What do you do when you’re accused of doing something you didn’t do?
Today, I am remembering a young couple who were falsely accused of stealing items from a neighbor’s house.
They were a young couple that I knew well. As the young man said, “I am guilty of doing a lot of bad things in my life, but stealing is not one of them. I’m not a thief!”
My heart went out to them because I could see the sorrow and fear in their eyes.
Sorrow, because their accusers were supposedly friends who had lied about them for some crazy reason.
Fear, because they were due in court the next day. What would the judge decide? Would they go to jail for something they didn’t do?
I tried to assure them, saying, “If you are innocent, God will defend you. Somehow, some way, God will stand up for you.”
That night before this young couple went to court, I remember praying with all my heart that God would go with them and stand up for them before the judge the next day.
Well, as the saying goes, “God showed up and showed out.”
When it came time for the accuser to give testimony, he broke down and cried before the judge and admitted that he had lied about the young couple. He confessed that his girlfriend had concocted the crazy plan to accuse the young couple of theft. The girlfriend, who was present, started cussing and acting like a fool in court. The judge slapped her with a contempt of court and dismissed the whole case.
Sometimes, unfair or unjust circumstances come up in our lives. But, no matter how frightening or unbeatable they appear—God can and will defend us if we seek his help.
God is there when you need the best defense attorney possible but can’t afford it. The only payment he requires is your love.
“I will wait for You, O You his Strength; for God is my defense. My God of mercy shall come to meet me. God shall let me see my desire on my enemies.” (Psalm 59:9-10)
I have always loved the story of Hannah. Why? Because of her genuineness, her humility, and her strong faith that God could and would help her with her problems. Also, she was faithful in keeping her promises. These admirable traits are not always so prevalent in today’s world.
But most of all, Hannah’s story offers great hope to all of us when we are facing difficult and impossible situations.
This article is based on the text from I Samuel 1:1-2:21
1. Hannah had a problem
Don’t we all? Look around you. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle or struggling with a broken heart.
Hannah’s problem was infertility. She longed for a child. In her day and culture, society required people to bear children, and if they did not, society believed they were cursed by God. Neighbors judged and frowned upon someone with no children.
Added to this already heartbreaking dilemma was the fact that the other wife of Hannah’s husband ridiculed and taunted Hannah, making her feel even worse and more heartbroken.
“And her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that she (the other wife) provoked her (Hannah); therefore she (Hannah) wept and did not eat.” (I Samuel 1:6-7)
You may be facing a heartbreaking problem right now. It may not be infertility. It may be some other issue, but whatever it is, please read on because Hannah’s story offers you hope, direction, and blessings.
2. Hannah persevered
The scriptures say that every year Hannah’s husband took the whole family to worship the Lord and make the sacrifices that God had commanded in the Old Testament. And every year, Hannah had to endure the ridicule of the other wife. Hannah could have understandably used this as an excuse to not go to this annual worship service. Instead, Hannah chose to be faithful and attended the services. She also could have chosen to believe that God didn’t exist, or that He didn’t care about her. She could have chosen to allow her pain and her misfortune to make her bitter and angry at God, but she didn’t. Instead, she chose to be humble and to trust in God’s love and power.
You may wonder where God is in your struggles. God knows your pain, and He cares about it. Just because God does not answer your prayers doesn’t mean He doesn’t care. God has a plan for you just as He did for Hannah. What God wants you to do is to be like Hannah, to trust Him, worship Him, and stay humble and sweet. And, when the time is right, God will bless you like He did Hannah. If you don’t know how He blessed Hannah, please keep reading because it will give you great hope.
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (I Peter 5:6-7)
“Oh, how great is Your goodness, Which You have laid up for those who fear You, Which You have prepared for those who trust in You In the presence of the sons of men!” (Psalm 31:19)
3. Hannah prayed
While attending the annual worship service, Hannah took her problems to God through prayer. The verses in I Samuel, Chapter 1 say this about Hannah:
She wept in anguish. (vs. 10)
She made her request to God. (vs. 11) We should do the same. (Philippians 4:6)
She made a vow to God. (vs. 11) We should commit our ways to God. (Psalm 37:5)
She continued in prayer. (vs. 12) Jesus says we should be persistent in prayer. (Luke 18:1)
She prayed with her heart. (vs. 12) God wants us to worship Him in heart and spirit. (John 4:23-24)
She poured out her soul. (vs. 15-16) Being fervent in prayer is effective. (James 5:16)
She believed in God’s promises, His word, and His power to answer her prayer. (vs.17-18) Faith is powerful. (I John 5:14-15 and Matthew 21:22)
4. Hannah promised
“Then she made a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.” (I Samuel 1:11)
Hannah understood that God’s gifts to us should be used to honor Him. When we honor God, He honors us. (I Samuel 2:30)
When Hannah and her family returned home, God blessed Hannah that she conceived and bore a son. But, she didn’t forget her vow to God. (vs.24-28) She didn’t forget her promise as soon as she got what she wanted.
Think about how difficult this must have been for Hannah to do—to take her little son after he was weaned and leave him with the priest because she had vowed to consecrate the child to God’s service! Yet, as hard and painful as it must have been, she did not back out on what she had promised God.
We would be wise to follow Hannah’s example because the Bible says God has no pleasure in those who do not keep their vows. (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5)
God desires that whatever we do or give to Him should be out of a cheerful heart and not begrudgingly. (II Corinthians 9:7)
5. Hannah praised
After fulfilling her vow and committing her son to God, Hannah praised God. In this prayer of praise, she says:
She rejoiced. (vs.2:1) We, too, should rejoice in God and thank Him for all that He gives us and does for us. (I Thessalonians 5:16; Hebrews 13:15; Philippians 4:6)
Some of the things Hannah praised God for include:
- Silencing the ridicule of her rival. (vs.3)
- Helping those in need. (vs.6-9)
- Exalting the humble. (vs.1, 4-8)
- Giving children to the barren, or infertile. (vs.5)
6. Hannah prospered
In the second chapter of I Samuel, God prospered Hannah.
I Samuel 2:19 says that Hannah saw her firstborn son, Samuel, every year when she went up to the annual worship service with her family. How it must have pleased and comforted her to see her son learning and growing into a man of God! (vs. 21)
Verse 20 says that God blessed Hannah with several more children: three sons and two daughters.
God rewarded Hannah’s faith and faithfulness. God promises to reward our faith as well and commands us that we MUST believe that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
If you are experiencing difficult circumstances or what appears to be an impossible situation right now in your life, I hope and pray that the story of Hannah will lift your heart, give you hope and direction that will lead you to an outcome of fulfillment, rejoicing, and praise to God.
Jesus warned us in Matthew 7:1-2 to be careful how we judge others. But, sometimes you need to make a judgment of a person, group or organization.
Sometimes, you need to make a decision about whether you want to trust another person with your money, your possessions, your children, or your heart.
Sometimes, you need to decide if you should join a particular group. Are they a right fit for you? Do they share the same ideas, beliefs, goals, or problems as you?
Sometimes you need to decide if you should support a particular organization or campaign. How do you know if they if they are a fraud or not?
Sometimes, we do need to make good judgment calls. And the best way to do that is by heeding the wisdom of Jesus:
“For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush.
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:43-45)
If you really need help making a wise judgment about a person, group or organization, take a long, hard look at the fruit he/she/they are producing.
Do good things follow them? Or, does trouble seem to always show up whenever they appear?
When they leave a room or place, what do you see and hear? Do you see people talking about how good it was to be there and what a difference that person or group made for them?
Or, do you see trash lying everywhere and people talking trash? Do you see a line of people who have been hurt or cheated by that person or group?
Who are the other people who associate themselves with this person or group? What are they like? Are they people trying to live honest, decent lives and trying to help others when they can?
Or, are they always stirring up trouble, always complaining about what they don’t have, or how unfair everything is but unwilling to do anything to offer a change for the better?
If you are thinking about investing your money, time or life into a tree, make sure you know the kind of fruit it produces because that is the fruit you will be producing as well.
Finally, what kind of tree are YOU? What kind of fruit are you producing in your life? Think about what kind of results happen after you talk and act.
