This article is adapted from a sermon on 1 Samuel, chapter 1
I’ve read a lot this week about the earthquake and ensuing tragic situation in Haiti, the country we’ve forgotten about as long as possible. But the most powerful thing I’ve read was written by James MacDonald…
The first reports we have been able to glean are of a ruined 1,500 seat worship center recently dedicated as a lighthouse for the gospel in Port-au-Prince- now just a mangled heap of stone and steel. The second piece of news that reached us was of a smaller church whose place of worship is wrecked and whose pastor and family are dead. The third message that got through the tangled communication grid was from a woman in our church just home from a Haitian orphanage whose founder cannot find his 2 sisters, brother and father.
All of this has sounded in my ears like a military drummer leading a processional of pain, and I cannot escape the cadence of a single interrogative, Who will help the church? Hour by hour this week, and even in the quiet moments of sleeplessness, God’s Spirit has been pursuing me with a question I cannot answer: Who will help the church?
The waves of humanitarian aid are washing ashore in Haiti and beginning to meet this massive need but I can’t escape my sense that little if any of this medicine will soothe the sores of the suffering church. The country will be rebuilt in time, but so little of that aid will go to my brothers and sisters and I feel I must do what I can to help them. But I really have no idea what that help would or should entail.
Galations 6:10 says, “and let us do good to all men, but especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
Without question the priority of the ‘church helping the church’ is commanded by Paul in scripture and modeled by Paul in his crisis care for the Corinthians and the church in Jerusalem. If Paul were alive today there is no doubt his first concern as a church planter and leader in the body of Christ would be for the family of God in Haiti. How can the priority Paul lived and taught not be mine as a bible believing Christian?
~ James MacDonald, Helping the Church in Haiti
I’m very moved by God’s timing in where we are in the Scriptures. I was anxious to jump into 1 Samuel two weeks ago, and equally anxious last week and both weeks we had to cancel because of inclement weather and a very icy parking lot. I think God was up to something, because the message God has for us from 1 Samuel 1 is the message I think we need to hear about the people of Haiti, as well as the message we need to hear for our own lives as well… “God remembers you!”
1 Sameul is a narrative history of the lives of Samuel and Saul and their respective roles in the nation of Israel. But the story begins with one sweet little lady named Hannah who couldn’t have children.
The story opens with Hannah unable to bear children. Her husband favors her over the other wife (one more reason there were one too many wives in the picture) but still doesn’t understand her. In fact, no one really understands her.
- Elkanah thinks he alone should be more satisfying to her than having kids.
- Peninnah, the other wife, mocks her out of the jealousy of her heart.
- Eli assumes her to be drunken, and perhaps a temple prostitute of Belial.
But God understands.
Eli, on God’s behalf, announces to her that her prayers will be answered and she’ll bear children. She received his promise in faith and went home “no more sad.” The most powerful verse in the passage comes in verse 19…
… and Elkanah knew his wife; and the Lord remembered her.
God remembered her. I want to focus on that phrase in this message and point out the two great assurances we receive from it.
God Doesn’t Forget Us In Our Pain
God is all-knowing and all-powerful. He isn’t surprised by anything. He never gets amnesia. While all of those around us may be clueless as to our situation and while we may feel like the loneliest individual in the world – stranded on an island of grief, rejection, and pain… God remembers us.
In this case, God had shut up Hannah’s womb for a purpose. Her waiting would pay off and God would receive glory in His own timing.
The people of Haiti have, in the minds of the rest of the world, been largely forgotten. It’s been easy for developed nations to turn a blind eye to the plight of the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, but I’m convinced that God has never forgotten Haiti. And God doesn’t forget about you in your pain either.
He knows. He understands. He hurts along with you.
God Gets Involved In Our Pain
The way we translate this Hebrew phrase has some weaknesses because of our understanding of the word “remember.” We tend to read it as though God had an epiphany and said to Himself, “Oh yeah, Hannah – just remembered!” But the Hebrew word translated “remembered” here literally means “to approach.” It involves memory, but it signifies a memory that invokes an action. God acts.
I don’t know how God will act in your life – He is mysterious in His ways. What I do know is that God has a habit of coming alongside underdogs and hurting people and doing something about their situation in His own time.
When Israel was in Egypt, God sent Moses. When Hitler and the Nazis sought to wipe out the Jewish race, God involved the whole world. God will act in Haiti. God will act in your life when you hurt as well. His timing isn’t always ours and His methods aren’t understandable by humanity, but God acts.
The greatest demonstration of this in all of history was the cross. God saw our plight. We are helpless and sinful, spiritually bankrupt and destined for an eternity in hell. God remembers us. He acts in sending His Son to live on this earth and to die on the cross to pay the penalty of our sins. We were condemned in sin, but God acted in providing a Savior!
Now, I would ask you to act. Act for the Haitian people with your prayers and giving, but more importantly, act by trusting Jesus Christ as your own Savior if you haven’t already. God has provided Him as your Deliverer because God is attuned to your plight. Receive Him today – He would love for you to get to know Him.
The following are affiliate links to products I recommend.
- If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil
by Randy Alcorn
- The Problem of Pain
by C. S. Lewis