Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hannah's Prayer

God has been inconceivably good to me throughout my life, blessing me with love, gifts, talents, and opportunities undeserved. I wholeheartedly acknowledge how wonderfully He has treated me. And yet, as a sinful human being, I have had my share of bitterness and discontentment.

And of all the areas that I might experience discontentment, one stands out...love.

When can I have a boyfriend? Why can't I have a relationship? What hinders me from having a relationship at all? I have repeatedly asked my parents over the years, behind closed doors and oftentimes in tears.

They might have reasons, but they have never sounded reasonable to me. I have grown up all my life a helpless romantic. I have always longed for the time to give myself wholeheartedly to the man I love, to share with him my heart and my life. Yes, I've had my other dreams in terms of ministry and friends and career...but at the end of the day, I've always just wanted to be a committed wife and mother. Why would my parents allow me to pursue everything else, except the one thing I have always longed for?

When my parents tell me why I am not consistent and mature enough to make a serious commitment yet, they actually make sense. They just don't make sense to my childish and selfish heart. And, of course, there is always the comparison factor: Why can't I have a relationship now? I am more ready than so and so, than he or she.

That is the question that always haunts me the most. Why can't I if he or she can? I know that, with the way I am now, I would make a much better partner than many people who are dating (or getting married, for that matter) actually make. Why hold me to such a high standard?

The bitterness almost killed me. It gnawed away at my heart...until God spoke to me through Hannah.

At the beginning of the book of Samuel, Hannah mourned her own barrenness. Her husband's other wife, Peninnah, had many children. Yet Hannah, the godly woman in the family, had no children of her own. She was pestered by Peninnah, and she was looked down upon by her society. In many ways, she was persecuted. Yet still, God refused to give to her a child.


"Hannah would have made a much better mother than Peninnah ever would have," our pastor preached on Mother's Day, "But God chose to let Hannah turn to Him and pray to Him and wait upon Him...because He had something better, because He was refining her."

Then God give her Samuel, as well as many other children to follow.

The message spoke to my heart. It does not matter how good of a girlfriend or fiance or wife or mother I could be. I am not given those roles at the moment. It does not matter if I am this much more mature or considerate than any other person is, for God does not grant blessings based upon any human merit.

So now, do I still find it hard to trust that God will give me what is better for me than anything others around me have? Oh yes I do.

Do I still foolishly and stubbornly fear that by obeying Him I would miss out on the love of my life? You bet!

But when those thoughts pervade my mind and drive me to complain against God...I think of Hannah, and I think of how much agony she went through before God gave her a son who would be the greatest judge of Jewish history, a boy who became the first of the Old Testament prophets.

God does not give anything based upon how much a person appears to deserve it. Every good and perfect gift is from above...and gifts are things that are not earned. I cannot earn or demand or complain. I can only pray to Him, seek Him, love Him...and commit my life into His hands.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

He Knows My Name

I have been called by numerous names throughout my life. Wenslyn, Wen-Wen, Wen, Wens, Wesleen, and my grandmother's famous Son-Hen-Rys-Wen are just a few examples. I've heard of teasing paraphrases from brothers, affectionate pet names from loved ones, and honestly mistaken contortions such as Gwen, Wenston, and Wesley.

I remember walking into my parents' bedroom one day, declaring to my mom that she had given me an irrational name. She looked at me and nodded, "Exactly, that's why it suits you."

Is my name really that hard to know? At our home church, people would know my nickname but misspell my full name. Or some others would recognize my full name only to read it in a sadly mispronounced manner. When I began to attend college in September 2008, things only got worse. Without the family ties that people usually recognize me for, there was practically no reason for anyone to care to remember this whacko of a name.

Wenseen? Weslin? Wendy? Wenslo? People would seriously call me, and I just answer to them all. After all, I knew I was not important. I didn't matter whether anyone knew my name or not. They had no obligation to know. Although it would be nice to be called correctly, I honestly did not mind people's mispronunciation. I knew that selfishness would be the only reason I cared what people thought my name was. I did not mind; I understood.

Then, a truth hit me: "My sheep hear my voice, and I call them by name."

The thought overwhelms me. He knows my name. God knows my name. The incredibility of the idea!

Nothing compares to my insignificance before God; no one can be more undeserving of God's love than I can be. And yet, He knows me, and He calls me by name.

When I reflect upon the number of people that have occupied this planet in this world and throughout history, I realize how truly amazing God's relationship with me is.

He knows me by name; and He knows you by name. Even when nobody else cares, we can rest assured that He does. Whenever loneliness and frustration are overcoming, He knows, He cares...and He calls us to His side.