|Synagogue, Krakow, Poland|
“Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard.”[i] There have been many times in my life when my soul was in such anguish that all I could do was pray in silence. Often, only tears have been offered up when words were lost to me. It is in those times that I remember the comforting promise of Romans 8:26, “…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”
Just last week a woman shared this with me, “I remember times when dealing with infertility that I felt I just couldn’t ‘pray about it’ anymore. I had taken it to the Lord and prayed about it so much…I felt guilty about those feelings. But many years later I was sharing this in a Bible study and a dear lady said to me, ‘That is o.k. You just let the Holy Spirit and other people intercede on your behalf.’ What great relief and peace that gave to me!”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.
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.
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).
|Point Pleasant Park, Halifax|
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!
As I’ve been writing this, a Gospel song has been singing in my head, “Tears are a language God understands” by Gordon Jensen. If you don’t know it, or want to review the words, follow the link below. It will bless your heart as it does mine![vii]
Until next Sunday,
[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