Wednesday, November 24, 2021

My Story Matters: Hannah (a Thanksgiving Challenge)

This past week, I’ve been reflecting on the story of Hannah as passed down to us in the book of 1 Samuel (chapter 1-2). 

If ever there is a character that emphasizes Thanksgiving, Hannah does! 

“Easy” does not describe Hannah’s life -

She longed for a child, yet remained barren.

Only a woman who has known such great emptiness feels what she felt.

I’ve journeyed with friends through this valley of darkness, yet very little lifts the soul when the want is great and the womb is empty. 

On top of this great grief, her “rival (1 Samuel 1:16),” Peninnah, ridicules her, torments her, heaps grievous provocation upon her. 

The written text tells us it was simply to “irritate Hannah,” and the word used in Hebrew informs us that Peninnah’s words thundered with enough trouble to make Hannah fret greatly.  

In fact, one of the definitions describes Hannah as “violently agitated.”

So, it is no wonder, when Hannah, Peninnah, and Elkanah (their husband) traveled to Jerusalem to go up to the house of the Lord, Hannah fell before the Lord in His holy temple, praying a prayer of deep distress, weeping bitterly.

As she prayed, she poured out her heart. 

As she poured out her heart, she begged the Lord to look upon her with favor, blessing her with a son. 

With the prayer, came a vow (a sacrificial offering), rising up from deep within her… 

"If you will give to your servant a son, then I will give him back to the Lord all the days of his life… (1 Samuel 1:11).”

Of course, the priest (Eli) observing from his seat at the doorpost of the temple, mistook her anguished praying as drunkenness (so wish we could stop and talk about this), and confronted Hannah. 

Once she explained her situation, Eli responded… 

“Go in peace, the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made (1 Samuel 1:17).” 

Hannah believed Eli’s words as if coming directly from the Lord Himself.

SHE BELIEVED....As if His will for her to have a son were already DONE in Heaven! 

She washed her face, ate a meal, and her face was no longer sad (Hannah believed....and she responded similarly). 

Because God spoke, her depressed soul lifted and she was filled with THANKSGIVING.

In due time, a son was born to Elkanah and Hannah; and Hannah fulfilled her vow.

Samuel, the child, we know grew up in the temple, and the Jewish world came to know a faithful prophet of the Lord. 

The answer to Hannah’s prayer is nothing short of a miracle. 

That God chooses to listen to His servants who cry out to Him is still nothing short of a miracle. 

The answer may not always be “yes.” 

But, that He gives a nod to us as we pray is pretty incredible!

Seriously, from Hannah we learn that every answer to prayer is a blessing...simply because the God of the Universe bends down to hear our cries (see Psalm 40:2)! 

Hannah’s prayer of thanksgiving, which came upon fulfillment of her promise, expresses exactly how our hearts should respond to the blessings God heaps on us, the prayers He answers, and the care with which He lavishes His love and grace upon us. 

That God answered her prayer and allowed her to fulfill her sacrifice to Him, caused her no small amount of rejoicing....and THANKSGIVING!

Read Hannah's words (quoted from The Message, 1 Samuel 2:1-4, 9b) and may they become for us an example of our own expression as we dwell upon the Goodness of God, and His outpouring of the MIRACULOUS, in our lives this Thanksgiving:

"I’m bursting with God-news!

I’m walking on air...

I’m dancing my salvation.

Nothing and no one is holy like God;

No rock mountain is 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…

No one makes it in this life by sheer muscle!"

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