Why does God provoke us? Christian author, Steven Sampson, provides this great insight in his book “Discerning and Defeating the Ahab Spirt”:
God wanted to bring a prophet into the world, but He had to prepare His instrument. According to the first chapter of 1 Samuel, there was a man named Elkanah who had two wives, Penninah and Hannah. Although Penninah had many children, Hannah had none because the Lord had closed her womb. Her rival, Penninah, began to chide Hannah and provoke her with severe agitation because she had no children. This provoking no doubt was extremely unpleasant, but it caused Hannah to begin to pray passionately for God to give her a child. It drove her to a point of desperation, and she cried out to God. Her desperation became so intense that Eli, the priest, thought she was drunk. But as a result of those desperate prayers, the great prophet Samuel was born, who would fulfill the purposes of God. Note that without the provocation, Hannah would never have prayed with such fervency and passion.
Think about it! If Penninah had not chided, agitated and severely provoked Hannah, then Hannah would not have been driven to the point of desperation and desire. She would not have cried out to God the way she did, and there would have been no prophet Samuel born for the purposes of God. Again, the ultimate manifestation of passivity is a refusal to change. We usually have no motivation to change without God’s help. We need to be provoked because God intends to bring change in our lives “till we all come to the unity of the faith . . . to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).
God loves us too much to let us stay where we are, and too many of us have allowed the Ahab spirit to have a chokehold on our destinies. God is all about change, and to change the way He wants us to, something in us must exhibit a willingness to confront every area the Holy Spirit puts His finger on. As I said at the start, this means we have to be brutally honest with ourselves. We have to boldly pray as David prayed, “Search me, 0 God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).