Hannah's Prayer

1 Samuel 1:2
He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.

Hannah had no children.

Year after year, Peninnah persistently irritated Hannah about the fact that she had no children. She provoked her until Hannah broke down and cried.

Isn’t that sad? Not only was Hannah not able to bear children, but she was also tortured by the one woman who could provide sons for their husband. She had the love of her husband, but she that didn’t solve her problem. She was frustrated with the fact that there wasn’t anything she could do to fix her problem.

So she prayed.

She prayed so fervently and with such anguish that she got the attention of Eli the priest. He told her to go and God would give her what she wanted. She immediately believed God would do it.

I think a lot of Christians do that kind of praying. We try to be patient and endure whatever may come. Then when we get so frustrated by our inability to get what we feel we should have, we fall on our face and pray to God.

I wonder what would happen if we’d listen to God earlier in the scenario. Does God wait until we’ve cried our last tear before he acts? I don’t think so.

I don’t think we see things the same way God does. Maybe he waits on us to act on our faith. Maybe he wants to see if the thing we want is going to be ahead of him in our list of priorities. Maybe he waits for us to throw away the arrogant notion that it was our idea to want the thing.

When we get to the point that it has to be God making it happen, we can never claim the gift as our own creation. We can never own the miracle. It’s God’s hand at work, not ours.

We are his children, after all. He knows our tendencies and weaknesses. Some of us generally lean toward self-sufficiency. I think God tries to do what is necessary to keep our attention on him.

He wants to help us achieve success, but we have to wait for God’s plan. He sees things we don’t see. That includes pitfalls as well as successes. He knows what will trip us up and what will help us triumph.

Hannah had no children. And then she had a very important child.

If we’ll trust God’s plan, our obedience will speed us to the victory.

Relationship Renovation

Genesis 48:11
Israel said to Joseph, "I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too."
I missed out on going to my family reunion this year. I enjoy going as often as possible so I can visit with aunts and uncles and cousins. I love seeing how the young ones are now so tall.

My kids also enjoy seeing my brother’s kids every year. They used to be a lot closer in size than they are now, but they still party like there’s no tomorrow when they see each other. Their love for each other makes even the adults smile.

I imagine there will be great rejoicing in Heaven when we return to those friends and relatives who have gone before us. Won’t that be an exciting time (– among many exciting moments in Heaven)?

I love it when God brings loved ones back together again. Or when he restores friendships or family relationships between those who allowed something to come between them.

Mercy and Healing

Genesis 20:16-18
To Sarah he said, "I am giving your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated." Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, his wife and his slave girls so they could have children again, for the LORD had closed up every womb in Abimelech's household because of Abraham's wife Sarah.

There are those to whom pregnancy comes easy. And then there are those who pray for a child. Those who are praying God would open their womb and help them conceive a child can read about Sarah and Hannah. God gives us examples of women who stubbornly loved God and stubbornly asked Him for help with a pregnancy.

I know children are a blessing. They’re a lot of work, but they’re also a blessing.

Some women find it unfair that those who don’t want kids get pregnant easily. And those who want kids, but can’t have any, must learn to not take offense when someone else gets pregnant.

As much as God loves the sound of children’s laughter, He also cherishes the hearts of the adults. No person is more important than another, regardless of age or even child-related cuteness.

God wants each of us to notice and accept Him. Even if we don’t get everything we want. We are to follow God’s guidance because His plan is better than ours.

In Genesis, God had to deal with the hearts of Abraham, Sarah, Abimelech, his wife, and his slave girls before the issue of child-bearing could be corrected.

My kids are old enough to take on a little more responsibility now. I give them tasks and expect them to obey. God does that with me, only I’m just as imperfect as my kids. Should I expect my kids to obey me to the letter when I don’t follow God perfectly?

Because our kids are a blessing, we should recognize that we’re here to be that kind of a blessing to our Heavenly Father. Because he gives us mercy, we should pay it forward to our kids.

Thank You, God, for healing us and showing us mercy.

An Inheritance For Your Children

Joshua 14:9
So on that day Moses swore to me, 'The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.'

Joshua and Caleb were the only two men to bring back a fearless report of the land they’d been sent into. They told of a land flowing with milk and honey, but the other men stirred up fear in the hearts of the people.

At eighty-five years old, Caleb reminded Joshua what had happened when he was forty. Moses gave him land as an inheritance, and Caleb wanted to move into what was his.

I come from people who live a long time on the earth. They’re strong and proud and active. I can just imagine Caleb looking even more fit than my relatives. His words sound like he was energized and ready to go.

One of the things I like about Caleb is the fact that he doesn’t expect to drive out his enemies with his own strength. He knows he can be victorious against his enemies with the Lord’s help. Verse twelve shows his confidence is in the Lord. “You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”

Because of his obedience and trust in the Lord, Caleb secured a great inheritance for all of his descendants. Or from verse nine, “your inheritance and that of your children forever.”

How are you building up an inheritance for your children?

Rejoicing

Nehemiah 12:43
And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.

The wall of Jerusalem had been finished, and the Israelites had settled in their towns. Then Ezra read the law to the people. They had a feast and celebrated. They made a binding agreement, took part in ceremonies, and rejoiced.

They didn’t just have a pot-luck supper where everyone sat around drinking tea and visiting. They rejoiced. Loudly.

Have you been to a party that was so loud you were sure the police were going to shut it down because it was disturbing the neighbors? The Jerusalem party was like that combined with a large group of junior high girls screaming at a concert. I’m saying it was loud.

They had a right to be loud. They had come back to Jerusalem and had fought to stay there. The city wall, which was destroyed, had been rebuilt. They listened to the law of God and committed themselves to the God who had never left them through all their many problems.

They had come back home.

In this age of mobility, we understand what it’s like to move from home to home. Today there aren’t as many people who live in one place as there used to be. People who, decade after decade, live in the same house next door to the same neighbors.

Many parents want to be in one place to raise their children. They want their children to relax in the place they call home.

God had brought these people through many hard situations. He gave them a victory and a reason to fill their mouths with thanksgiving. And now it was time to celebrate.

The next time God gives you peace, rest, and a reason to celebrate, remember the people of Jerusalem, the men and women and children who responded to God by rejoicing from the bottom of their hearts.