My heart boasts in the Lord

When was the last time my heart boasted in the Lord? No, it’s not a trick question. The key to grasp is that I’m not boasting in myself or anything I did, etc. I’m boasting in the Lord and what He did. As I return after some distractions and rabbit trails to the subject of joy (I often think I have spiritual ADD), I find myself contemplating the words of what the HCSB subtitles “Hannah’s Triumphant Prayer.” And there, in 1 Samuel 2:1, in the very first statement of her prayer, I find this woman saying, “My heart rejoices in the Lord” (HCSB). The same word rendered “rejoices” here, though, is rendered elsewhere in the HCSB as “gloat” (1x), “exult” (1x), “triumph” (1x), and “boast” (2x). And I think this is maybe a key thing for me.

You see, I have a problem with boasting. Most of the time, I find myself feeling rather inadequate. I question my ability to preach, my capacity to minister, my capabilities as a leader, and more. I look around myself and see people to whom God is granting tremendous growth, prosperity, influence, or success, and I think to myself that God is doing such amazing things in their lives. He’s working absolute wonders over there, but not really right here in my life. And it discourages me. And frustrates me.

This morning, though, I am challenged by Hannah’s prayer. She rejoiced – boasted – in the Lord because, after years of infertility and pain, He had blessed her with a son in 1 Samuel 1. That’s an amazing thing, but as soon as the boy was weaned, she brought him to the temple and dedicated him to the service of the Lord, leaving him there to be raised by the priest. So as amazing as it was that God had given her a son, she only barely had opportunity to enjoy him. And yet she rejoiced.

I think I would have been frustrated. Why did I promise to dedicate this child to the Lord? Or at least ambivalent. I mean, at the very least, I don’t think I would have been able to proclaim that my heart exults in the Lord because I didn’t even get to keep the amazing thing. God gave me a son, but I had to give him back.

In fact, that’s exactly what I do. God does something really amazing, but…

He has blessed me with a wonderful family, but the kids don’t always listen.

He has granted me the privilege to minister and serve as a leader of His church, but I’m not nearly as good at it as so many others.

He has brought new people into our church, but a number of the once-regular have fallen away. And many of the newcomers bring with them issues.

Instead of boasting in what God has done, I find myself considering the cup half-full because there were catches to each of the wonders He did. Each of the amazing things He’s done had some sort of “but…” to them, so I focus on what’s wrong or missing instead of what’s really there.

Why didn’t Hannah?

I guess it’s because, even though there was a huge catch to her blessing of a son, she chose to look at what God had done – the first part of the sentence – rather than the but.

So today, I’m going to start boasting in the Lord. And here are some reasons why:

  • God has given me an amazing, talented, funny, stunningly beautiful wife.
  • He has blessed me with two wonderful children.
  • He has privileged me to lead the greatest congregation in the world.
  • He has granted me effectiveness in ministering to people in our community.
  • He has gifted me in so many ways!
  • He has promised to grow my effectiveness as I commit myself to personal, corporate, evangelical holiness.
None of these are my doing. And pretty much all of them have some sort of “but” associated with them. But the focus today is on the fact that God has done amazing things in my life. And I will rejoice – boast – in Him.
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