By Nina Medrano –
We can discern God’s seasons in life by seeing what is going on in the natural setting. Then we can see the parallel take place in the spirit.
For instance, for the past few weeks, we have been experiencing record counts of rainfall throughout our great state of Texas. In parallel, I have noticed every day as I read the Word of God pearls of truth are reigning down into my spirit. One of these pearls of truth comes from the story of Hannah’s irritation, found in 1 Samuel 1:3-7 (NIV):
Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the LORD Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the LORD. Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the LORD had closed her womb. And because the LORD had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the LORD, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat.
Have you ever had a rival in your life that just irritates you every time he or she enters the room? Even when you take this issue to the Lord in prayer, this person continues to provoke you to the point of stress.
By definition, rivals compete against you. And a rival can be anyone or anything: a family member, a new boss, a home project, a work deadline, a budget and yes, even a ministry. When a rival’s provocation endures for a length of time, we tend not to see the greater work of God that is being done in us through the process of irritation.
When I think of the word “irritate,” the word picture that comes to mind is natural pearls. Pearls form when some type of irritant enters the mussel or oyster shell. As a defense mechanism, the oyster secretes nacre in layers, surrounding the irritant; resulting in some of the worlds most beautiful pearls of great price.
I have had plenty of irritants my life, but, unlike Hannah, I had not always responded to them in a way that was pleasing to God. Thank God for His mercy that is new every morning.
Recently, a new irritant has entered my life. This time around, I responded differently. Instead of complaining and whining, I prayed blessing and wisdom and favor over this person’s life. And, instead of resisting or pushing away or worse, walking away from the irritation as I always do, I struggled to see this person’s value to Him.
In the end, surrendering to God’s process of irritation is difficult. We are such strong-willed humans—dying to self does not come willingly. I am humbled by God’s overriding grace that continues to work in our character.
The Apostle Paul, no stranger to irritants, states this process so well
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessel, to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” (2 Corinthians 4: 6-10, NIV).
Nina Medrano, a native Texan, writes short inspirational stories for women and children and leadership articles for the workplace.