Even When it Hurts

Throughout the course of LT, we’ve been jumping through 1st and 2nd Samuel, and let me just say, it’s been really Good.

In order to get more context, I started to read both books during my quiet time, and that’s where God hit me with some deep Truth.

1st Samuel begins with the background of how Samuel became Samuel. The book starts out by telling the story of this dude named Elkanah who had two wives; Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah was able to have children, but Hannah wasn’t, and naturally, Hannah was really upset about this, so she started praying and asking God if He would bless her with a child. Hannah even promised God that if she would have a son, she would give him to the Lord.

So God did it; He gave her a son, and she named him Samuel, which sounds like the Hebrew for heard by God. 

Aside from that, we also meet Eli, who is the priest that ministers to Samuel as he grows up. Here’s the thing with Eli: he has these sons who treated sacrifices to the Lord with contempt, and if you didn’t know— that’s a big no-no, and it upset God A LOT. Eli heard about these things and confronted his sons, but they ignored him and continued doing what they wanted. That’s when a man of God approaches Eli and asks him why he honored his sons more than he honored God. Because Eli dishonored God by honoring his sons, God dishonored Eli by making it so that no one in his lineage would reach old age, all dying in the prime of life, and Eli would lose his sight and strength, and even more, his two sons (I’m guessing the ones who treated the sacrifices with contempt) would both die on the same day. When the Lord finally called on Samuel, He told Samuel that He was going to do something in Israel and that He was going to carry out everything He spoke against Eli’s family because his sons blasphemed God. 

Naturally, Samuel was afraid to tell all of this to Eli because he knew how much it was going to suck, but Eli came to him and told him to tell him everything that God revealed to him in his vision. So, Samuel told him everything.

Okay. So, how would you react if someone you loved just told you all that Samuel told Eli God was going to do to him?

I know that I would be a little lot upset because I’d want to do everything I could to keep it from happening. I’d be really frustrated, maybe even angry at God. I might even rebuke my friend for telling me all of those terrible things.

But Eli? Eli said something that doesn’t make any sense.

He said:

“He is the LORD; let Him do what is good in His eyes.”

I get it; Eli was a priest, a holy man that loved God and believed He is Good.

but it makes zero sense to me that he just found out that God was about to #wreck his life and that there was literally nothing that he could do to stop it all from happening.

Eli knew that the rest of his life was going to be filled with a lot of pain and heartache, but despite this, He still chose to believe and say that God is good and that what he was doing was good.

How crazy is that?

The trust that Eli had reminded me of a man that I went to church with when I was younger. Throughout most of my childhood, I attended a small Methodist church in the middle of nowhere in small-town Ohio. On an average Sunday, about fifty people would make up our congregation so you could imagine how tight our church was during this time.

There was an old man in the church who just about everyone I knew adored, and his name was Dennis. I was too young to understand everything at the time, but from what I could gather, Dennis was really sick, and there was a good chance he wouldn’t overcome this sickness.

Dennis knew this too. He knew that the sickness that stole his body would be what stole his life.

Though his life was ending, his faith never wavered. I remember hearing him say that he didn’t know how to respond when people would ask him how he could believe in God when God would let him experience this terrible sickness. He said that he didn’t understand a lot of things in life, but he knew that no matter what he didn’t know or understand, he knew that God was Good. He said that he trusted God, and he wanted to trust Him even when it hurt.

He couldn’t change his circumstances, but that didn’t change the Goodness of God.

A few months later, Dennis died. I remember being at his funeral and listening to my pastor explain how faithful Dennis was all the way until the end of his life. It’s something that I still remember several years after it happened.

The faith of Dennis and Eli to trust God even when it hurts is something so profound that I can hardly wrap my mind around it all. Something in my heart cries out when I remember their stories and the harsh reality of their circumstances.

We live in a broken, fallen world where pain is inevitable. Every day something unexplainable happens, and most times I find it hard to see God in the tragedies I see around me. The natural disasters, the mass shootings, the cancer, the abuse. Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes, and I can’t help but think about the families that are hurting right now because of these things.

I want to be like Eli and Dennis, and the others like them. I feel called to try to trust God when it hurts, when I can’t explain it, when all I know is that my heart feels swollen and eyes can’t stop shedding tears. I want to believe He’s still Good.

It’s easy to believe in a Good God when everything is going the way we want it to, but what about when everything is falling apart?

I believe in a constant God. A God that is loving and kind, that is gentle and Good. He doesn’t change. God is always Good.

He never said that we wouldn’t have pain or hurt, but He promised that He’d always be there to hold us when it felt like too much.

There’s a song called Beautiful Rose by Sean McConnel, and there’s a verse in that song that sticks out to me more than anything else:

“Just think what we’d be missing if we only got what we were wishing…”

Sometimes I wish that the world wasn’t so terrible. But if the world wasn’t like it is, I think I’d miss why we need God so much. We can’t always change our circumstances, and maybe that’s for a good Good reason.

For me and you: let’s try to trust God even when it hurts. Bring value to the pain by drawing close to the Lord and trusting in His plan, even when we don’t understand.

Categories: reflections, stories
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