Reflections – 2019.09
Glorifying God: Believing
The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
– Westminster Shorter Catechism
Faith knows there are no impossibilities with God, and will trust Him where it cannot trace Him.
– Thomas Watson, from A Body of Divinity
A lot of people hate flying. I am not one of them. I have always enjoyed the lift off, the landing, the knowledge that I am thousands of feet in the air, going at very high speeds, while sitting in a seat and drinking a coffee or reading a book. Like most people who have done some flying, there are stories of turbulence. The seatbelt light goes on, the calm voice of the pilot is heard, and we prepare for some shaking, sometimes significant shaking. Once I was on a flight to Denver with a person who talked about himself for the entire flight. That was also turbulence, just a different kind. But the one thing I never think about is the pilot or his competency. I cannot see him during the flight. Doors make that impossible. But I know the pilot is there and I believe that he is competent and that he has my main interest (survival) in mind.
I Samuel 1 and 2 tell the story of Hannah. This is a woman with a very difficult life – the turbulence within her family, the heartache of childlessness, the mocking words of her rival, the sadness she had to walk through daily. Hannah was, however, a woman of great faith, maybe the greatest woman of faith in the entire Old Testament. In the midst of her hardship, she went to the One who had ordained her hardship. She pleaded with the LORD, she wept before the throne of grace, she waited and hoped and trusted … and when she received the son she had prayed for from the LORD, she gave him right back to the LORD, that her son might serve the LORD all the days of his life. Even in her most desperate prayer and certainly in her prayer of praise after Samuel’s birth, the LORD was at the center – His glory – not her own, was her concern.
Hannah glorified God because she trusted Him when she could not trace Him, as Watson says. She did not doubt His care for her in the midst of her pain. She trusted Him. She even trusted that He could do the “impossible”, that He could give her a child, even as He had given a child to Sarah, to Rachel … and if He chose not to, she would continue to live the life of pain she had lived up to that point, while remaining faithful to the LORD. Elizabeth and Mary would later pray their own prayers which sound strikingly similar to Hannah’s. Salvation prayers. God-glorifying prayers.
It would be odd to be a pilot who was constantly questioned during the flight: “Is this the correct altitude?” “Are you sure you know where you are going?” “Do you understand the dials?” “Are you properly qualified to fly?” “Why would you bring us through turbulence? Couldn’t you just fly us through some smooth air?” I suppose the pilot might grow impatient with these questions. Praise the LORD that He does not grow impatient when we ask Him the same sorts of questions. When we trust the pilot, we honor the pilot. We put our lives in his hands and he takes that seriously. When we trust the LORD, when we put our heart, mind, soul and strength – all of us – in His hands – even when we are in turbulent times, even when we cannot see Him or He seems somehow distant from us, we bring glory to Him. And we will land … He who began a good work in You will be faithful to complete it. Anyone who believes in Christ, will not perish, but have eternal life. He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him give us all things? How can you glorify God? By believing these things. Trust Him. He is worthy of that trust.