Being born a woman in Old Testament times, Hannah knows firsthand her disadvantage. As if this weren’t enough, she cannot have children. Insecurity, uncertainty, disappointment, and judgment are aspects of life that she juggles day after day. Yet Hannah looks beyond her situation to the One who holds and keeps her life.
God remembers her persistent dependence. And Hannah remembers the One to whom she owes thanks. Her song of thanksgiving expresses who God is and how God works in her life, despite her difficulties. Hannah’s song magnifies the Lord.
A physician once told me that we can magnify something or someone in two ways. First we can magnify something small to make it look big, such as when we look through a microscope to see microbes and viruses. The organisms look big when they are actually undetectable by the naked eye. The second approach to magnification occurs when we look at something seemingly small and see it for how magnificent it really is, such as looking at the moon, planets, and stars through a telescope. We realize that not only are they bigger than they appear but that we can never come to terms with their size, greatness, and beauty.
Hannah’s expression of God’s reversals in her hymn of thanksgiving reminds us that our God is much greater than our problems. She looked to God and persisted in the knowledge that no situation lies beyond God’s intervention and answers.
May I magnify you at all times, O Lord. Help me sing your praise even in difficult moments. Remind me of Hannah’s song and your ability to turn things around for your glory. Amen.
The inability to have a child brings pain to many today, and this was equally true in ancient times. In that context it was sometimes even worse, for Peninnah openly ridicules Hannah for being unable to conceive. But as a result of her desperate, heartfelt prayer, God blesses Hannah with a son, Samuel, who will become a powerful prophet. Hannah then rejoices in a God who exalts the poor and needy. Hannah provides an example of the boldness with which we also can approach God now because of Christ’s sacrifice. The destruction of Jerusalem is the focus of the passage in Mark. Jesus here predicts the demolition of the Temple and the city, which the Romans executed in 70 ce.
• Read 1 Samuel 1:4-20. When have you felt trapped by circumstances not of your own making? How did the situation resolve itself?
• Read 1 Samuel 2:1-10. When has a situation in your life changed because you persisted in prayer? What did that experience teach you?
• Read Hebrews 10:11-25. Do you perceive God’s remembering your sin no more as encouragement or license? Why?
• Read Mark 13:1-8. What signs make you anxious about the world’s future? What helps you rest easier?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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