Success Is Better Than Revenge
ELKANAH had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not. Each year, Elkanah would travel to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies at the Tabernacle. The priests of the Lord at that time were the two sons of Eli-Hophni and Phinehas.
Peninnah would taunt Hannah and make fun of her because the Lord had kept her from having children. Year after year, it was the same – Peninnah would taunt Hannah as they went to the Tabernacle. Each time, Hannah would be reduced to tears and would not even eat.
“Why are you crying, Hannah?” Elkanah would ask. “Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me – isn’t that better than having ten sons?”
Once after a sacrificial meal at Shiloh, Hannah got up and went to pray. Eli the priest was sitting at his customary place beside the entrance of the Tabernacle. Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.”
As she was praying to the Lord, Eli watched her. Seeing her lips moving but hearing no sound, he thought she had been drinking.
“Must you come here drunk?” he demanded. “Throw away your wine!”
“Oh no, sir!” she replied. “I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord. Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.”
“In that case,” Eli said, “go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.”
“Oh, thank you, sir!” she exclaimed.
Hannah then she went back and began to eat again, and she was no longer sad. The entire family got up early the next morning and went to worship the Lord once more. Then they returned home to Ramah. When Elkanah slept with Hannah, the Lord remembered her plea, and in due time she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I asked the Lord for him” (1 Samuel 1:1-20).
Success – the realisation of that long-cherished dream or goal – is better than going out of your way to execute revenge on your detractors and enemies. And as long as you are a human being worth the name, you have people who lose sleep just because you’re doing well, and who are determined to rub it in when you’re in trouble.
However, you need to know how to handle the taunts and provocations of those who despise or hate you. In Matthew 5:44, the Lord Jesus Christ tells us to love our enemies. Why would one love their enemies? For the simple reason that your enemies and detractors cannot do anything to harm you as long as you stay in your proper place in God, the secret place of the Most High God where you were put when you accepted Christ as your Saviour and Lord (Psalm 91).
I can tell you this much: I have never been harmed by anyone. To the extent that bad things have happened to me, I brought them upon myself through either disobeying the teachings of the Holy Spirit or through sin or through ignorance of the Word. This is why I have no time for grudges because if I keep my proper spiritual form, I’m invincible – no-one can touch me. Glory to God!
Now if we are not to hate our detractors and raise the fight on their earthly level, how are we to handle their taunts – which can often be so painful?
We are to do exactly what Hannah did in the Scriptures above. Instead of trading insults with Peninah, she fought from heaven (Judges 5:20), from the realm of the spirit. This is where we are to win all our battles as children of God. If we don’t win them there, then we won’t be able to manifest the victory that’s ours in Christ Jesus.
Hannah went before God and poured out her heart before Him who alone was able to address her situation. So profound was her praying that the Priest Eli thought she was drunk!
Never waste your pain by trying to hit back when you are provoked or taunted by those who hate or despise you. In fact, while the pain is still acute is the best time to pray for God to change the situation and manifest His manifold grace, for Him to turn your mourning into joy. When the pain is still sharp don’t procrastinate; pray right away because we know from both Scripture and experience that urgent fervent prayers also generate urgent answers. If you postpone the praying, your prayers may be weaker, the pain having eased with time.
This is where fasting comes in. Notice that while Hannah was before the Lord pleading for her barrenness to end, she ate nothing.
Another important point to underscore is this: you don’t pray for evil to befall those hurting you. Think about it, what do you get if your enemy dies or gets harmed in any way? Rather, do like Christ did, of Whom the Apostle Peter wrote that when they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly (1Peter 2:23).
I like the King James rendition of it: “Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed [himself] to him that judgeth righteously.”
You pray for God to change the situation, realising that the devil is directly or indirectly behind every misfortune you’ll ever suffer in this life.
There’s a desperate way of praying that you can only do when the pain is still acute. Look at how Hezekiah prayed in Isaiah 38:1-5. The Prophet Isaiah came with a message from God saying Hezekiah should finalise his will as he would soon die. What would you do in that situation? A respected prophet comes to your house with a message like: “Draft the final details of your will and divide your inheritance, for soon you shall die.” Many would soil their clothes or simply pass out at a prophecy like that. Not so Hezekiah!
The Bible records that he turned his face to the wall and prayed earnestly to God, pleading his case with the urgency the situation demanded. The result? The same God who sent Isaiah changed His mind and told the prophet to return and announce to Hezekiah that God had heard him and would add 15 years to his life. Glory!!! Think again if you’ve always assumed that God cannot or does not change His mind.
There is a type of praying called “turning your face to the wall”. Hezekiah did it literally, but Hannah also did it in a figurative sense. This is where you shut out all of life’s many distractions to focus entirely on God, praying fervently until you hear from Him. Some situations never change until God speaks to you. Don’t say, “God speak to me.” Just pray and pray fervently and desperately until you hear from Him.
On July 6, 2006, God spoke very definitely to me when I had prayed like this at my wife’s rural home. There were things that had bothered me for over a year and during that whole period I experienced satanic torment like at no other time in my walk with God. But that landmark morning, I heard Him clearly and it settled me forever.
As Bishop Thomas Dexter Jakes once said, “He (God) is the only One who can speak a word that will heal your yesterday, secure your today and anchor your tomorrow.” It happened to me that day in Tombo, Nyanga, rural Zimbabwe.
So I’m here to tell you that leave revenge in the hands of God (Hebrews 10:30) and use the pains of life to motivate you to fly higher. Pray with a desperation, quoting to God His own Word and you’ll see the glory of God.
Finally, I’ll leave you with Hebrews 5:7, which says of the Lord Jesus Christ: “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared.”