As I’ve mentioned a few times, we’re studying 1-2 Samuel together with the church on Sunday mornings. Last Sunday, February 12, 2012, we discussed 1 Samuel 2. This chapter begins with Hannah’s prayer after she leaves Samuel at the tabernacle.
There is another “prayer of Hannah” in 1 Samuel 1:11 that is more popular and familiar. But, when we studied her prayer from 1 Samuel 2:1-10, I found something extremely encouraging. In the long central section of the prayer (1 Samuel 2:4-8), she reminds herself (and those listening/reading) that God often works in ways that we do not expect.
We expect the strong to do mighty works, not the feeble. (1 Samuel 2:4) We expect the poor to beg for food, not the rich. (1 Samuel 2:5) We expect the dead to stay dead. (1 Samuel 2:6) And, it continues. In other words, God often chooses to work in ways and through people that we would not choose ourselves.
When I read through this prayer, I was reminded of something that Paul wrote:
For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being(1 )might boast in the presence of God. (1 Corinthians 1:25-29 ESV)
Of course, Paul was probably referring back to another Old Testament passage. (Jeremy 9:23-24) But, the point is similar: God often works through the weak, the unknown, the “foolish” in a way that confounds those who are witnesses of this work. Why? So that no one can boast in themselves. So that we can only boast in the Lord.
Is this just an interesting point to notice in Scripture? No, I don’t think so. Instead, I think these passages – and a multitude of passages that teach a similar point – should help us understand how God often chooses to work and should affect the way that we expect God to work through one another and others.
Are we only expecting God to work through the “expected” channels? Are we giving opportunities for God to work through other people, or only those we “expect” God to work through? Do we need to change our expectations?
It’s amazing, really, what happens when we begin expecting God to work in unexpected ways and through unexpected means… even when we expect God to work through “unexpected” people.
If we embrace the fact that God actually works in ways that we would not expect (and that would seem contrary to normal wisdom) then this would affect how we meet with one another as the church. I’ll share more about that in tomorrow’s post.
Have you ever seen God work through someone in an unexpected way? Are you giving God opportunities to work through unexpected people in unexpected ways? How?