Afflictions are necessary

 I have given this  semon a following title: „ Afflictions are necessary to fulfill the will or plan of God“.

And that’s why we bow our heads and pray: „Dear Heavenly Father send, reveal and share with us from Your word so we could go ahead in the light of Your revelations in the name of Jesus Christ from Nazareth we pray this morning! We pray that Your word would guide and help us, make us strong and carry us forward that we would bear much fruit with Your word and that we would never be found without Your word, because You don’t stand so much behind us but You always stand behind Your Word and if Your Word is in our hearts then we can boldly say that God is with us and we pray for Your blessing upon everyone who listens to this sermon. We pray that the same things would be also in their lives.“

 The story of Hannah is a very famous, an educative and a needful story for you. I believe that today you will learn very much.

There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite  from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.  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. ( 1 Samuel 1:1-5)

Look very carefully this last verse! The LORD had closed Hannah’s womb so she would have no children. Remember God did this and not satan. Here we can see that satan can not close a womb. Only if you have given him ground by living in sin or rebelling against God can he put a sicknesses into your life.

And because the LORD had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. ( 1Sam 1:6)

This family believed that their future and success depended on God not on satan. I hope that all Christians would believe that their prosperous future depends on God because then it is easier for you to believe in God. Are you listening to what I’m telling you? If you believe that your future and prosperous future depends on God then you will start to seek Him. You are then forced to believe in Him. It’s a blessing to you! Don’t believe in satan or in curse but believe in God.

Peninnah knew very well that all keys are in the hands of the Lord and that’s why she began to offend her. Here we can see satan and his usual tactics. He knows that everything is under God’s control that there is a plan of God for your life he would like to intervene somehow but he cannot and then he will start to mock you, bring shame upon you and slander you so you also wouldn’t believe that all the keys are in the hand of God.

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. ( 1Sam 1:7)

You became a Christian found out all about the blessings of God and see what happened. These real and desired blessings didn’t come into your life but a heap of problems instead. Yes, you know that you are born again, you were baptized with water and with the Holy Spirit you decided to follow God to preach the gospel and all this works if you follow all these things but in your personal life, things that you need to solve there are no answers in these spheres of life and more likely you see provocations there. Everything is kind of okay but something is always lacking and this goes on from year after year.

Oh, God what to do then? How to behave? The story of Hannah will give you a clear project and remember that the Holy Spirit is always the project manager.

Listen carefully what I am saying. Soon we will come to solutions and you can see why these things are in your life.

Elkanah her husband would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” (1 Sam 1:8)

Isn’t it like this in our life? Jesus Christ is your Lord, He lives in your heart but it can be that your physical body is not healthy; it can be that you are in debts, you have family problems, things not okay in the work, you have bad relationship with people and you are sad because of it. Things do not go the way you want them to and then God comes and tells you: “Why are you sad?  Why do you have problems? I am the Only God, I’m better than all your problems and needs! Why are you downhearted? “

I ask you today: “Why are you downhearted?” You know why Hannah was sad? She was unhappy because she didn’t know what was going on. She didn’t know why these difficulties are in her life. She thought that she was guilty, because satan blamed, mocked and humiliated her and she didn’t know what was going on. She was downhearted.

Listen! God is your Comforter! Jesus Christ before He went to heaven said: “I will send you the promise of God – the Spirit of truth, the Comforter! He will guide you in every question in all the truth. He will give you the solutions!”

That’s why today I tell to you who are downhearted and slandered. You have the Holy Spirit Who consoles and comforts you. Who lets you know the truth of the Lord that you are very-very needful to God. You are not alone in this world. All good Christians are like you. You must go through this and start to believe in God.

Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the LORD’s temple. In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD.  (1 Samuel 1:9,10)

She was looking for answers. She eagerly desired to have a son and bear fruit.

If you seek God today and you really want to bear fruit in Christ then look what you need to do first.

You need to start to look for the One Who can bless you. Do you know Who can bless a person in a godly way? It’s God.

Start to pray to God. Don’t become embittered. Don’t be sad all the time! Start to pray to God. Open all your desires to God. Let Him know them with thanksgiving. Don’t walk in sadness anymore. Throw the spirit of depression off of yourself in the name of Jesus.

And she made a vow, saying, “O LORD Almighty, if You will only look upon Your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget Your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” (1 Samuel 1:9,11)

God wants you to make a vow before He will bless you. Imagine if she had given birth right away after wedding. She would have never reached this a very hard situation where seemed to be no answers. Seems that everyone else is blessed but I have been forgotten. Why my problems do not get solved? Why my need is growing all the time?

