“The ones who are raised up from the dust are the poor;
from the garbage heap, he lifts high the oppressed
to make them sit with noblemen;
with the noblemen of his people.
Making the barren woman dwell in a house—
a joyful mother of sons.
The last three verses of this psalm are a direct allusion to the prayer of Hannah (1 Samuel 2:8), Hannah praising God for his providential grace in opening her womb and in giving her a son. Indeed, in Hannah’s case, she would not only go from being a barren woman with an empty house to being the mother of Samuel, the last Judge of Israel, but she would bear an additional three sons after Samuel as well as two daughters (1 Samuel 2:21). What grace that God showed to this humble woman, and that grace is a sign of the wonderful care that God takes in lifting the poor and broken-hearted out of their sorry estates and raising them on the heights of joy on eagles wings. Indeed, not only does God have a heart for ministering to the downtrodden, but should it be such a surprise that God commands our worship to also be one that is focused on the care of the poor, the orphan, and the widow (Isaiah 1:17; James 1:17)? Richard Sibbes, the great Puritan writer, once wrote that God has two heavens: one that is glorious and high above and the second is the broken heart, which is a place that you just can’t keep God out of. Indeed, how we must too be about our father’s work.
The question, though, that we must also dwell upon, is why, when God chooses to elevate some from the depths of their despair and barrenness, why does God not choose others who desire and pray earnestly that they might be given children? Certainly, the obvious answer is that God is sovereign and does not need the council of men, but how do we see God comforting one for whom it is not in his plan to bring children? There are several answers that we must give. First, we must learn to trust in God’s providence. God is sufficient in himself to bring joy even to the most wounded and broken heart. Certainly that requires us to trust him to bring us such contentment, but he is more than able to bring contentment even to the most downtrodden soul. Oh, how we fall prey to the lies of this world that our contentment can be found in other gods—even the god of family. How we see being surrounded by family as the only solution to the loneliness that we often feel, whether it be children or a spouse that you long for or whether it be family that has been separated from you (by distance or death) that you miss. Beloved, let it be God who brings solace to your troubled heart; let it be God that you surround yourself with during the day; let it be God that brings you rest; and let it be God who fills your home—none will fill your life more richly or more fully than he.
Second, we must ask ourselves, how is God is using these events, as deeply as they may grieve our souls, for the good of his glory. God has promised us that he will work all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28), but we must always understand events by God’s standard of good, and not our own. We often define good as that which is comfortable or easy; God defines good as that which reflects his character and brings him glory. Beloved, how different a mindset that is than the mindset by which we usually operate. Oh, how we should praise God even for the great trials of faith that we face, for these trials draw us closer to God and draw us deeper into his abundant mercies. We may not understand the purpose behind the events of God here in this life, for which of us who are fallen and finite humans, can acts as a counselor to God, but we can be assured that God has good purposes in all his actions.
Loved ones, rejoice in God’s good providence, even if it does not unfold in your life the way that you think it ought. Trust God and cling to his mercies that all that takes place in your life takes place in such a way that it honors him and brings him glory—and that it does so in such a way that men and women—unbelievers—are drawn to faith through you. Remember that these psalms of praise that we know as the Hallel psalms carry with them evangelistic overtones. Yet there is one other piece of the puzzle we must remember. Not only are these psalms given for the purpose of evangelizing the nations—that the nations might see God’s goodness to his people and be drawn to praise (Psalm 117)—but they are also given for the purpose of evangelizing our children. How our children need to see in us the joy that we feel in our God. If they don’t see God being gloriously and magnificently gracious to us, then what will attract them to Christ?
Let all things their Creator bless,
And worship Him in humbleness,
O Praise Him! Allelulia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit, Three in one!
O Praise Him! O praise Him!
Allelulia! Allelulia! Allelulia!
-St. Francis of Assisi