The God Who Hears When You’re Hurting 

The God Who Hears When You’re Hurting 

Introduction 

  • Did you know that people lie every week when they come to church?
    • They do so with just two words: “I’m good.” 
    • Outwardly they look the part; but inwardly they are absolutely broken. 
    • Realize we don’t intend for that to be a lie; we mean it most of the time (as in, ‘I’m good enough to be here.’
  • Many times, its said because they don’t want to burden others; if we are being honest we often don’t want to hear. 
    • Someone says, “I’m making it” or there is a slight hesitation in their response and we reply, “Well good!” And walk away before we have to get too involved. 
    • But who is there for the hurting? 
    • Is the church a place where people can honestly say, “I am not ok. My family is not ok.” 
    • Our Lord pronounced a blessing on those who mourn, but many times we put up barriers. 
  • Yet, even though you may hide the hurt from everyone else, there is someone who is always listening to the beatings of your broken heart: God. 
  • How do I know this? Because of a barren and broken woman named Hannah in 1 Samuel 1. 
  • Text: 1 Samuel 1:1-28. 

Discussion 

  •   Hannah’s story is similar to many great women in scripture (Sarai, Rebekah, Rachel, Elizabeth). 
    • Yet, bareness wasn’t considered a blessing to these women, but a great dishonor. 
    • Emotionally agonizing (v. 7, 10-11, 15-16). 
    • This consumed Hannah’s life; dark cloud which hung over every joyful celebration. 
    • Every year she was reminded at the feast of how much she didn’t have (similar  to people around Christmas time who have lost a loved one). 
  • As if the bareness wasn’t enough, three other characters compound her grief: 
    • Penninah. 
      • Elkanah’s other wife is not only a constant reminder of Hannah’s barrenness (for she has many children (all her sons and daughters), but an active, aggressive enemy. 
        • How did she go about it? Passive aggressive, “Hannah, what are you going to do with all of that meat? You can’t possibly eat all of that on your own.” 
        • Imagine that FB friend who always seems to have it together, yet also slyly reminds you of how bad your life really is. 
      • This is a chronic aggression: “So it went on, year by year” (v. 7). 
        • Imagine the depression that had to set in Hannah’s heart; the desperation, the loneliness, and the resignation that this is her life. 
        • Can’t forget that these were people, with real issues. 
    • Her Husband 
      • Heart really goes out to Elkanah—you can hear the desperation in his voice when speaking to Hannah (v. 8). 
        • Husband who has tried to make the best out of a bad situation (v. 5). 
        • But you can hear he is just as confused at the situation as she is. 
      • Yet, his words surely added to the grief of Hannah: not only is she hurting, but she is hurting the one she loves because of a sorrow she doesn’t seem to control. 
      • Those who struggle with depression often have their sorrow compounded by the fact that they often hurt the ones they care about the most. 
    • The Lord 
      • The other issue which compounds Hannah’s sorrow is feeling that God is behind it (5-6). 
      • Doesn’t make sense: worship God regularly (v. 3) and devoted wife. 
      • Be honest: can’t help but feel that way when things keep going against us: “What have I done to deserve this God?” 
      • What Hannah realizes is that her sorrows are under the guidance of His sovereign hand, and so she turns to the Lord because there is nowhere else to God. 
  • When she does turn to God, she does the one thing humans have done during trails since the beginning of time: she prays. 
  • I believe there are three things we learn about our God from this interaction. 

