We start the new year with a very familiar story.
What can we learn from Hannah? And how does that relate to us as we start this year?
Hannah’s Desire & Dedication of Samuel
Not being able to bear a child was already bad enough already. But to suffer the taunting of another woman… this was certainly adding oil to fire.
What would you do in Hannah’s situation?
When it comes to responding to criticism and unpleasant circumstances of life, the example of Hannah is certainly worthwhile for us to learn from.
In no way do we see Hannah retaliating against Peninnah.
I recalled back in my school days – now this was a long, long time ago – but the memory of this still rankles and I am ashamed to admit that I was very un-Hannah like.
I was playing football and being on the under-tall side for my weight, I was playing as a striker (so that I don’t have to run too much). The opposing goal-keeper was one of my best friends. But during that game, he kept taunting me… calling me names that made fun of my corpulence (ok… fat… I was fat… and still am today).
Anyway, I was getting progressively angry and when a long ball came in and he tackled me from behind, I snapped and punched him in the stomach.
Immediately I regretted my actions. But I did not apologize. And after more than 35 years, the memory of that incident still makes me shameful.
Though Hannah was hurt and humiliated, she remained hopeful and faithful.
In God’s timing, her sorrow was turned to joy.
What struck me was her strong desire to have a son when she did not have one.
Many of us have things we want. But our desire (not the lustful kind) for these things very often are not reflected in our actions.
Hannah hurried to the tabernacle. Hannah poured her heart out to God. Hannah made a vow to God.
And what made it even better was that Hannah’ desire was not just for herself.
Yes, she wanted a son badly.
But when she had the son, she dedicated it to God totally.
Despite knowing that she will give up he long-desired first born son, Samuel’s birth gives Hannah great joy. If we jump a little into tomorrow’s passage (1 Sam 2:1-10), we will see the joy she had and the prayer she made in response to the birth of Samuel. Hannah’s prayer was addressed to God and reflected her praise and thanksgiving.
It seemed rather strange that after desiring for a child so much, she would now be so willing to give him to God for Him to use.
How many of us would do that?
This reminded me of what Elder James said….
You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
~ James 4:3
Many a times our prayers are for our own selfish desires. And that is why we do not receive what we asked for.
Hannah prayed for a child. But she wanted this child to be used by God.
And this son was instrumental in turning Israel from its self-indulgent mentality into a powerful nation that once again had a godly leader and received abundant blessings from God.
As we make our prayers for the year ahead, let us learn to ask for the right things.