I’m delving into brave new territory today. And I’m blaming it all on those wonderful women from (in)courage and the Five Minute Fridays that I’ve been writing with and getting to know for a few months now. They’re so embracing, so encouraging – what’s a girl supposed to do? While scrolling through and reading last week’s posts, I saw something on OneGirl’s site – It Just Takes One. An invitation for a Monday link up – Chasing History – with the idea of studying, writing, and sharing about some of our favorite women in biblical history. This is a bit more than five minutes, and let me be honest – it kind of scares me to bits. But I’m all about jumping off the bridge, so I’m going to give it a whirl and a leap – all the while asking for grace.
One of my favorite verses – one of the ones I hold on to in the hardest of times comes from Psalm 27. Verses 13 and 14 speak to knowing that the Lord is God and that He has everything in His hand; in His timing. And that His grace and mercy will be extended to us – not only in the heavenly realm, but here on earth as well:
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
that I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.
Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD!
It also encourages and extols us to wait on the Lord and be courageous while we do us. Surely David knew that waiting required such courage. And isn’t that the truth. Waiting is never easy. And waiting for God’s timing? It can be the hardest thing to do.
Waiting: Two Kinds of Time
One of my favorite writers, Madeleine L’Engle, speaks of two kinds of time: chronos and kairos. In chronos – there is chronology: “the time which changes things, makes them grow older, wears them out, and manages to dispose of them, chronologically, forever.” In kairos, we simply are. “Kairos is not measurable. Kairos can sometimes enter, penetrate, break through chronos: the child at play, the painter at his easel, are in kairos. The bush, the burning bush, is in kairos, not any burning bush, but the particular burning bush before which Moses removed his shoes; the bush I pass by on my way to the brook. In kairos that part of us which is not consumed in the burning is wholly awake.” [A Circle of Quiet]
While we wait, we know God has it all planned out. We trust Him. But being creatures bound by chronos – linear time – makes understanding God’s timing – kairos – time immeasurable – so much harder. When I think of waiting on the Lord, trusting in His promise, and then waiting some more, I think of 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. Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s 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. Her husband Elkanah 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?”
1 Samuel 1:1-8
Beloved of her husband, cherished and valued – despite the fact that the Lord kept her from bearing children (for now). The way the verses are written, it appears that Hannah was the first wife and Peninnah was the second wife. She has a place of honor, the love of her husband, and his continued favor (Elkanah gave her a double portion of the sacrifice each year and assured her of his devotion). But she’s missing the one thing that marked a woman of that time as blessed and successful; not to mention her heart’s desire.
When Waiting Stretches On and On
It’s likely that most people I share this with can understand the longing of your heart’s desire – or even just something that you’ve been waiting on for a very long time. In recent years, my family went through what we’ve come to call our Desert Journey – three years where we were without stable jobs and financial stability; three years where we didn’t know where the money for mortgage, utilities, medicine – even food – was going to come from; three years where we discovered what it means to come to the throne room of grace and ask for our daily bread.
As I read of Hannah’s desperate prayers, I remember my own cries before God.
In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the LORD, weeping bitterly. 1 Samuel 1:10
And when my heart was breaking and The Road seemed like an endless one, I cried out saying:
Because it's not direction I'm losing.
The clear, clean, beautiful thing
that is hope
shimmers in the distance
and vanishes into nothingness.
It wasn’t until God had met me in the desert and heard my Cry that I could say:
in quiet moments
i learned to love the desert.
found grace in the desert.
found the heart of my God in the desert.
found the voice that spoke to my soul
in times of need
and painful want.
Waiting is never easy. Waiting for something you want is even harder. Waiting on the Lord – being able to place all your trust in Him – this should be the easiest, but sometimes that’s the hardest thing of all. Despite the fact that we know He has our best interest at heart; despite understanding that He knows our story start to finish, despite all this, it’s still hard.
If you’re waiting for God today, I’d encourage you to meditate on the Psalm I quoted at the beginning of this post – go and look up the whole thing. There’s so much goodness to be had there, so much confidence to be gained in placing our trust in Him.
Hannah waited on God and He rewarded that waiting. I’ll finish up next week with the end of my thoughts on Hannah and her waiting. I hope you’ll join me again.