Illustration: Laurel and I with our first child. She didn’t want any pain meds… and then she did… a few minutes later, holding our first born son… the pain was gone. Interesting thing about birth, the mother can be exhausted, and in pain, shouting at their husband “You… You did this to me!” And a few minutes later with the gift of life in their arms they are ready to experience the pain of childbirth all over again… well sometime in the future anyways!
Hannah… she was barren and begging God for a child. Like a lot of us, Hannah starts trying to bargain with God. She makes a promise (my interpretation): “If you give me a child, I’ll give him back to you”. From barrenness comes a deep longing. A deep yearning. Sometimes even if you have one child comes a longing for another. I heard a mother once say, “after seven miscarriages, and being told we could never have another child, we found ourselves pregnant again. But we didn’t rest easy until our second daughter was born”. It is a deep yearning that so often longs to be a parent. Hannah’s “is a prayer of groaning that comes from a place of vulnerability”. (Feasting on the Word, Yr B, Vol. IV, p. 292)
Maybe some of you have longed for a child. Sometimes your prayer has been answered, and perhaps, in other times your prayer wasn’t answered the way you wanted it to be. But still, you longed; wept; prayed; cried out to God.
Like the later story of Mary giving birth to Jesus, this story is one in which “both births are made possible through extraordinary faith”. (p. 294)… BUT Hannah receives the child, and true to her word she delivers him back to the Lord, and Samuel is raised up a Prophet over Israel who would anoint the first and second Kings. He would speak for God, perhaps just as we might wish God, or Jesus would speak to us today.
If you could save a life, especially through extraordinary faith, would you do it? If you could change the face of a nation, through extraordinary faith, would you try?
The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary states “She gestates and births a prophetic leader, and so attention is paid her. Her story is ground work for the construction of identity for Israel’s monarchy. It is a monarchy that finds its roots in despair, in barrenness, and in humble prayer. Because this story is of great importance for the character of Israel’s identity, readers could occupy themselves quite constructively by making metaphorical connections between Hannah’s barrenness and despair and the emotions of a nation that was looking for a leader, for a way to feel secure and hopeful in troubled times”. (p. 290).
What strikes me is that phrase “She gestates and births a prophetic leader…”.
That metaphor, may well have applied to Hannah’s day and the identity of Israel, but what about the current troubled economic and times in which we live? Can it be that in our own barrenness and despair, that we might need to anguish to God for a prophetic voice to be raised up? That we should cry out in prayer and anguish and ask God to provide us a prophetic voice to bring us hope!
What if we cry out in prayer and through our extraordinary faith God will raise up a prophet to speak to us? A Prophet to speak to America; to speak to our times; to tell us the ways of God!
I was asking some of my colleagues in ministry what we would want the Prophet to say?
Doug S. – “Share a message like the old prophets… repent and turn back to God”.
Suzanne B. – “Return to the rock from which you were hewn”.
Jean R. – “Can we really tell God what we would want him to say to us?”
I am certain that if a prophet is raised up, we may not like his message. It might be a message we don’t want to hear. Suzanne suggested that He might speak that “the peril of our present day is Godly judgment for how we have strayed away from Godly values”. He might step on our toes! And yet, the prophetic voice can bring hope to our barrenness.
Duet 18:15-19 we read: “15 The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. 16 For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, "Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die."
17 The LORD said to me: "What they say is good. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. 19 If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account.”
Let’s not be filled with despair this morning, and so I go back to my earlier question?
- “What can be possible through extraordinary faith?” - - What can be possible in our nation through extraordinary faith?
- Can we heal the sick?
- Can cancer be cured?
- Can we cry out of our barrenness and raise up a prophet that will speak for God?