Welcome to week number four of the Uninvited online Bible study featuring best-selling author Lysa TerKeurst! No one likes to be kept waiting, especially in today's "have it now" culture. What happens when you are stuck between the "asking" and the "answer" in some area of your spiritual walk or prayer life? Do you get discouraged? Do you lose heart? Do you take it as God not caring about you, or not being interested in you? This week's session will give you some encouraging biblical perspective on dealing with these feelings, and remind you of the truth of God's care, love and provision for you--even as you wait.
In this week's session, Lysa walks us through the story of Hannah from 1 Samuel, chapters 1 and 2. In this, you'll see the despair and discouragement that Hannah experienced (perhaps you can identify all too well). You'll also see how God moved when Hannah prayed, and orchestrated an answer to her prayers far more powerful than she could have ever imagined. It reminds us of the promise of Ephesians 3:20 where Paul writes, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine..."
Our Week 4 video teaching segment, Set Apart is waiting for your viewing now!
In Hannah's story, we see first a woman who loved God, but had become severely distressed and was battling feelings of rejection. She had another woman in her realm of relationships (Pininnah) that constantly put her down, taunted her with her many children and Hannah's own barreness; and drove her to the point of "bitterness of soul" (1 Samuel 1:10).
You may have people like this in your world as well...people that hold up the very thing that has you discouraged as their success; and seem to delight in reminding you of it at every turn. This can be incredibly demoralizing and destructive to you, your self-image, and even your faith. Hannah took the right response, she went into the sanctuary and prayed...she prayed a personal, intimate prayer (without even audibly speaking)...and God responded!
As Lysa mentions, Hannah's prayer became a model for how Jewish people pray to this very day and her beautiful prayer of thanksgiving even greatly influenced Mary, the mother of Jesus generations later (compare 1 Samuel 2:1-11 with Luke 1:46-55).
But perhaps the greatest lesson of this woman's story is what God did in answering her prayers. While the answer was not immediate (and probably not as soon as Hannah desired); her child became a central figure in Old Testament history. He impacted the life of King David in major ways, and was used to usher Israel from the rule of judges to kings in his day.
This leads Lysa to the powerfully encouraging and profound conclusion that Hannah was not "set aside", indeed she was "set apart" by God for a very special purpose and plan. Take inspiration from this for yourself as well, particularly if you find yourself heavy of heart or "in the waiting" currently. Jeremiah 29:11 assures us that God has a plan and purpose for us, and that His plan is "for your welfare, and not for your calamity, to give you both a future and a hope".
In the meantime, let us encourage you to do as Hannah did if you find yourself between the asking and the answer...in God's waiting room. Pray to your Heavenly Father; share your heart with Him, and then trust in His good plan for you.The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:17-18 (NIV)
Take time now to view this week's teaching video with Lysa, shot on location at Shiloh (the very place where Hannah prayed her prayer!). As you view it, allow the Lord to remind you that He is there, and He is not silent or uncaring. He is working on your behalf in ways that you cannot see. As one old song lyric says, "When you can't see His hand, trust His heart".
As you conclude your study this week, it is especially important to spend time in prayer as well. Remember that it was as a result of her prayers that God first spoke words of encouragement to Hannah through the priest Eli; and then answered her request of a son. As Proverbs 16:3 reminds us, when we commit our ways to the Lord...he will establish our plans!
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