It’s only to teach you to turn to your Fountain and that you would understand that it is the only way you will cling unto God. Difficulties are needed in the life of a Christian so you would understand the will of God and fulfill it.

I believe you agree with me that if she would have become pregnant right after the wedding there would have been no need for these prayers and vows. Scarcely would she have given prophet Samuel to Eli to raise him up.  We ourselves raise our children and know how to do it. Our parents have raised us. God bless our parents but we know very well where it took us so that the Lord Jesus Christ needs to re-raise us again through the Holy Spirit. The first thing where you need to turn with your unsolved problems is not the bank or to the people. Turn to God, pray and give Him vows that God, if You bless and help me then I will give You back what You have given me.

God if You bless me with money then I vow that I will pay the tithes and bring offerings. Do you remember who vowed this to God in the bible? Jacob did it. He was in trouble and in hardships. Brother wanted to kill him. He had no future. His character was garbage and he prayed to God: “God, if You make me rich I will pay tithe!”

Do you see why difficulties and distresses were in the life of Jacob? So he would see his weakness, the absurdity of the human flesh and would see the Fountain, the Creator, the Helper, The One Who holds everything, Who opens a door that no one can close, Who closes so no one can open, Who is Alfa and Omega. Remember our God is a good, an amazing, astonishing, glorious and mighty God. God Who comforts, protects and helps you. He is the God who destroys our enemies. He is our Heavenly Father a good God. You must find it out. You must know what God wants from you and remember that due to these hardships Hannah learned to pray and give vows to God, and fulfill them.

She understood Who is the One that holds all keys, the One controls all circumstances.

As she kept on praying to the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk (1 Samuel 1:12, 13)

We can see here that she poured her soul and heart out before God. She opened her heart. Pure in heart will see the Lord. It’s utterly important that God would look on you. You must pour your heart out and open your heart, but this means that your heart needs to be pure. If your heart is dirty then it’s impossible to open your heart. You are afraid and you don’t do it to the end. That’s why all your thoughts and carnal desires must die.

Tell me wasn’t Hannah’s desire humanly normal? Of course but before she could gain this from God this desire had to die in her life. She had to recognize God as her Resource and God’s priority, will and plan to yet unborn Samuel.

Oh, God it’s mine I won’t give it to anyone. That’s how we usually react. This means that you don’t admit God’s right and plan over your life but Hannah through difficulties and afflictions learned this. She understood this and she decided to do it.

There was a high priest Eli. The biggest damage to all the Body of Christ and the world is a carnal priest or a man of God who walks in flesh. I call them slaughter men. They are men who skin you alive.

How do I know that Eli was carnal or a slaughter man?

And said to her, “How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine.” (1 Sam 1:14)

 But we know that in this story Hannah didn’t take even a drop of it.

“Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD. (1 Sam 1:15)

What hinders your prayer answers? It’s your unclean heart. There is nothing that God would hold back from you but He wants you to learn something.

Dear Heavenly Father, forgive us that we have blamed You in vain, have condemned ourselves and have laid many things off to satan. You notice a pure heart. Forgive us that we have not come near to You with completely pure and sincere hearts. Cleanse us! God we want to learn that if our hearts are clean then we can pour everything out of ourselves and give over to you in sincerity and with a right motive. We know that You answer to us. We thank You that You have just blessed us in the name of Jesus! Amen!

Hannah fearlessly poured her heart out to priest Eli. She told how she really lived. Sometimes the way you live and the things you do cannot stand light at all. You are afraid to tell about it to anyone but Hannah lived a righteous and a holy life. She could anytime tell to the priest what she thought and how she lived. How are the things with you?  Do you understand now why you have no prayer answers? Do you understand why you suffer because of your sin?  Do you understand now why your ways are crooked?  Do you understand now why you are two-faced? Because you can not pour your heart out and God will not answer to the prayers of people whose hearts are unclean and who live an amphibian lifestyle – today in the water tomorrow on the solid ground. But Hannah fearlessly opened her heart to priest Eli, because she knew that the Source is not a priest Eli but God.  The Lord had closed her womb. Look, who is writing this story? It’s her son who wasn’t born then when she spoke these words to priest Eli. It is a story of one family – Elkanah, two wives, high priest Eli, Samuel who was later a great blessing to Israel. He was so pleasing to God that there was no war in the time of Samuel. Also through prophet Samuel God began the royal lineage but Samuel was not born yet. Samuel wrote a story about his mother, father and himself.

