A Pilgrimage Fueled by Hope: For This Child I Prayed
By Sharon W. Betters
They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord.” -1 Samuel 1:18-20 ESV
The morning after Hannah’s spiritual experience, her family worships one more time before returning home. Hannah’s facial expression indicated something had shifted in her soul. I wonder how long it took for Peninnah to realize she no longer had power over Hannah. Soon Hannah learns she is pregnant.
Throughout Hannah’s story, the Holy Spirit, through the writer repeatedly reminds us of God’s sovereignty. First, God closed Hannah’s womb. Now, the Lord remembered her and in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son. Hannah is the writer’s source. Through the leading of the Holy Spirit, the writer tells her story from her vantage point of looking back. It’s clear that Hannah wants her story to showcase the sovereignty of God in a way that His sovereignty becomes a source of comfort and peace for others as it was for her.
From my perspective in my own pilgrimage, such surrender to God’s sovereign love is not always a one and done decision. Hannah’s practice of worship with her family helped strengthen her faith foundation and perhaps it was during these yearly corporate worship experiences Hannah regularly renewed her commitment to trust God’s sovereignty over her womb. Imagine Hannah’s strong faith and confidence she would bear many children. Imagine her confidence waning as year after year her womb remained empty. We meet Hannah at the lowest point of her journey and yet it’s there God reveals priceless treasures in the darkness. Trusting God’s sovereignty did not stop Hannah from lamenting and grieving for what she did not have. Hannah felt safe in expressing her longing for a child to God again and again.
When we lost our son, God’s sovereignty did not comfort me at first. I believed He could have stopped that car from skidding across the highway. I also believed when God gave us Mark, He knew He would take our sweet son back sixteen years later. I wrestled with God. I reminded God that like Hannah, I prayed for Mark. Like Hannah, I promised to dedicate him to the Lord. But unlike Hannah, my heart did not fully recognize Mark did not belong to me, but to God. Mark’s death stunned me into acknowledging Mark never belonged to me. He always belonged to God. I needed to reconcile His sovereignty with His love.
In time, God’s sovereign love became my priceless source of comfort and freed me to find purpose and joy in life once more. I wonder if Hannah struggled to reconcile God’s love with His sovereignty as well. I think the fact her story repeatedly showcases God’s sovereignty, might give us a window into the wrestling she might have experienced. What we do know is her corporate and private worship reminded her God is sovereign and she could trust Him. Even though she had no guarantee He would give her a son, her lament brought her to a point of surrender that changed her heart and that transformation showed up in her face.
Watch how Hannah acknowledges God’s sovereignty over her womb. She did not get pregnant because God closed her womb. She becomes pregnant because the Lord remembers her. Don’t misunderstand the translation of the word “remembers”. God does not and cannot forget anything. A better translation would be God extended mercy to Hannah. He always knew her heart and her desires. In His perfect timing, He mercifully gave her the desires of her heart. The name Samuel means “name of God” or “God has heard”. Hannah calls her son Samuel for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord.” The naming of Samuel once more indicates Hannah’s understanding that God saw her, He heard her, and He met her in her most sorrowful season. She acknowledges He gave her this son. God is sovereign and she could trust Him.
My friend, what is God calling you to surrender to Him: Your future, family, job, prodigal child, broken relationship, worry, anger, bitterness? Hannah vowed if God blessed her with a son, she would dedicate her son to God’s work. Are there blessings you are selfishly holding on to when God wants to multiply your blessings to others through your act of surrender? Can you open your heart and hands and with Hannah, give to God the very thing you most desire, trusting His purposes and love for you is perfect? Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and heart to the perfect goodness of your Heavenly Father who loves you with an everlasting love.
Oh Lord, show us what we are holding on to that could be a priceless blessing to others. In Your perfect timing, Samuel became a prophet You used to turn hearts toward You. What is in my hands that truly belongs to You and could be a blessing to others for generations to come?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sharon W. Betters is author of Treasures of Encouragement, Treasures in Darkness and co-author of Treasures of Faith. She is Director of Resource Development and co-founder of MARKINC.org, a nonprofit organization that offers help and hope to hurting people. Sharon enjoys quality time with her husband, children, and fourteen grandchildren.
For more from Daily Treasure please visit MARKINC.ORG.