Welcome to the third edition of Question of the Week...please answer in the comments OR write a blog post of your own and leave me a link to your answers! Feel free to borrow the graphic as well. This feature isn't about answering it on Tuesday so much as answering it. So whenever you've got some time...it'll be here waiting for you!
Which Bible character do you identify with most? Is there one that you can really relate to and understand? What is it about the story or character that gets to you?
There are two stories that really stand out to me. I love the story of Hannah. Found in 1 Samuel 1. She is a barren woman that cried out to the Lord.
The Birth of SamuelThere are several things about it that strikes me: her great misery, her great hope in the Lord, and her faith. Her face was no longer downcast. That says a lot. How often do we pray to the Lord for one thing or another--usually with great worry and anxiety--and then instead of leaving it in God's hands, we pick it back up and take it out with us. True, Hannah had Eli's words to comfort and console her. But I'd dare say that having Jesus' words should make us feel even more certain than Hannah.
There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none. Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the LORD Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the LORD. Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the LORD had closed her womb. And because the LORD had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the LORD, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. Elkanah her husband would say to her, "Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don't you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don't I mean more to you than ten sons?" Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the LORD's temple. In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD. And she made a vow, saying, "O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head." As she kept on praying to the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, "How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine." "Not so, my lord," Hannah replied, "I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief." Eli answered, "Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him." 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. Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the LORD and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah lay with Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, "Because I asked the LORD for him."
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:1-3
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. Romans 8:26-27
Hannah had the peace that comes from faith. She walked out a changed woman. I want to be like Hannah.
I also love the story of the bleeding woman who was healed by Jesus. Her story can be found in Mark 5.
A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?" "You see the people crowding against you," his disciples answered, "and yet you can ask, 'Who touched me?' " But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."
There are many ways that we can suffer, that we can live in suffering. It might be physical like this woman--or it might be mental, emotional, or psychological. It wasn't like this woman hadn't tried anything and everything to relieve the torment--the pain, the suffering, and the worry and anxiety that goes along with it. But Jesus was the answer. She knew it. She felt it. It wasn't if I touch his clothes, I might be healed. It was I will be healed. I don't know about you, but I wish I had faith that strong and sure. And I love these words: Go in peace and be freed from your suffering. Those words are an incredible promise, a gift. Jesus didn't need to ask this question to the crowds, he knew who had touched him. He knew why she had touched him. He did this so she could be given that promise, that she could hold onto those words and know his love, also I think he did as an example to all of us to believe and to reach out to Him who heals.
Think about this. God knows the whole truth. But how much better it is for us to tell him the whole truth. To approach him even with fear and trembling. To pour out ourselves, to give ourselves, it is with this that we're able to find peace and comfort.