9 One time, after eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah got up and presented herself before the Lord. (Now Eli the priest was sitting in the chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s temple.) 10 Hannah was very upset and couldn’t stop crying as she prayed to the Lord. 11 Then she made this promise: “Lord of heavenly forces, just look at your servant’s pain and remember me! Don’t forget your servant! Give her a boy! Then I’ll give him to the Lord for his entire life. No razor will ever touch his head.”
12 As she kept praying before the Lord, Eli watched her mouth. 13 Now Hannah was praying in her heart; her lips were moving, but her voice was silent, so Eli thought she was drunk.
14 “How long will you act like a drunk? Sober up!” Eli told her.
15 “No sir!” Hannah replied. “I’m just a very sad woman. I haven’t had any wine or beer but have been pouring out my heart to the Lord. 16 Don’t think your servant is some good-for-nothing woman. This whole time I’ve been praying out of my great worry and trouble!”
17 Eli responded, “Then go in peace. And may the God of Israel give you what you’ve asked from him.”
18 “Please think well of me, your servant,” Hannah said. Then the woman went on her way, ate some food, and wasn’t sad any longer.
19 They got up early the next morning and worshipped the Lord. Then they went back home to Ramah. Elkanah had sex with his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20 So in the course of time, Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, which means “I asked the Lord for him.”
1 Then Hannah prayed:
My heart rejoices in the Lord.
My strength rises up in the Lord!
My mouth mocks my enemies
because I rejoice in your deliverance.
2 No one is holy like the Lord—
no, no one except you!
There is no rock like our God!
3 Don’t go on and on, talking so proudly,
spouting arrogance from your mouth,
because the Lord is the God who knows,
and he weighs every act.
4 The bows of mighty warriors are shattered,
but those who were stumbling now dress themselves in power!
5 Those who were filled full now sell themselves for bread,
but the ones who were starving are now fat from food!
The woman who was barren has birthed seven children,
but the mother with many sons has lost them all!
6 The Lord!
He brings death, gives life,
takes down to the grave, [Hebrew sheol] and raises up!
7 The Lord!
He makes poor, gives wealth,
brings low, but also lifts up high!
8 God raises the poor from the dust,
lifts up the needy from the garbage pile.
God sits them with officials,
gives them the seat of honor!
The pillars of the earth belong to the Lord;
he set the world on top of them!
9 God guards the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked die in darkness
because no one succeeds by strength alone.
10 The Lord!
His enemies are terrified!
God thunders against them from heaven!
He judges the far corners of the earth!
May God give strength to his king
and raise high the strength of his anointed one.
Long before Elizabeth, and like Sarah and Samson’s mother, a childless Hebrew woman named Hannah prayed for a child. She lived in a culture that allowed men to have more than one wife—and she suffered the anguish of being “the childless wife.” She pleaded with God for a son, promised to devote her son to God’s service, and did. Her son was the great Israelite leader and prophet Samuel. She offered a song of praise to God, a poetic prayer much like the praises Elizabeth and Mary later offered.
Lord God, I thank you for each person who helped to point me to your love and goodness. Help me to live in ways that are a positive influence on others. Amen.
3,000 years ago a woman named Hannah longed for a baby, but felt her prayers
weren’t being answered. 15 years ago, I longed for a baby and felt my prayers
weren’t being answered. As Hannah describes, “I was pouring out my soul to the
Lord.” After years of infertility and miscarriage, I was feeling abandoned by
this time, we lived in Ohio and I was invited to a Bible study by a neighbor
who knew my faith was waning. I attended the study for a few weeks before
sharing my struggles and asking for prayers. When I felt safe to get vulnerable
and ask for their prayers, a woman looked at me sternly and said, “This is God punishing
you. What did you do to make God so angry with you?”
never forget the feeling that day of the walls closing in on me and my deep
desire to run away. I felt trapped in a cage of judgment. As I remember it,
all eyes were on me, waiting to hear a confession. We were in a church, but it
didn’t feel holy at all. It felt punishing and inconsistent with the love of
Jesus we were reading about.
that experience, I felt God had abandoned me and I was ready to abandon God.
If these were Christian women, I wanted no part of it. Looking back, I think my
soul made a note to go to seminary that day. It would be ten years before I
enrolled, but I think God used that moment of being a victim of bad theology to nudge me toward seminary, so that I am equipped to teach love.
you are going through, please know there is hope for you. It may not show up as
we are asking or in the timing we prefer, but the pain will end and you will
find peace again. I don’t believe this is God punishing you. I believe you are
walking through something painful and God wants to be with you as a source of
peace, love, and comfort in your pain.
The women that day may have felt they were helping me. Instead they caused me to question God’s love. Our calling is to be an instrument of God’s love, to give people hope, to be a loving presence. It would have been helpful that day if those women had said things like, “I am sorry you are going through this. God is with you. I will pray for you to have peace, no matter the outcome. I will pray for your doctors to know what is best for you. I will pray for your medications to work with your body. I will pray for you to feel God’s presence in your darkest moments. I think you would be a wonderful mother, I hope you get to do that. ”
Let’s be instruments of love and hope, today and every day.
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