Tuesday, December 21, 2010

There's Hannah, There's Mary, and There's You and Me

Most of the time during the Christmas season, we want to remember to talk specifically about Jesus, because He is our reason for sharing this time together at all. It's never about us. It's about Him.
It sure makes a difference in the things we do and say when we remember why we come together.
Since A Pen for Your Thoughts speaks week after week of those things we reflect on, I also find myself thinking of the Biblical Hannah at this time of year. We read about her in the book of 1 Samuel.

The blessed Hannah (a little like Mary, the mother of Jesus) was first of all an intense prayer warrior as we read in 1 Samuel 1 and 2.

Hannah was married to a man they called Elkinah, who also was married to a woman named Peninnah. (God winked at things like that back then, but He's not winking these days, in case you were wondering).

Peninnah was a woman with a cruel tongue. Although it is not clear as we read the story, it's possible that Elkinah married Peninnah because Hannah could not conceive, and he was looking to have some sons.

But I wanted to share my heart with you about Hannah over the Christmas holidays to speak to the value of living a life of prayer and believing in our prayers because that was the kind of woman Hannah was.

Hannah would bear a son, who would be called Samuel, and who, himself, would grow up to become a man of prayer because of his mother’s witness.
Makes you want to ask yourself, "What is my witness?"

The name Samuel means “asked of the Lord.”
What are you asking the Lord about today?
Is it all all for yourself or is it for the betterment of others?

Hannah had a character that I would best describe as unblemished, pious, emotional, patient, trustworthy, faithful. (Sigh.)
How I wish I could say that about myself.
Though we don't necessarily read about her physical attributes, we learn from the way Hannah's described in character, she was definitely beautiful from within. The meaning of her name was gracious and favor. A woman with a gracious character who was favored by God because of it.

We read in 1 Samuel 1:

     "Now there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, of Mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah … And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
     And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. (The difference between him and Samson who were both believers.)
     And the two sons of Eli (by Peninnah) … the priests of the Lord, were there. And when the time was that Elkinah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions: BUT UNTO HANNAH HE GAVE A WORTHY PORTION; for he loved Hannah: But the Lord had shut up her womb.
     And her adversary (the other wife) also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb. (she was a discourager rather than an encourager).
     And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, so she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat.
     Then said Elkanah her husband to her, 'Hannah, why weepest thou? And why eatest thou not? And why is thy heart grieved? Am not I better to thee than ten sons?'
     So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk.
     Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the Lord.
     And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, 'O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaiden, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.'
     And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli marked her mouth.
     Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. And Eli said unto her, 'How long wilt thou be drunken? Put away thy wine from thee.'
     And Hannah answered and said, 'No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto.'
     Then Eli answered and said, 'Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him.'
     And she said 'Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight.'
     So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad. And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the Lord, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the Lord remembered her.
     Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying Because I have asked him of the Lord…
     And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the Lord in Shiloh: and the child was young. And they slew a bullock and brought the child to Eli.
     And she said, 'Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD. For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there.'
     And Hanna prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.
     And the Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters.
     And the child Samuel grew before the Lord."

     That was from part of the first and second chapter of 1 Samuel. We can read Hannah’s prayer, which reminds us of the prayer Jesus' mother Mary prayed when she was told she was to be blessed among women, and that the fruit of her womb would be the Son of God.
     Hannah was now going to be blessed with her own son who would become a true man of prayer. Let's see what she prayed and just how close to Mary's prayer it came.

  • Hannah prayed: “My heart rejoiceth in the Lord”
1. Mary prayed: “My soul doth magnify the Lord”
  • Hannah prayed: “Mine horn is exalted in the Lord”
2. Mary prayed: “My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior”
  • Hannah prayed “My mouth is enlarged over mine enemies because I rejoice in thy salvation
3. Mary prayed: “He hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed
  • Hannah prayed: “There is none holy as the Lord 
4. Mary prayed: "For he that is mighty hath done great things and holy is his name"
  • Hannah prayed: "There is none beside thee"
5. Mary prayed: "And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation"
  • Hannah prayed: "Neither is there any rock like our God"
6. Mary prayed "And he hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts."

Hannah prayed and believed just like Mary prayed and believed.
Do we pray and believe our prayers?
Hannah dedicated her son to God. Mary dedicated God's Son back to Him.
Have we dedicated our children to God and left them in His hands?
Hannah was filled with faith and let God be her answer. Mary was filled with faith and let God be her Savior. Do we have hearts filled with faith and allowed God to make us into what He wants 
or do we often give up and always want things our way?

Although it was difficult to be so, Hannah remained patient. We know Mary must have been patient to go through what she went through to give birth to the Son of God.
Are we willing to wait on God’s answer
or do we try to work things out by ourselves again and again?

During this Christmas season, I can't help thinking about how Hannah’s faith was greatly tested. But when she was at her end, her husband encouraged her only in the Lord. Remember when he said, “Am I not better to thee than ten sons?”
This enabled Hannah to lift her spirits and go on. And as she did, she continued praying and believing and waiting for God provide her the answer. Then she had the faith to believe in what He could do.
Are we willing to do the same?

     If, during this Christmas season, you are being tested in your faith, or you see others being tested in theirs, how can you best be an instrument of encouragement.Take time this season to share the wonderful things God has done in so many peoples' lives thus far. Advising people around you to continue with their prayers, and in doing so, stay patient and believe. God won’t let the faithful down.

May you be blessed beyond abundance in the Lord during this Christmas season, no matter what you might be going through.  


  1. Amen, thanks for sharing. God is faithful and he always anwsers our prayer:)

  2. Thank YOU Toyin for taking the time to read that (typos) and all. You are so right. GOD IS EVER FAITHFUL. Don't you just love Him? Have a glorious Christmas, Toyin.

  3. I appreaciate this devotion. Thanks Shirley.
    Have a nice Christmas.
    Betty F

  4. The same to you, Betty F from Windsor. I'm so glad you came by. your little comment was a blessing to me. Especially right now. I needed it today.
    (Be blessed in the New Year too)

  5. Have a great new year. I love what you write. I'll be back next year. Janice Ian!