Wow, I am so happy about having 6 comments on my last post. I am addicted to comments. I like them, so keep them coming!
I wanted to share what I was reading and meditating on today. Over the past few weeks my friend Mary and I have been reading about Hannah, as I previously mentioned. Today I reread Hannah’s story in the Message. If you aren’t too familar with the OT, the story of Hannah is found in the first few chapters of 1 Samuel.
Here’s the deal. Hannah is one of two wives to this guy Elkanah. The other wife, Peninnah, is having babies, but Hannah just isn’t having any. Of course, she is upset, because as I understand it, back then your worth was directly related to your ability to produce offspring. Not only this, but her husband’s other wife, (and that must be a problem all of its own!) always harasses her every time she makes the annual trip to Shiloh to offer sacrafices and worship God. This harassment is so upsetting to Hannah that she can’t even eat! So she can’t have babies, she feels worthless, she has to share her husband with another woman who rubs it in her face every chance she gets that she is having children and not Hannah, when all Hannah is trying to do is worship God on her once a year trip to Shiloh. Geez. So anyway, Hannah becomes so upset that she goes into the temple to pray and she is sobbing. I guess she is in there for quite a while. Her lips are moving but she is praying silently, and so the priest thinks she’s drunk! So he basically asks her to get out of there, and she gently and respectfully lets him know that she’s overwhelmed with grief and is praying for God to give her a son. She actually prays that if God gave her a son she would 100% dedicate him to God. I don’t mean just like, “Yeah, he’s from God, I acknowledge that.” I mean, she would give him up for God. After all these years of desire for a son and then telling God that if he actually gave her one, she would give him right back.
So, I know this is getting kind of long, longer than I intended, but you gotta know Hannah’s background if you are going to truly appreciate what I wanted to share (and before any of you get ahead of yourself, no I’m not having a baby or anything like that). So anyway, guess what. HANNAH GETS PREGNANT! All these years she has been barren, but she has been faithful and she asked God and He gave it to her! But think of how long she must’ve wanted a son, and how painful it must’ve been month after month without conceiving, meanwhile your husband’s other wife is jeering you every chance she gets as she just keeps popping out babies left and right.
So she has the baby and she names him Samuel which means “I asked God for him.” And just after he is weaned (so probably around 3-years-old at that time) she takes him up to Shiloh, and offers a bull, some flour and wine to God, and then leaves her child there with the priests, because she promised that her son would be God’s.
And then this is what she prays!
“Hannah prayed: I’m bursting with God-news! I’m walking on air.
I’m laughing at my rivals. I’m dancing my salvation.
Nothing and no one is holy like God,
no rock mountain like our God.
Don’t dare talk pretentiously—
not a word of boasting, ever!
For God knows what’s going on.
He takes the measure of everything that happens.”
This is only the beginning of her prayer, but this is what struck me the most. First, “bursting with GOD-news”, I know what that feels like and I liked the way the Message translation said it. But more importantly, “Nothing and no one is holy like God… for God knows what’s going on.”
I am just so surprised at how happy she is after she gives up the son that she wanted for so long. She is bursting with the God-news then? I’d be bursting with it when I found out I was having a baby, or when I had the baby, but when I had to give him up? I’m not so sure. But Hannah is such a faithful, strong woman. It doesn’t say it straight-out like that in the text, but you can see it with how she carries herself. She doesn’t have a cat-fight with Peninnah, she doesn’t complain to anyone, she brings it all to God and prays in bitterness of soul. She follows through with her promise because she knows that nothing and no one is holy like God. She knows that God knows what’s going on in this life. She knows he gives and takes away. She knows that God is there, taking care of her, and she’s a part of something larger!
And then Samuel, of course, goes on to be this great prophet, and blesses so many other people.
I just know how hard it is to be in the struggles of life and to want something and not have any answers yet. And it feels like God isn’t really looking at your situation, or maybe it feels like he’s even forgotten about you. But really, he’s got this whole plan in the works, and he knows what’s going on, and you might even get more than you asked for… Hannah ends up having three more sons and two daughters!