Short daily devotionals for the socially distanced. These are thoughts from my daily time in the word. I use a bible reading plan that will have me in a different section of Scripture every day.
I hope they serve to give you courage and hope. You can subscribe to receive them as a daily email at the bottom of the page.
Tuesday, May 5th
Reading: 1 Samuel 1-3
15 But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” 17 Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.”
— 1 Sa 1:15–17 (ESV)
I love that so much of the biblical narrative hinges on the faithfulness of desperate women. Women who would have been outcast, isolated and extremely vulnerable in their culture and context play a special role in the ongoing drama of God’s redemption. Hannah is one of those women.
She was in the vulnerable position in her society of being married but seemingly unable to conceive. Such a situation would have brought shame, derision and potential isolation upon her. What made it worse was that her husband (Elkanah) had another wife (Peninnah) who seemed to conceive at any of Elkanah’s merest glimpses, and Penninah used that as a means to taunt and mock Hannah, and to remind her of her vulnerable place. Elkanah didn’t help much, even though he loved Hannah dearly, as he was unable to empathize with her, and as so many of us do (men pay attention), he managed to make Hannah’s pain about himself. His question in verse 8 is painfully blind and self-obsessed.
Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”
— 1 Sa 1:8.
He essentially said, “But, Hannah, you have me! How could you possibly want anything else?” This is a pretty terrible way to process through someone’s pain.
I love what Hannah does in that pain, though. She goes to the Lord! She goes to the Lord in and with her pain, and she doesn’t cover it up, pretty it over, or try to resolve it in a neat bow of theological argument. She pours her soul out to the Lord, so much so that Eli thinks she has been day drinking. Instead of day drinking, she was telling the Lord of her great anxiety and vexation. Think about that. We stuff that sort of thing away, thinking that it would cause God disappointment. Hannah takes it right to Him, and asks Him to deal with it.
Perhaps, before you pour something into a glass in an effort to subdue your vexation, you have to rather pour it out before the Lord in the midst of your vexation.
I love how verse 18 tells us that after doing this, Hannah ate, and her face was longer sad. She gave it all to God and then didn’t take it back.
Friends, in prayer, we have an opportunity to take those deep anxieties and vexations into the very throne room of heaven and to pour them out at and perhaps even on the feet of the one who rules the universe and loves us more than we could possibly fathom.
Don’t bottle it up, don’t water it down, don’t drink it away.
Pour it out.
Courage, dear friends.