Bible stories of hope: Hannah - by James Archer
Bible stories of hope is a series comprising a reading about someone's encounter with God, some notes about how they may have seen it, and a prayer.
Reading – 1 Samuel 1:9-18
Now Eli the priest was sitting on a chair near the entrance to the LORD’s house. Hannah was so sad that she cried and prayed to the LORD. She made a promise, saying, “LORD all-powerful, see how sad I am. Remember me and don’t forget me. If you will give me a son, I will give him back to you all his life, and no one will ever cut his hair with a razor.”
While Hannah kept praying, Eli watched her mouth. She was praying in her heart so her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “Stop getting drunk! Throw away your wine!”
Hannah answered, “No, sir, I have not drunk any wine or beer. I am a deeply troubled woman, and I was telling the LORD all about my problems. Don’t think I am an evil woman. I have been praying because I have many troubles and am very sad.”
Eli answered, “Go! I wish you well. May the God of Israel give you what you asked of him.”
Hannah said, “May I always please you.” When she left and ate something, she was not sad any more.
Trust a man to get completely the wrong end of the stick when emotions are involved! Eli, the representative of God, can’t tell the difference between a heart being poured out to God and a raving drunk! But once he realised his mistake, even Eli saw that God was at work, and joined in on a prayer which would bring the breath of God to move his people out of the doldrums.
Three thousand years later, Hannah’s story is incredibly contemporary. Being unable to have children may no longer be a source of stigma in Western cultures, but it remains a cause of great anguish and damage to relationships. There are so many people in our society for whom this is a life-dominating issue.
What does Hannah do? She pours out her heart to God. She slips out of the house to go to the house of God and finds a quiet place where she can talk to God directly. This wasn’t standard practice – normally it was the priest who talked to God on your behalf – but Hannah was so desperate that she broke through the barrier of tradition.
Do you talk to God in that sort of way? Do you crave his presence like Hannah did? Will you follow her example and be real with God?
After doing business with God, Hannah was not sad any more. She had faith that the Lord All-powerful had heard her. She hadn’t heard any special voice, or received any special promise. She didn’t know whether she would have a baby or not. But she did know that she was loved by God, and that made all the difference.
Lord God, thank you that I can talk directly to you. Let me tell you the things that really matter to me, and please use your all-powerful love to make a difference to them. Amen
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