Do not take your servant for a wicked (“vicious” in Estonian bible) woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”(1 Samuel 1:16)

What did Hannah receive from the priest? She received bitterness and accusations. She said: “Don’t take me as a vicious servant.”  What if the pastor of the church would think of your as a vicious woman?  Oh, God keep us from these butchers.

Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” (1. Sam 1:17)

They are cunning and manipulative also. Why do I say that? I know it exactly. If you had walked in the Spirit you would have never thought this way about Hannah. You would have known why she was praying like that because once in your life you also made this kind of a decision. You decided to pray and follow God, to find Him and you began to pray, seek and you found Him. You knew that you had to die to yourself.  That’s why you would have known what Hannah was doing. And now when Hannah revealed unto him what she was doing Eli clearly understood that Hannah did the right thing. And he took this what he didn’t want to do himself and said: “Yes! Yes! Yes! Exactly! The Lord will answer to your prayers!” We know that in the end the Lord didn’t answer to his prayers but took from him the eternal covenant. Why? It was because Eli refused to open his heart unto Him. He didn’t do what God told him to. He didn’t control his sons who did enormous obscenities.

So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the LORD for him.” (1.Sam 1:20)

Samuel in Hebrew means “a prayer”. God wants you to become a prayer person and if you in prayer pour your heart before God then you also have a chance that God will answer to your prayer whether you pray for yourself, for your family, for the church. Your prayer life can affect even the fate of your republic. Start to do what Hannah did and she received her Samuel.

I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of Him.  So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” And he worshiped the LORD there. (1.Sam 1:27,28)

Very important in the life of a Christian is that a Christian would fulfill his promises what he promised to God when he was in difficulties.

You have to fall into afflictions to give vows and that is a blessing of God for you. As I once again accentuate – afflictions are needed so you would be cleaved to, even welded into God that you would melt with Him and understand that you are one with God because if greater is the One that is inside of us how can you believe something else then? How can you think differently from Him?  How can you behave contrariwise?

Understand now why difficult situations or afflictions occur in our lives. And when they come we think oh God, now what happened!! God, it’s bottomless! No solutions! Why? And why it’s still going on!?

Look how long time it took in Hannah’s life. From one year to another. And if the story would end like this without the birth of Samuel then it’s of course a tragic and a sad story. We would have no examples to follow. But we can see now that after these severe trials, destitution and derision the new day dawned were God’s sun-rays broke through the cloudy sky and in the end the wind of the Holy Spirit blew away the fiercest clouds and the promises of God, His plan and will for Hannah were fulfilled.

Samuel a great prophet and a big blessing for Israel was born.

How about you? You and your children can become a great blessing for our country and nation. You must understand that difficulties in the life of a Christian are unavoidable, inescapable to fulfill the plan of God in your life.

Remember Jonah. God sent him with a message to the city called Nineveh. The message was: ”Repent and receive the love of God!” First of all he had to say: ”Repent!”  Jonah didn’t want to say that because Jonah thought that the king is not interested in this.

He looked with carnal eyes and went to the opposite direction, then an accident happened to him  and to those who surrounded him. We know that the ship that he travelled to the opposite direction lost all it’s goods. They lost all their plans to become more rich and prosperous. I believe that today you will get a pretty strict punishment if you drive  in the opposite direction. If you do not fulfill the will of God in your life then you sow seeds of curse around you it doesn’t matter that you are born of God or sent out by Him.  And even if Jonah in the end made the right decission. He decided to leave the sanking ship  so  where did he go?  He went into the place where he never wanted to be in. He ended up in the stomach of a big fish.  There was an utter darkness. Do you want to live for sometime in the utter darkness with no electrical lights, no hope and you have no idea where you are and how to get out? But then in the affliction Jonah remembered the Creator again and the only way out was God.

Praise God that there was no bank or humanbeing to hope in except only God. Jonah began to pray to God and after he had poured his heart out during these three days the fish spat him out and of course he went into Niniveh and proclaimed there the the message of  repentance,  the king of course accepted it and the whole city had mercy for 40 more years.

If you go and preach the gospel to all creation without fear and in boldness as the Lord Jesus has called you and sent you out. Proclaim: „Repent because the kingdom of God is at hand! Lord Jesus Christ is coming back soon!“ Then remember that many will repent that’s why we preach the gospel that’s why we travel and spread the holy word.

