Monday, January 18, 2016

Walking In Hannah's Shoes

Imagine with me that you walked the earth over one thousand years before the birth of Christ. As a young girl you dreamed of one day marrying a good man and having a home filled with love and laughter and children.

In time your dream came true. You married a man who loved you and provided a comfortable home. However, you hadn't figured the "other woman." Of course you knew of families where there was more than one wife. She just hadn't been part of your dream.

You tried to make the best of it, knowing how much you were loved. But as the years went by, and the other wife began having children while you remained childless you felt your dream come crashing down around you. Your heart ached to think perhaps you were being punished by God and the unkind words of the other wife wounded your spirit.

The worst times were the annual trips to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to the Lord at the Temple. Your husband would gather the whole family together to make the journey. On the days of the sacrifice the children were given portions of the meat. Then the taunts and jeers from the other wife became unbearable, reducing you to tears. Not even your husband's attempts to console you could ease your pain.

One year, after the sacrificial meal, with the words of ridicule ringing in your ears, you made your way inside the Temple to pray. Bitter tears coursed down your cheeks as you cried out to God for a son - promising to give him back to Him for a lifetime of service if He would only answer your prayer.

As you prayed, the priest Eli stood watching. Your distress, the way your lips moved without uttering a word, made him accuse you of being drunk. Your sensitive heart recoiled at the thought, and you told him about your deep sorrow and your prayer. His heart softened toward you, and he spoke a blessing - asking God to grant your request.

Within the space of a year you gave birth to a son and named him Samuel (heard of God). It isn't difficult to imagine the joy you felt. You held the answer to your prayers close to your heart and gave thanks.

And now, you have a promise to keep. You must take this precious gift from God and give him back - not a figurative act of surrender, but a real giving up of your longed-for son.You keep him with you for a time, until he is weaned.

During those few precious years you haven't made the journey to the Temple with the rest of the family, but this time you go - taking your little son with you. Imagine holding tightly to his little hand as you lead him into the Temple. You present him to Eli, reminding him of the promise you made several years ago. Then imagine, if you can, walking away.

Here is how scripture describes the scene. "Sir, do you remember me?" Hannah asked. "I am the woman who stood here several years ago praying to the Lord. I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request. Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life. And they worshiped the Lord there."I Samuel 2: 26-28

The very next chapter is Hannah's prayer of praise - a prayer very similar to the one prayed by Mary, the mother of Jesus.

It is remarkable, I think, this faith. The Temple wasn't necessarily the best environment for a little boy (We soon learn about Eli's wicked son's.). But Hannah knew her God. She knew He could be trusted. She rested in His unfailing love.

In the years to come, Hannah had other children - three sons and two daughters, but she didn't know she would have more children when she brought Samuel to Eli. She simply trusted the God who loved her.

And Samuel?
He grew in favor with the Lord and with the people and was used mightily by God.

Hannah wasn't birthed in my imagination. She lived and breathed and walked this earth. I'm thankful God shared her story with us. When I'm tempted to worry about the people I love; when I try to control everything around me - she reminds me God is faithful and trustworthy - and filled with lovingkindness. He sees us, when we feel insignificant and small and cares about every detail of our lives. He is good.