The God Who Remembers
Robin Weidner, March 2008
Remember: To recall to the mind, think of again; to bear a person in mind as deserving a gift; to keep someone in mind as worthy of consideration or recognition.
“In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord. And she made a vow, saying, ‘O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.’” 1 Samuel 1:10-11 [emphasis mine]
Remember me. Let me know you haven’t forgotten me. It sounds so simple, so obvious. But as I did an indoor prayer walk about the bed and breakfast my husband and I were holed up in to write (we had the whole place to ourselves), uttering those words brought a huge lump to my throat. In fact, I could barely choke them out through the tears that seemed to come out of nowhere.
Certainly, my arenas of infertility (unsatisfied hopes and deferred dreams) are different than Hannah’s. I’ve never struggled with not being able to have children. (In fact, at one point my doctor told me I was a “gynecologist’s dream” because I was built for conceiving and delivering babies en masse!) I feel entirely blessed with our three beautiful (now young adult) children.
Although I don’t long for any more physical births, there are spiritual births I’d give anything for. Changes I wish would happen overnight, instead of through long years of heartache. I have more firsthand experience than I would like with the word of wisdom, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…” (Proverbs 13:12). And, similar to Hannah, I find myself watching year after year as others receive some of the very blessings I long for. Rejoicing with them, yet sometimes bearing a silent pain of my own.
But if I dare to look beneath my pain, I find a deeper longing. One that I think speaks volumes: God, do you remember me? Have you heard my prayers, seen my heart, felt my love? Can you give me a visible sign that it all matters, that everything will be ok, that you haven’t forgotten?
There is a second prayer in Hannah’s story. A prayer of celebration and consecration. It comes after God hears Hannah’s prayer and opens her womb. It comes after she takes her little boy and places his hand in the hand of Eli, the high priest (the same priest who earlier accused her of being drunk when she was pouring out her sorrow, and who then turned around and blessed her, after she opened her heart to him in vulnerability).
In this prayer, uttered as she walks away after saying goodbye to her only son, I see a woman who responded to her heart’s truest plea, “Remember me!” by standing on, rejoicing in, and even surrendering to the character of God:
My heart rejoices in the Lord;
in the Lord my horn is lifted high. (v. 1)
There is no one holy like the Lord;
there is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God. (v. 2)
For the Lord God is a God who knows;
And by him, deeds are weighed. (v.3)
The Lord sends poverty and wealth;
he humbles and he exalts (v. 7)
He raises the poor from the dust;
And lifts the needy from the ash heap; (v. 8)
For the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s
upon them he has set the world. (v. 8)
He will guard the feet of his saints,
but the wicked will be silenced in darkness.
It is not by strength that one prevails… (v. 9)
There is a confidence in Hannah’s prayer that I yearn for. A confidence that only comes from trusting the “God who knows.” A vulnerable faith that thrives in weakness, knowing that “it is not by strength that one prevails,” and then looks to God to guard my feet. A sacred trust that helps me leave my unfulfilled longings in the strong and capable arms of my God.
I feel confident I’m not alone in this spiritual quest. And, certainly Hannah wasn’t the only woman in the Bible who learned through trial to trust in the God who remembers.
I think of Hagar (the slave girl Sarah gave to Abraham to bear him a son), who fled into the desert with her son Ishmael to escape the contempt of Sarah. After an angel met her in the desert, she gave a name to the Lord, “The God who sees me.” (Genesis 16:13)
I think of Mary, who after the shock of finding out that she was pregnant with the son of God, sang praise to God for “remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever…and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.” Luke 1:46-49 [emphasis mine]
Remember me takes my eyes off of my disappointments and myself and brings me face to face with my God. It helps me to be real before him about my deeper needs. Like Hannah, it leads me to a place of surrender, “Lord remember me, and I’ll give back to you whatever you give.”
And most of all, like Hannah I find the strength to get up, wash my face, and walk forward with peace and replenished faith that my God has not forgotten me.
What are your personal areas of infertility? Together, let’s learn to look beyond our disappointments, beyond our deferred hopes, beyond our longtime heartaches, to see and praise the God who remembers.
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