We know that because Eli didn’t correct his sons and didn’t stop their unclean action in the temple God nullified the eternal covenant that he had made with him and allowed a curse to come over Eli and his offspring.  I believe that Eli loved his children more than God. He didn’t spoke the word of God to His children he was too tender hearted. Why? Because he didn’t pour out his heart in prayer before God. He didn’t understand why there were difficulties in his life. He didn’t understand that afflictions are like bridges to receive what God has planned for you and for me. Without it it’s not possible. No Christian has ever been able to live without them.  I believe that in difficulties and only afflictions  force a human being to turn to God for help  and that’s the way you grow into God. You learn to believe in Him and that is the only way how to put all your trust in God.

5 years after I had received Jesus Christ I smoked cigarettes. When I became a believer and I heard that God sets people free from all kind of vice and evil I immediately turned to God saying: “Oh, God, hallelujah! Set me free from tobacco!”  Right after prayer I really felt that I was free but after sometime I saw how my hand almost invisibly took a box of cigarettes and I smoked again.  I didn’t want to smoke and I prayed again to God: “Oh God, what’s wrong!” There was no answer.  Years passed by and this tobacco didn’t leave my life I was really getting tired of this. Finally, right before God set me free I smoked about 40 cigarettes a day.

Before I took a cigarette I asked God: “Forgive me, I can’t help it I have to light a cigarette. When I threw it away I said: “Oh, God forgive me that I smoked again!” Imagine I began with one prayer and ended with 80 prayers per day. That was only because of cigarettes. I had learned something. I poured my heart out before God. And one moment God set me free from smoking, many-many years have passed by and until this moment I have never smoked again.

My story is very much like Hannah’s or what? I also had a heart desire to be free and I encourage you that if you have problems, if you have different kind of vices in your life then start to pray to God. Pour our heart out and don’t give up if it won’t happen right away.

Know that God is good and He will help and bless you because He has all the power and He controls every situation. If you won’t give up you will always win! Remember that and never forget it!

Now let’s look at persons in New Testament and see how afflictions raised them and helped them to fulfill the will of God.

Let’s look first of all the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. We all know the story about the birth of Jesus. He was not born in a five star hotel He was born in a barn. If you look in a human way then this could not have been the will of God. It doesn’t seem like a birth of the Son of God.  The richest people in the world live in 5 star hotels how then I poor believer who has received from God a heavenly noble rank, blessed with the Holy Spirit have a lack over here, pain over there and so on.. The same thing happened with the Lord Jesus Christ! Some time later Herod began to kill small children.  They had to flee with Mary and Joseph into Egypt. Oh, such a human story nothing godly there. Why they had to flee?  Because it is written: “I will call My Son from Egypt!” You don’t know what is written about you. If you fall into afflictions, difficulties, destitution then start to pray to God: “God, I don’t know what is written about me!  Out of what gutter You call me but I want to fulfill Your will in the name of Jesus. I don’t know why I have to go through these afflictions but one thing I know that in difficulties I can draw near to You through prayer and with an open heart! I will identify myself with You and Your Word!”

Let’s continue to look at the life of Jesus! When He was 12 he stepped out in the temple and proclaimed the mysteries of God to spiritual men that surrounded him.  Yes, they called themselves clergy of Israel and however He was not received with open heart and joy.  No one began to follow Him in His teaching and 18 more years passed by before He entered into ministry in His church service and said: “The Spirit of the Lord has anointed Me to proclaim Good Tidings to the whole creation!”   We know that in one of His meetings there was a man with a withered hand. He said: “Stretch your hand!” and the man with a withered hand stretched his hand. I don’t know what part of your body is withered but God says: “Stretch your withered hand to Me so I can heal it!”

He had to stretch that what was not possible to stretch. How about you! Oh, I’m so poor, small, bad, no-good. No one loves me and needs me. Oh. This is not from God! This man with a withered hand didn’t think like that! He believed that the One Who stood before him is the Son of God. I think that this man didn’t feel anything special at that point but he just stretched out that what was impossible to stretch! Miracle happened and when that hand stretched it was already whole because it’s not possible to stretch a withered hand.

After that no one carried Jesus on their hands crying: “Look what a miraculous doctor is in our congregation!” Today there are soothsayers, healers and witches so popular that they are carried in their hands. They make TV-shows and write articles about them and the word of God has been fulfilled that world loves it’s own. They wanted to kill Him instead – that’s an affliction.

