I want to tell you that in the middle of all your difficulties you can find God: God is with you in the difficulties that you face. You difficulties are real. You may be an immigrant in a new country that does not want to accept you; or you may be a Somali Christian and when you walk into a church no one trusts you because they think you are a criminal or a gang member; or maybe you have travelled very far on many dusty roads and you have ended up empty, tired, hungry, depressed and without money.
I feel sorry for your situation; I understand that you may be in a difficult place; but I am here to tell you that God can give you joy and peace in the middle of all your difficulties.
There was a lady who one day went with her husband to worship and pray to God. This woman was very sad and depressed because she could not have any children. Other women made fun of her and insulted her; even her closest relatives would say very bad things about her. This made her cry. She was depressed and discouraged and did not think that anyone cared for her anymore or loved her.
Here is a bit of her story:
“Each year Elkanah would travel to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies at the Tabernacle. The priests of the Lord at that time were the two sons of Eli—Hophni and Phinehas. On the days Elkanah presented his sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to Peninnah and each of her children. And though he loved Hannah, he would give her only one choice portion because the Lord had given her no children. So Peninnah would taunt Hannah and make fun of her because the Lord had kept her from having children. Year after year it was the same—Peninnah would taunt Hannah as they went to the Tabernacle. Each time, Hannah would be reduced to tears and would not even eat.
“Why are you crying, Hannah?” Elkanah would ask. “Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me—isn’t that better than having ten sons?”
Once after a sacrificial meal at Shiloh, Hannah got up and went to pray. Eli the priest was sitting at his customary place beside the entrance of the Tabernacle. Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. And she made this vow:
“O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.”
As she was praying to the Lord, Eli watched her. Seeing her lips moving but hearing no sound, he thought she had been drinking. “Must you come here drunk?” he demanded.
“Throw away your wine!”
“Oh no, sir!” she replied. “I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord. Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.”
“In that case,” Eli said, “go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.”
“Oh, thank you, sir!” she exclaimed. Then she went back and began to eat again, and she was no longer sad.” –Samuel chapter 1
God heard Hannah
Hannah was feeling very depressed and discouraged. She was very sad and she felt hopeless. So she cried out to God and told Him how she felt, that she was sad and discouraged and upset; that she really wanted to have a baby. Her husband wasn’t enough for her, her family wasn’t enough, her money wasn’t enough, and knowing God wasn’t enough for her – she wanted to have a baby and God gave her one. God heard her prayer and answered her. So be encouraged in your difficulty; whatever your depression or discouragement is God is with and God will help you. Cry out to Him and pour your heart out to Him and let Him help you and give you the desires of your heart.
There are many things in this world that can grab our attention. We can focus on many problems that we have. We can focus on the fact that we do not have any food; we can focus on the fact someone is persecuting us; we can get angry and mad; but God wants all of us to put our attention on Him and to bring Him all our problems and our difficulties.
It is not easy to do that sometimes. Sometimes we can get so tired and depressed that we just want to die. Many people in the Bible felt like this. They felt so tired and depressed from all their problems that they couldn’t even pray anymore.
For example, even King David who was a very rich and powerful man, a man who could get anything he wanted, sometimes felt so discouraged and depressed that he could not even pray.
He will help you
No matter how difficult your situation, no matter how bad your sickness or your physical pain, no matter how dark your loneliness is God is there to help you. It is not easy. Sometimes we are so discouraged we cannot even pray. That’s ok. In times like these just remember that there is a God and He loves and cares for you.
God sees our pain and suffering and knows all about it; we feel so discouraged because it lasts so long. God doesn’t always remove our pain and suffering right away and we spend many years sick, tired, empty, without hope before God comes and helps us. In those terrible times of waiting we have to do what Hannah did and cry out to the Lord with all our hearts and pour out our problem to Him. God will hear us and God will help us.
Other don’t follow God because they want to be rich
So, some of us need to remember to follow God and to pray to Him when we are overwhelmed and burdened with all the troubles this world can give us. But others have to remember to follow God and call upon His name and power instead of chasing after money.
Some people put money in their hearts and minds and believe that money is the answer to everything and that all they need is money and nothing else. Money becomes their god and making money is their form of worship. Everything they do they do to make money, whatever business they are in or whatever it is they are doing.
Jesus was tempted by the world, but Jesus was able to say “no” to the world and all the riches of the world.
Let’s hear what Jesus did when the devil came to Him and offered Him all the riches of this world:
“Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.”
“Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say,
‘You must worship the LORD your God
and serve only him.’”
Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.” – Matthew 4:8-11
Jesus was shown all the kingdoms and riches of this world – all it’s wealth – but he chose to follow God and God’s word.
Don’t give you heart to the world – give it to God
Some of you have to understand that it is better to serve God than it is to serve money. It is better to ask God what it is you can do for Him that it is to ask the world how you can make as much money as possible. Money is not evil, money is not bad. We need money to survive; we need money to buy food and pay for something to heat and cook our food or heat our houses.
But money should not become our God and we should follow what the world tells us to do in order to make as much money as possible; we should turn our hearts to God and worship Him.
Jesus told us the best way to live our lives, whether we are overwhelmed with problems or whether we are trapped in a lifestyle that puts money in front of everything else. If we put money if front of everything else and make money our priority, we might get all the money we want, but we may lose everything else.
“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”
Jesus also said:
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”