Saturday, October 13, 2012
Please allow me to introduce you to my new friend Hannah. Hannah and I hit it off instantly. We didn't meet in the mall at the grocery store. We didn't meet in a class. Oh Hannah and I had crossed paths several times, but it was only recently that we had a very personal encounter together. Can you guess where I found Hannah? I found Hannah in the pages of 1 Sam. 1:1-19 See Text.
I never really imagined that we would have that much in common: but my heart connected with her on a level that I never expected. I will post the Scriptures for you so that you can read her story – well really God's story through her. Since it is rather lengthy though, I thought I would share her story through my own eyes with you. You may find elements or details of her story, which impact you differently than it did me. If this is the case, that's okay. Let me know your thoughts.I sense that there may be some overlap in our impressions. You see, Hannah had battled years of infertility. This is difficult enough, in our own culture today. However, in Hannah’s time: the inability to conceive a child was like wearing a badge of shame across one's chest. To make matters worse, Scriptures is quick to tell us that Hannah's heart's desire was to have a child. She found herself going to God’s House, and earnestly crying out to God to grant her desire. I gather from Scripture, Hannah’s soul was becoming embittered. I wonder if she stayed awake at night wondering what made the other women more worthy of having a child than she was. I wonder if there were nights, that it put a wedge between her and the God she worshiped. Then There was Hannah’s foe that provoked her on her regular basis regarding her inability to conceive. This wasn’t a one time deal, this was something Hannah faced year after year. How unfair does that seem to you? From where I sit that seems pretty unfair to me. In fact, the very idea makes my blood boil. I'm reminded though, that based on later events, the taunts did not go unnoticed by God. I don't think that God's children being ridiculed whether in minor, form or major form, is something God takes lightly. Can you imagine the baggage her rival may have carried to need to provoke Hannah so much? Life isn't fair on earth, sometimes it is better than fair, and sometimes it is nowhere close. One day I believe all the unfairness of life, will make sense to us when we are able to see things from God’s perspective. Isa. 55-9
The priest, who was on duty there at the time, accused Hannah of being drunk, because she was praying so intently in such a distraught state of mind. I smile because it kind of reminds me of the time I burnt the top of our fish tank, because I wasn't watching the candle that was sitting there as I went down my prayer list. Don't you know that Hannah's priest likely felt so small, as a result of his assumption? I can't be too hard on Eli, because I see him in the mirror many times staring me in the face. How many times, do I reflect that attitude of being quick to assume something without knowing all the factors involved in the situation? Can you relate? Sometimes I bet we are all like the priest Hannah encountered. Hannah's husband, though I have no reason to believe that he didn't love her dearly; put salt in her wound by placing a guilt trip on her. He challenged whether or not, he was sufficient to satisfy her instead of her longing for a child. Though, I suspect his rash response was brought on, by his inability to fix the problem for her, it probably wasn't the best form of encouragement to her at that time. In short, Hannah asked God for a son, and promised that if he would answer her prayer, she vowed to dedicate her son to the Lord for his entire life. This wasn't just a formality to her. This would mean she would give up all rights to this child as in she would only see him for short periods of time, and he would not live under the same roof with her. She would not get to develop the routine of seeing his milestones after a certain age. It's interesting to me, that Scripture later says that after she had an intimate time of being in the presence of the Lord talking with him and pouring her heart out to him, she was no longer downcast. Nothing that I can see in Scripture guarantees at that point in time that Hannah would get her prayer answered exactly the way she wanted it. It makes a powerful statement to me that it must have been the act of pouring her heart out to God and sensing his care and awareness that lifted her burden. It wasn't immediately getting her desired outcome, which blessed Hannah the most. It had to be her trust in the fact that her thoughts and feelings mattered to God. I can imagine the relief she felt knowing that she was heard. It was the same relief and hope God extended to me as her story reflected the condition of my own own heart over mattes in my own life. How it must have done her heart good to know that she had the attention of the Almighty God! How it must have ministered to her to know that God did not dismiss her sorrow or ignore her plea. Prayer doesn't always result in the changing of our circumstances, but it almost always invites us to a change in perspective! Hannah's story is one that recently resonated with my heart in so many ways. Hannah got her happy ending, but even if she had not, I believe that based on her character and her willingness to be obedient to God: she would have remained faithful and stayed close to her God! I hope the same is true of us! These were powerful revelations for me!it is my hope that they will be both a comfort and a challenge to you.