this passage of Scripture as we were grieving the loss of one ministry and preparing for the next. He pointed out that the coat Hannah brought Samuel each year must have been too big for him in order for him to be able to grow into it by the end of the year. As soon as the coat fit, she’d give him a new one.

Sometimes God gives us a new coat, a bigger coat. The price of our faithfulness in what God has given us is that sometimes He takes that away and gives us something new that requires that same faithfulness. He moves us out of our comfortable, broken-in coat into a new “bigger coat.”

In 2012, our family again experienced the mixed emotions of having a comfortable coat removed as God placed on our shoulders a new coat – a coat that has taken some time to get used to and that still requires some “growing into.” Perhaps God is trying to place a new coat on you as well, one you are resistant or uncomfortable in. Like Hannah, we can rejoice with confidence that we serve a holy God who is strong like a Rock and gives us strength for whatever sacrifice He is asking us to make.

Before they returned home, Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, “May the Lord give you other children to take the place of this one she gave to the Lord.” And the Lord gave Hannah three sons and three daughters. Meanwhile, Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord. – 1 Samuel 2:20-21

THE LORD CAN DRASTICALLY CHANGE YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES.

Hannah’s circumstances were radically reversed as God blessed her generously. She sang of how her Creator is able to drastically change someone’s circumstances:

“…The bow of the mighty is now broken, and those who stumbled are now strong.
Those who were well fed are now starving, and those who were starving are now full.
The childless woman now has seven children, and the woman with many children wastes away.
The Lord gives both death and life; he brings some down to the grave but raises others up.
The Lord makes some poor and others rich; he brings some down and lifts others up.
He lifts the poor from the dust and the needy from the garbage dump.
He sets them among princes, placing them in seats of honor.
For all the earth is the Lord’s, and he has set the world in order…”
– 1 Samuel 2:4-8

Hannah sang of God’s protection on his faithful ones and that NO ONE SUCCEEDS BY THEIR OWN STRENGTH ALONE. God empowers his king and increases the strength of his anointed one (2:9-10). What a great reminder this morning as I drink my morning coffee. While God saw the heart of Hannah, Hannah saw the strength of God.

There are times when we may not feel strong enough for the new coat God has placed on our shoulders, but perhaps it is in these weakest moments that we begin looking up and reaching out. God’s hands of mercy cover us and HE IS STRENGTH ENOUGH for both of us. We don’t have to be “strong enough” – we need to give up and let God be strong enough.

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:13

I love the chorus of the song “Strong Enough” by Matthew West: I know I’m not strong enough to be everything that / I’m supposed to be. I give up, I’m not strong enough. / Hands of mercy won’t you cover me. / Lord, right now I’m asking you to be strong enough, strong enough, for both of us.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-11

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