Regret. Disappointment. It’s easy to look back on life and experience one or both of these and lose all hope that things can be better. We consider the things we could have done differently and become filled with regret – regret over a damaged marriage, wrecked relationships, poor financial decisions, or any area of life where we’d like to have a redo. Maybe there is no regret, but just a gnawing sense of disappointment – that this is all there is, the best is past, and nothing will ever get better. We become disenchanted with our relationships, our parenting, our career track, or our health situation. Whether we find ourselves with regret, disappointment, or both, we may be tempted to give up hope, exposing another blind spot:
Blind Spot #5: Believing that since I have messed up, what I do now doesn’t matter.
This is where we find Samson at the end of Judges 16. Earlier in the chapter, Samson fell in love with a Philistine named Delilah – a woman not of his own faith which was prohibited by God. The Philistines offered Delilah money and fame if she could discover and reveal the source of Samson’s great strength. After several attempts in which Samson misled her, he finally revealed “because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.” (vs.17). While he slept, Delilah had his head shaved. He lost his strength. The Philistines seized him, gouged his eyes, bound him, and sent him to prison. Samson lived a life of poor decisions that culminated in this moment. Samson had really ‘messed up.’ He could have also ‘given up’, but after a life of ignoring the promptings of the Spirit of God, Samson chose another path.
In Judges 16:23- 30, we see the aftermath of Samson’s capture. The Philistines assembled to offer a sacrifice to their god, Dagon and to celebrate the capture of Samson. The brought Samson in to entertain them. Walking blindly, Samson asked to be placed where he could lean against the pillars that supported the temple and then he prayed a simple prayer:
“Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” Judges 16:28
Samson could have looked at his situation and felt there was no hope for him – no way to make a difference. But instead of drawing from his own desire and strength, Samson submits to God in prayer with some very specific and intentionally chosen words that represent who God is:
- “Sovereign” is from the name, Adonai – the One who has the right to rule. Samson was expressing faith in the right of God to choose how to work in this situation. God has the right to be in charge.
- “Lord” is from the name, Yahweh – the One who cares. Samson was acknowledging that God is intentional in initiating a relationship. Despite our actions, God pursues us.
- “God” is from the name Elohim – the One with power. Samson was recognizing that any strength comes only from God. There is nothing he could do on his own.
Samson was declaring that God is all of these: ruling, caring, and powerful. He is all of these. It is easy to see the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament and think that He is different. But He is one and the same. We must grasp that He is a God of holiness and judgment as well as love and mercy. You can’t have one without the other. Until we have a healthy reverence and understanding of who God is, we won’t be able to fully comprehend His grace. When we understand the character of God, suddenly mercy means everything to us. This allows us to see beyond this present life and overcome the great idolatry that our present life – what we have right here and now – is all that matters.
In Samson’s prayer, he also chose specific words that represent what God does:
- “Remember me”
Throughout the Bible, people cried out “remember me.” Hannah was barren and cried out to God. Nehemiah called to God after the people turned on him. After much difficult suffering, Job asked God to remember him. The psalmist called out in pain. The thief on the cross asked Jesus as a prayer for salvation. Jesus himself asked us to remember Him in the sacrament of communion. This is not just a random word of choice. It is a cry to God that He knows exactly where you are and, despite your situation or actions that may not bring God glory, remember your faithfulness. This is a transformational prayer. Instead of a self-directed prayer of “God, please work so I don’t experience pain” it becomes a prayer for God to work in this situation in order to be glorified. God says you can remember who I am and remember what I love to do.
- “Strengthen me”
God is consistently in the business of restoring what is broken and in renewing that which is lost. Adam and Eve were caught in a lie. Noah was found drunk and naked after the landing of the Ark. Abraham lied because he didn’t trust God. Jacob tricked his father. Joseph was presumptuous as a youth. Judah had sex with his daughter-in-law. Moses committed murder. Rahab was a prostitute. Solomon had many foreign wives. The list goes on and on. God used all of these despite their weaknesses. God strengthened them.
God was happy to do something beautiful at the end of Samson’s life. Samson wasn’t given back sight. Samson wasn’t restored to power in this world. The beauty in Samson’s life was dealing with his idol. Samson no longer needed to be in charge. He came under submission to God by praying remember and strengthen me. Samson gave his life for many so God could be glorified. Samson’s action is a foreshadowing of Jesus – the One who lived a perfect life and gave His life for many so that God could be glorified and we can be restored in our relationship with Him.
If you experience the death of a dream, it is not out of God’s hand. Instead of giving up hope, you can have hope. We can overcome our blind spot by remembering who God is and what God does. God delights in doing something beautiful in the midst of your failings or disappointments. No matter where you are or what you have done, God takes joy in demonstrating the fullness of His character as we acknowledge His holiness as we embrace His love and mercy through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf.