nathanshaver.com

Thoughts of an ordinary disciple.

I Believe...

Each week we stand in worship before the triune God in the community of faith to confess our faith. This act is a protest against the prince of this world and his claims that God cannot be trusted and that we can be like him. It is a proclamation to the world that we are not the center of the universe and our allegiance belongs first and foremost to a King and kingdom in the heavens, but also very present and in our midst. We pacify our own flesh by renewing our commitment to live under the gracious reign and rule of the Almighty who gave his Son and Spirit that we might have the forgiveness of sins, a community live in, and a table to feast at. Each week we stand and confess "I believe."

When we say "I believe" we are affirming "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). We are aligning ourselves with the saints who have lived, confessed, and hoped in this faith for generations. In doing so we put to death chronological snobbery and own up to our heritage. Alignment is also found with the Church universal. We stand in unity, fellowship, and solidarity with our brothers and sister, mothers and fathers around the world. When we confess "I believe" we are throwing our lot in with those whom the world was not worthy of  and those that have set their hopes on all of the promises and claims of the Lord Jesus Christ. "I believe" is our declaration that we are resting in the love of God, working in the power of God, and delighting in the revelation of God. Let us continue to confess, believe, and obey the Gospel.

The Apostle's Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
    the Maker of heaven and earth,
    and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
    born of the virgin Mary,
    suffered under Pontius Pilate,
    was crucified, dead, and buried;

He descended into hell.

The third day He arose again from the dead;

He ascended into heaven,
    and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
    from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost;
    the holy catholic church;
    the communion of saints;
    the forgiveness of sins;
    the resurrection of the body;
    and the life everlasting.

Amen.

Tears: Watering the Seeds of Gospel Promises

After praying a brief invocation and reading of Psalm 150 (Hallelujah Psalm Collect), I read First Samuel prayerfully (Lectio Divina). Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel, plays such a vital role in the narrative, but what captured my attention was her response to distress, anxiety, and vexation.

Hannah's barrenness led her into great sorrow, while Peninnah, the other wife of her husband Elkanah, provoked her grievously and irritated her. The grief of being unable to bear a child was deep but the provoking only excited the depression and heartbreak. So where does Hannah turn? 

She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.

1 Samuel 1:10

I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.

1 Samuel 1:15-16

Hannah's response in deep sorrow is to cry out to the Lord. O my soul! Look here at this sorrowful woman and learn from her. In anxiety, grief, sorrow and vexation...yes, even when rivals provoke you...turn your heart to the Lord in prayer, weep before his merciful throne. Pour out your soul before the Lord! Though others might consider you a fool, the Lord knows your grief, brokenness, and circumstances. Not only does he know, he cares. 

I thank the Lord that he sees our distress, hears our cries, and welcomes us as we are. The beauty of the passage is that the Lord is at work in sorrow. Suffering is not meaningless. Hannah's tears were watering the seeds of gospel promises. Through her sorrow God was bringing about a great salvation. Hannah was received more than a son when Samuel arrived. She bore in her womb the prophet who would anoint the great king who would father the greater King, the Lord Jesus Christ.