HANNAH. A name meaning favor, or grace. Both of which might have seemed further from her when we first meet her in 1 Samuel 1. But God had other plans…

Hannah was the wife of Elkanah. And likely because she was barren, he took, as many men before him, a second wife. This wife had children, and rubbed it in to Hannah every chance she could. Likely because their husband loved Hannah dearly, despite her barrenness.

Each year, they made their way to the temple to offer a sacrifice to God, and every year, this second wife tormented Hannah by reminding her that God had not given her children. This went on for many years, and reached the point where her husband commented, “Am I not enough for you?”

So even going into God’s presence was painful for Hannah, and the one she loved most of earth didn’t understand.

This particular year, the Bible tells us that Hannah went to the temple, inconsolably “crushed in soul.” She began to pour out her broken heart in prayer with her mouth moving but no sound. (I don;t know about you, but if I was that overwhelmed, I would be likely concerned that I might lose it in public and enter hysterics – so I get where she is coming from here.)

The priest on duty, Eli, observed her for a while, decided that she was likely drunk and went to confront her. She defended herself by stating she was praying her heart out, as she was deeply unhappy and in such pain. (She didn’t mention her barrenness, just how it made her feel.)

And then Eli did something unexpected to me, given how he snapped to judgment on her behaviour only a few moments earlier. He sent her out with the expected blessing (Go in peace) but added to it, “May the God of Israel give you what you have asked of Him.”

By faith, Hannah accepted those words as truth. She had not only been seen and heard, but God gave her an answer.

Within a year, Hannah gave birth to a baby boy, naming him Samuel, which means “God heard.” When she returned to the temple the first time, the family gave a costly offering to give thanks. When Samuel was weaned, she gave him back to God to serve Him full time.

An extravagant gift, joyfully returned to its giver.

#SheBelongs #sharingHope

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