|Synagogue, Krakow, Poland|
Last week we left Hannah praying to God at the Tabernacle, the Jewish house of worship. As a woman, she would be allowed to enter through the main gate into the Women’s Court, but no further. It was no doubt here that she found a quiet spot where she could bare her tormented soul to God. She had made a solemn vow to Him, pleading with God to give her a son. In return, she would give him back to serve the Lord in the temple for the rest of his life.
Hannah needed someone to come alongside her and offer that same comfort and reassurance. In her deep grief and loneliness of spirit, she was unaware that someone else had been watching (besides God). Sitting near the temple doorpost was Eli, the priest. Now, at first, Eli mistakenly thought Hannah’s actions indicated she was intoxicated (which was not uncommon during the sacrificial feasts, even for a woman) and he scolded her, “How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine.”[ii]
How many times am I too quick to judge or accuse a person before taking time to listen to their story? When do I need to be more sensitive and put on my “listening ears”, as we often instruct our children and grandchildren to do?
Quick to vindicate herself, Hannah replied she had not been drinking, but was pouring out her anguish and grief to the Lord.
|Point Pleasant Park, Halifax|
Can’t you imagine the sudden change in Eli’s demeanor as he recognized his error in interpreting the situation? “Go in peace,” he answered, “and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of Him.”[iii] I don’t need to know all the details of another person’s circumstances and pain to come alongside them and help bear the heavy burden. Sometimes, the only thing this person needs to know is that I am there for her/him, that I care, and that I am willing to intercede on their behalf, even if the only way I can do that is through prayer (which is really the best way).
I love what happened next! As soon as Hannah had received Eli’s blessing and words of encouragement, “she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.”[iv] Her deep sorrow and pain had been lifted because someone cared enough to listen and share her heavy load of grief.
While listening on Wednesday to the DVD portion of our Beth Moore study on the book of James, she shared that often when we are going through a time of anguish, God brings along a wonderful source of joy (either through a person or circumstance) and replaces the anguish with joy.[v]
That’s exactly what God did for Hannah. Not only did He provide someone to encourage her, but He blessed her with what she had asked for – a son! “She named him Samuel, saying, ‘Because I asked the Lord for him’”.[vi]
Not always has God give me exactly what I asked for, but He has always been faithful in providing what is best for me and what will lead me on a path to greater dependence on Him a and completeness in Christ. Praise His name!
[i] I Samuel 1:13
[ii] I Samuel 1:1
[iii] I Samuel 1:17
[iv] I Samuel 1:18
[v] Beth Moore, Mercy Triumphs, LifeWay Press, 2011, p. 69
[vi] I Samuel 1:20