When Circumstances Overwhelm Us

I have friends in Houston, Texas, and surrounding towns—you may also—who are experiencing the rains and winds of Hurricane Harvey’s lingering effects. For all that can be predicted, they know they have to wait and then live through what actually comes. And that’s hard. At the same time, all other challenging matters of life haven’t evaporated. For the moment, they may shrink in comparison, but they’re still there.

You know what I mean. A new trial develops, yet the other hard things remain, too. We press on, hanging in there, until sometimes we wear down, fall apart, cry, pray, vent, and try our best to keep praying—to keep holding on to the One who holds us and holds all creation.

“I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD . . . speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” (1 Samuel 1.15b-16)

All week I’ve been planted in this passage in 1 Samuel 1.1-20, where God unfolds how Hannah perseveres in faith and how he attends her heart through her circumstances. Hannah prays for years to conceive a child, plus her husband’s other wife regularly provokes her that she’s born multiple children. One big trial compounded by another—Can you relate?

Hannah is “deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly.” (v.10)

Anxiety, worry, pain, and frustration accompany Hannah’s heart. Yet, the Companion whose company she steadfastly chooses is her LORD. She takes her experiences and feelings to God, not holding back. She unloads every aspect of her burden, letting tears wash her empty.

This is intimacy with God. Raw and honest, yet worshipful. God is Hannah’s heavenly Father and Lord.

“Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.” (v.18b)

Her face was no longer sad. She went “her way,” back to the circumstances that currently define her life. Yet, she went changed—changed by her encounter with the living God. Changed by his love that filled all places in her heart when she emptied all that burdened her. She “went” with God, with His peace that passes all understanding.

Hannah’s no-longer-sad face reflects a heart that has overcome the overwhelm of circumstances in the power of God’s love. She trusts God—that He sees, listens, holds, and loves her through all circumstance.

Dear God,
Thank you for sharing a segment of Hannah’s life and relationship with us. Help us seek to know you more as our Father and Lord, who loves us immeasurably. Teach and prompt us to steadfastly walk with You through all circumstances. Amen.

When You Feel Like You’re Going in Circles

get-attachment-79.aspxDo you ever have days when you feel like you’re spinning in circles?
Or even worse, you can’t seem to complete one circle!

I begin to do one thing. Then I look in another direction and see something else I need to begin – or finish (because I moved away from it at some point).

However, as soon as one thing is done, several more to-do’s have generated. Or I’ve created them.
More circles.

get-attachment-80.aspxWhining and Complaining have been my companions recently. (They hang out around spinning circles.) Talking to God about them, a word came to mind. Rhythm.

Webster’s Dictionary enlightened my perspective of this word. The Greek root rhein means to flow.

God’s Word gave direction. “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4.23)

Moving in rhythm with God.
Aiming to be present to His presence.
For the hour. For the day.

get-attachment-77.aspxToo many days, I try to make my own rhythm. And I end up making more circles.

The words around verse 23 lead us out of spinning in circles:

“My son, be attentive to my words;
incline your ear to my sayings. 
Let them not escape from your sight; 
keep them within your heart.
For they are life to those who find them,
and healing to all their flesh….

Let your eyes look directly forward, 
and your gaze be straight before you.
Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.” (Proverbs 4.20-22, 25-26)

Holy Spirit of God, we want to move in Your flow for this day. Strengthen us to discern and ignore distraction. Help us embrace the plans You reveal as the hours pass. Fill us with the grace to be content in You. Amen.