What did He do? Did He began to cry with a loud voice, sigh, crumble: “Father is this really the part I have to fulfill?!” No, it’s written He found and empty place and began to pray! How is it with you? You look for a corner and start to drink. Isn’t it so? How many times things have been like that? We have ran to home in a hurry, closed the door and been crumpy with everyone.

He didn’t do that. He began to pray to God poured His heart out and said: “Oh, God I know that afflictions are your will! In prayer I will join You and emerge with You. I will pour My heart out!”

Do you understand what I’m saying?  You can read His story.

One affliction followed another. He was mocked even in the cross He was told: “Step down if you are the Son of God!” I know that then satan understood that he had made a mistake but it was too late!

End your weepy lifestyle and understand why difficulties and afflictions have come into your life or are on the way to you. They come to produce something very good to you. They come to purify your faith, to teach you to turn to your Source and live in a new manner and  in a new way.

Look at the life of Apostle Paul! He met personally with Jesus. Have you met Him the way Apostle Paul met Him? Of course not! He saw Him glorified, in all His holiness and he heard with his physical ears Lord Jesus speaking with him.  What happened after that? He was blind. In the New Testament when a blind man met with God he began to see. I tell you woe to you if you are a seer on your own. Remember that then you will become blind. I don’t know what Paul was supposed to think. Oh, what a blessing I’m blind! Praise God! What did he do? He shut the door after him prayed and fasted 3 days to God. No peep from his mouth came against God. No contradicting word until brother Ananias came and he received his sight.

Look at John and Peter. When they went to the evening prayer they healed a cripple man. It would be logical for the society to welcome these men with open arms however the political directorate seized them, threatened them and told them that they cannot preach in the name of Jesus rather than to bless them.

If you look now the end of Apostle John’s life then he who was the closest disciple to Jesus ended his life in a prison camp but thanks to it he could receive the book of revelation.

I thought that when Lord Jesus Christ told His disciples to go into the upper room and wait for the promise of the Lord I wondered why there were no attacks against them then. I think that satan didn’t know what the promise of the Father meant. He couldn’t take a standpoint. He didn’t know what was about to happen. Just like in the case of Hannah, because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb and satan could do no monkey business there. He was not the author of this monkey business. All he could do was mock. And now he was in the same situation. He didn’t know what was going on, but when he saw what happened and he saw the result that they went boldly into the streets of the city and proclaimed the gospel then he resisted, threatened, beat, forbade, stood against them.

Remember that afflictions in your life will make you a human being but if you don’t understand it then you give up and in the end you will be unsuitable, of no use and God will finish His covenant relations with you. He will break the covenant.

Let’s pray: “Dear Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ from Nazareth. We are today before You and thank You that we have heard the sermon from Your revealed word and we thank You that we understood why and what for are afflictions and difficult situations in the life of a Christian. We thank You that we understood it clearly as we read and watched the story with Hannah, the life of Jesus Christ and the new birth of other saints. We saw that the main and primary thing that they did when afflictions came into their lives was that they began to pray. Forgive us that we have prayed so little.  This means that we have tried to solve our situations in a human way and with our own strength. Hoping for Your mercy, but Your mercy means that we start to pray that we cleanse our hearts, then pour our pure heart out before You in other words we start to live totally other life in a new manner, in a godly way. We also saw that we can never give up and this battle can go on for years and years. In the life of Jacob it went on for more than 20 years and he didn’t give up. Also we saw from the life of Jesus that our Lord Jesus had difficult situations and afflictions all the time but we saw also that He prayed and with the help of the Holy Spirit He solved all situations brilliantly. Also we saw from the lives of apostles that constantly a hardship followed a hardship but with surrender and prayer You gave them a way out. And we thank You Father that everything in our lives is under Your control and with afflictions and temptations You will prepare a way of escape for us. You will not allow the devil to tempt us more than we can pray and apostle Paul when he went through a real school of life he said that help will always come on the right time and we thank that our help will come to us in the right time. For our flesh it might not seem to be the right time but Father for You it is always a right time.

We want to have our hopes in You. We worship and praise, honor and glorify You that all situations in our life, all our needs we can give in the name of Jesus into Your hands. And whoever listen to this sermon and are tired of solving the situations on their own then on the basis of the word of God let God know your needs. Pray to Him, believe in God and thank Him for the answers. And if you remain in faith then soon the blessings of God will befall on you. In the name of Jesus Christ! Father we thank You! Amen!”


Paul Armand