Application 

  • God Hears Our Heartbreak When No One Else Does 
    • We do pretty good at playing the part of the put together Christian; we learn how to smile and say everything is fine—when in reality we are breaking inside. 
      • No one here knows the silent, sobbing prayers you pour out to God in your home. 
      • No one knows the request you keep bringing before him in desperation, hoping one day it will be answered. 
      • No one else hears those pleas—except God. 
    • The story tells us that Hannah was “speaking in her heart” (v. 13) and she describes it as “pouring out my soul before the Lord” (v. 15) to Eli. 
      • There was no noise, but there was a deep cry of agony deep her her heart. 
      • Eli couldn’t hear it. Elkanah couldn’t hear it. Penninah couldn’t hear it. But God heard it (v. 27). 
      • Incredible that she uses the title “Lord of Host” which brings into thought the concept of God’s sovereignty over all of creation—yet she believes that He will listen to a barren woman from the small province of Ephriam. 
    • Don’t be deceived into thinking that God doesn’t hear or that God doesn’t care—He hears every heartbeat of your sorrow. 
      • As a Father who hears the cry of His child and immediately runs to comfort them. 
      • He is near to the brokenhearted (Psa 34:18). 
    • My prayer is for every Christian to have a greater awareness of God’s presence in their pain; to know, with the eyes of faith, that God is there hearing your weeping. 
  • God Remembers our Struggles When Everyone Else has Forgotten  
    • When tragedy comes our way, it seems like our world stops and everyone else’s keeps going. 
      • Elkanah’s, Eli’s, Penninah’s life kept going, but Hannah’s life was stopped dead in its tracks. 
      • Like many, they are with you for a moment in your struggles, but life goes on and they forget about the pain you are still enduring. 
      • Many times we just wish people would remember; not simply as a fact, but to remember to share in our pain and help us walk through the valley and come out on the other side. 
    • In the midst of her agony Hannah has a single request: that God would remember her (v. 11). 
      • When her prayer is answered it is referred to as God “remembering” (v. 19). 
      • Days have passed, months even—but God doesn’t forget Hannah’s pain. 
      • Everyone else has moved on, but God is still thinking about Hannah and brings her through the pain. 
    • Some valleys are darker and longer than others; sometimes the trails last longer than we thought they would; but here is the promise of our God: He will remember you and bring you through the pain (ultimately, this is the hope of the resurrection). 
  • God Understands When Everyone Else is Confused 
    • Let’s be honest: its difficult to know how to handle it when others break down; when they start crying in anguish. 
      • What do you say? What do you do? 
      • It can be confusing for those trying to comfort, and we don’t always say/do the right thing even in our best efforts. 
    • We see this in Eli: he misinterprets Hannah’s silent anguish as a drunken stupor (1:13-14).
      • Yet, God isn’t confused by our heartbreak; its not awkward for him when we come to him in our great anxiety and vexation and pour out our hearts to Him. 
      • We serve a Lord who is “acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3); that is, he knows sorrow well. 
      • The Lord knows the salty taste of tears; the weary resignation after a hard cry; and the morning ache that comes when you awake and remember the sorrow form yesterday. 
    • We serve a God who we don’t have to apologize to when we break down—he hears and He understands. 
  • God Answers our Pleas, For His Purpose 
    • When we are going through sorrow/suffer tragedy, it seems like everything has gone off the rails. 
      • The track we thought we were one has suddenly taken a huge detour; there doesn’t seem like a purpose to the pain. 
      • Yet, sometimes, when we have come through it we discover a reason—or at least something we learned/gained from the experience. 
    • Hannah doesn’t see it, but God has a purpose for her pain. 
      • Its her loss and need that drives her to pray what she does, which God uses to bring about one of the greatest judges that Israel ever had: Samuel. 
      • So God answers her plea, and comforts her in the answering, but does so for His sovereign purpose. 
    • I like the way the NASB translates Romans 8:28: And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 
      • Notice: the events aren’t good, but God by His sovereign power causes them to be good. 
      • God ultimately will transform the bitter sorrows of this life into unimaginable good in the next. 
      • Even in this life, God can use our pain for a purpose: to discipline us and make us more like Christ. 
  • This is our God: a God who hears our heartbreak when no one else does; who remembers our struggles when everyone else has forgotten; who understands when everyone else is confused; and who answers our please for his own purpose. 

A Deliverer from our Affliction 

  • Yet, this isn’t the end of the story: for in answering Hannah’s prayer, a door is opened for Israel’s deliverance. 
    • Set in the time of the judges when the people disobey God, He sends a nation to persecute them, they call out in affliction, and He remembers His people and sends a deliverer. 
    • Samuel then, is an answer not only to the prayer of Hannah, but to the prayer of the people—He is a deliver who represents God’s love and deliverance for His people. 
  • Yet, Samuel wasn’t the ultimate deliverer, and the affliction of the Israelites wasn’t our greatest enemy. 
    • Rather, it is within our Lord Jesus Christ, and His birth and incarnation, in which we see a God who heard the hurting of his people and remembered their affliction. 
    • The fact that God became a man displays—to its fullest extent—that our God hears and knows our pain, and that through his death and resurrection he delivers us from the affliction and death. 
    • The cross of Christ was the answer to the agonizing prayers of the hearts of humanity from the beginning of time—God heard, and He answered. 

Conclusion 

  • At the beginning, we asked, “Who is there for the hurting?”
    • “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”—James 1:27 
    • Pure religion is about being with the lonely and hurting “in their affliction.” 
    • The church is to be the place where people meet this God, through the presence of His people, as they hear and help those who are hurting. 
  • What’s hurting you this morning? I can’t possibly answer every question you must have, but I do know one thing: God hears you. 

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