This is an Honest Faith
by Susan Goodwin
Have you ever poured out your heart before the Lord? “Downhearted, deep anguish, crying bitterly” are the emotions of the childless woman, Hannah, which opens the book of 1 Samuel. The writer declares, “God has closed her womb.” Elkanah, her loving husband, fails to understand her while his other wife mocks her.
Her emotions erupt during a pilgrimage to the house of the Lord. Can you feel the weight of her longing? It is palatable. Hannah’s faith is displayed as she takes her emptiness to God. Feeling overwhelmed, her lips move to pray, but her weary heart has no sound. She is assumed drunk. In raw honesty, Hannah sighs, “I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord.” God hears. God remembers. God gives Hannah a son. (1 Samuel 1:15b)
In a worshipful response, Hannah again bares her soul before the Lord. This time her words are recorded. (1 Samuel 2:2-10) Her prayer’s focus is not on the gift of her son, Samuel, but upon the goodness of the Giver Himself. Affirming God’s unchanging nature, Hannah proclaims God’s future promise of redemption, for his people.
She exclaims that God opposes the proud and exalts the humble. (2:3-4) God is at work in the world despite chaos and evil. (2:9) God will send a king. (2:10) Through Samuel, God transitions Israel to a monarchy. This monarchy is a shadow of an eternal kingdom. God promises King David, whom Samuel anointed, an everlasting throne. Through David’s line, a king will come to rule and reign with all the goodness of God himself.
Centuries later, another mother responds in worshipful prayer, echoing the words of Hannah. (Luke 1:46-55) God visits humble Mary, giving her a son. Through this Son, all of God’s promises to Israel are completely and finally fulfilled. He is the long-awaited King from the line of David to rule forever. What Hannah knew in part is now known in full.
May our hearts worship with hers as we pour out our own longings before the Lord.