October 26: Hannah’s Hope

Read 1 Samuel 1:1-28

Hope: the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. (Google Dictionary)

First Samuel records the account of Hannah. She was a woman who had hope beyond hope that she could bear a child. Hannah made this hope clear to those around her. Her husband knew. Her husband’s other wife (who had borne many children) knew. And each year when Hannah and her husband traveled to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice, Eli the priest knew.

Hannah didn’t just offer up an obligatory prayer. No, she wept in prayer. She poured herself out before God to the point where Eli the priest thought she was drunk! Her response, “Not so, my lord. . . I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:15). Eli softened to Hannah, realizing the depth of her anguish and the height of her hope.

Hannah had what many women did not. Despite her feelings of helplessness, and perhaps uselessness in such a heritage-driven culture, Hannah’s husband accepted and adored her. He asked, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” Well-intentioned as he was, perhaps Hannah’s own husband did not understand her level of distress. But in the emptying of her soul in prayer, Hannah created space for God to fill her with His hope and His joy.

Amidst her red, swollen eyes and gut-wrenching sobs, Hannah raised up a promise to God: “You give me a son, and I will give him back to you.” (Paraphrased from 1 Samuel 1:10-11.)

God heard her cries. A baby boy was born to Hannah (1 Samuel 1:20).

Scripture never alludes to Hannah struggling with the promise she’d made during the height of her emotional state. Still, I can’t help but wonder if Hannah wept again over having to make good on her promise. Once the child, Samuel, was weaned, Hannah dedicated him to the work of the Lord and left him in Eli’s care. Did she, as I would have, take a little longer weaning him? Did she, as I would have, dilly-dally en route to Shiloh to have a few extra moments with the child? Did she, as I would have, weep all over again on the way home? Maybe. Yet Hannah made good on her promise.

She could not deny nor reduce the God who made it happen and the covenant she’d made before the Almighty. Hannah turned all those years of angst to rejoicing (1 Samuel 2:1-10). Hannah’s recipe for hope was to persist in prayer, promise, perform the dedication, and praise.