“Give to God what is God’s.” Sound familiar?
Sometimes, having faith is hard.
More specifically, having faith that God will come through in something you’re hoping for, can be challenging. It’s not that I don’t believe in the goodness of God or His faithfulness. But it’s often that I don’t fully grasp that concept and truth. I can say too much about how much God is good and how much He never fails to be faithful. But, I can also speak to the times when I’ve simply forgotten that, and failed to hope and trust in the Lord in all areas of my life.
As I browsed YouTube this morning, looking for something to listen to (not watch!) on my way to work, one video’s title caught my eye, “My Husband Passed Away”. I took a deep breath and looked at the screenshot of the video. It pictured a young woman, beautiful and radiant–a stark contrast, I thought, to the topic that she was about to cover. Much to my hesitancy, I clicked “PLAY”.
She explained in the video, that after only a few years of marriage, at 26 years old, she was now a widow. Her husband had passed away suddenly, the day before his birthday while he was doing a worship set at church. My heart broke not just for her loss, but from her beautiful testimony and faith.
But, in the midst of her pain, chaos and confusion–she trusted God.
I could hear it in her voice. Even through the sniffles and pauses, she didn’t paint God as this unloving, heartless, wrathful God. Instead, she praised God for the life of her husband, for their beautiful relationship and marriage and for the ways God met her and showed her His everlasting love since her husband’s passing.
Her raw and honest testimony about God’s goodness in the midst of this unimaginable tragedy, has encouraged me today. She encouraged me to go to God and proclaim His sovereignty and pure goodness. And to lay down one of my own deepest fears: losing a loved one.
This past year, I asked God to show me the ways in which I wasn’t ready for marriage. An odd prayer request, no doubt, but a necessary one. I was tired of asking Him, “why can’t I have this” or “why can’t I have that”.
So, instead of asking Him “WHY” I started to ask Him “WHAT”.
What is it that You, O Lord, are doing in my life? How can I continue to grow and mature in my walk with you? Which areas of my life need pruning and defining? What parts of me am I too afraid to give to You, Heavenly Father?
And just as a heads up: if you ask God to show you where He desires to see you grow and mature, He will show you. Praise God!
I’m happy to share more about what God’s shown me in this season of asking “WHAT” but for now, I wanted to share one thing specifically. He’s shared with me that every good thing, comes from Him. That means, it all belongs to Him. And nothing belongs to me.
Even my very life. The lives of my family. The lives of my future family. I own none of it.
Which means that when He sees fit, at any moment, He can take any and all of it away. But it’s by His grace–and His grace alone–that He has given me those I care for deeply and kept them.
Which brings me back to that young woman’s testimony about God’s faithfulness in a seemingly hopeless situation–
Give to God what belongs to God.
I’ve been studying 1 Samuel in my personal devotional time, and one Biblical figure’s story in particular, from chapters 1-2 stuck out to me from the beginning. Hannah’s story, that is. We first meet Hannah, a woman who is barren, longing to be a mother. Rightly so–for in that time, it was more of a necessity to have children rather than an option we can either take or leave like it is for some today.
Anyways, Hannah is introduced to us in 1 Samuel chapter 1 as a woman who is loved dearly by her husband, but longing deeply for a child of her own. She goes up to the temple with her family to sacrifice and worship God, and during this particular trip, she is distraught with grief over her longing. She pleads with the Lord for a child. And He remembered her.
What caught my attention and challenged me as I continued to read her story, was the unyielding dedication of her child to the Lord.
“In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on 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
And at first, I wondered–what does “giving him to the Lord” even mean? Again and again, I came back to this passage. I struggled to understand what dedicating something so precious would look like in my own life. But, I think the Bible answered my question today. It’s been about two weeks since I’ve started my study in 1 Samuel, and I am just now coming to the understanding of what that could look like practically.
As Hannah dedicated her son’s life to the Lord–literally, having him live with Eli in the temple to serve and ultimately learn more about the Lord–I realized that dedicating my life, the lives of my parents and my future family means to understand that God is the ultimate owner of ALL of these things. As the young widow mentioned in her vlog, as Hannah showed through her anguish and despair for a child–both women understood what it meant to give God what is God’s. Which is ultimately everything.
And that makes me think–am I willing to do the same?
“At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’ In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”
“‘Should we pay or shouldn’t we?’ But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. ‘Why are you trying to trap me?’ he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.’ They brought the coin, and he asked them, ‘Whose image is this? And whose inscription?’
‘Caesar’s,’ they replied.
Then Jesus said to them, ‘Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.’ And they were amazed at him.”