Do you stir up arguments? Or do your words encourage others and work toward peace?
Do you take the blessings you have in your life and do good with them and help others when you can?
Or, do you waste everything you have and find yourself constantly needing help from others to get by?
If you feel like you are a bad tree, don’t despair. An apple tree cannot change itself. But you can.
Jesus died and was resurrected so that in Him, each of us could bury the “old man’ and rise up a “new creature.” (Romans 6 and II Cor. 5:17)
Unlike trees in the fruit orchard, God gives you and me the ability to change what kind of fruit we are producing. We can change it at any time.
You or I may realize we are producing bad fruit, but if we turn to Jesus and model our ways after Him, we can change into a tree that produces good fruit.
Changing our fruit for the better will not happen overnight. Remember, it can take a tree years sometimes before it ever bears fruit. Just keep focusing on Jesus and His word. Keep positive thoughts. Keep trying to love and forgive others. Keep trying to help others with a kind word or helping hand. And one day, your fruit will be sweet and pleasant.
The other day I ran into a problem that, for a moment, really aggravated me. However, having this problem prompted me to seek for a Plan B, and when I went to Plan B, I ended up getting results far better than I would have had with Plan A.
So, I got to thinking that sometimes our problems are simply stepping stones that press us forward to bigger and better things.
I am reminded of I Thessalonians 5:16—“Rejoice always.”
I have often thought about this verse and wondered, “How can you rejoice when you encounter problems and trials in your life?”
Well, I think I know the answer now. Maybe sometimes our plans do not line up with what God has planned for us, so He allows us to encounter a “problem,” which is really a stepping stone that directs us to His plan, a more perfect scheme than what we had in mind.
So, the next time you encounter an obstacle or problem, don’t get aggravated like I did. Instead, rejoice because God loves you enough to not allow you to be content with your inferior plan. He has a far better plan for you with far superior results.
I don’t know about the rest of the country but here in the South, biscuits smothered with chocolate gravy is a popular breakfast. Or lunch. Or supper. Or just whenever you got a hankerin’ for it.
But, growing up, my Mama went above and beyond an already delicious dish to turn it into something akin to divine: chocolate gravy over pancakes!
If you’ve never tried this delightful concoction, you’ve been missing out on a tasty, filling comfort food that can lift your mood if you are feeling down.
Chocolate makes your brain release those happy endorphins. If you’ve had a bad day or feeling depressed, whip you up a plate of this chocolate gravy and pancakes and your whole world will feel right again.
Want to know how to make chocolate gravy? Check out my recipe below.
4 tbsp. Cocoa powder
8 tbsp. Sugar
4 to 5 tbsp. Self-rising flour
Pat of butter
2 ½ cups milk
1 tsp. Vanilla flavoring
Measure out your cocoa powder, sugar and flour in into a saucepan. Mix until well-blended. You want it to be a real fine texture. Toss in the pat of butter and add the milk and vanilla. Stir all ingredients until completely absorbed by the liquid. Place on medium heat and continuously stir until the mixture thickens.
Don’t worry about all the little lumps that form because they will smooth out as long as you keep stirring. Sometimes, the gravy won’t thicken until it first comes to a boil, but just make sure you steadily stir because it WILL burn quickly if you turn your back on it.
Once the gravy is smooth and thick to your desired consistency, remove from heat and pour it on your favorite pancakes!
Let me know what you think!
Have you ever felt that you were just too bad of a person to expect Jesus to save you? Have you ever felt too sinful to even talk to him?
That maybe you just needed time to grow and become a better person before expecting him to forgive you and allow you into his kingdom?
Or, that maybe you just need to find a way to punish yourself the right way and the right amount of times before approaching him?
My friend, if you feel like this, please know that Jesus did not come to sacrifice his life for anyone worthy of his sacrifice. He gave his life to RESCUE you from UNworthiness!
Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32)
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
If you have not given your heart and life to Jesus, now is the time. Let him rescue you from the guilt of sin, of endless faults and weaknesses, and a lifetime of regrets and unworthiness. Let him cleanse you and set you free!