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Dear Hannah

Dear Hannah,

I've been reading your story in 1 Samuel over and over for several weeks. 

What a legacy.  

You prayed repeatedly to the Lord to give you the desire of your heart for He had closed your womb. You were so deep in your emotion that the priest even thought you were drunk as you prayed on the temple steps. You were probably drained from asking God for a child. You possibly wondered why He had done this to you and I’m sure you asked Him “Why? Why me, God? Why have you closed my womb? Please give me a child. Please. Everyone else around me has a child. I know you see how Peninnah treats me, I know you do. Please God, have mercy and open my womb.” I know you probably wondered day after day what in the world God was waiting on. Why this horrible, long, wait?

The wait. The wait is what is so vital in this story. See, God wanted a godly man to carry Israel through a lifetime of guidance. He wanted to use someone, but He wanted their whole life. Would just any mother be willing to give up their child? No. Would just any mother be willing to drop off her only son after finally receiving what she prayed for? No. The Lord brought you through a long, exhausting wait, a silent wait where you wondered every day what He was doing. His silence might have seemed in vain at the time, but see Hannah, He wasn’t waiting... He was working. He was working to mold you through each exhausting prayer and every frustrated question you had. He was molding you, guiding you, drawing you into His presence. It was in your wait that desperation came to you and God brought you to a place where you looked at Him and said, “Okay, God. I’m here again and I am on my last thread…” It was at this point, because of the wait, when you made your solemn oath, that earnest promise. Did you have any idea what that vow would do for Israel? Did you know that the whole country of Israel would benefit from your vow? That vow allowed guidance for Israel for decades. Because of your vow, and your obedience to that vow, Israel had communication with God, something that had been rare in your days. You might not have seen it then, but God brought you to a place of such sadness, a place He had to bring you, a long place of silent waiting, so that you would vow to give your son back to Him, and indeed you did. You promised to give your son to the Lord and you followed through on your promise. You brought sweet Samuel back to those same steps, the very steps that you made your vow to the Lord and you left him there.

How did you do that? How did you not backtrack your vow? How did you not change your mind? Did you have any sort of fear? There had to have been thoughts in your mind… “What if some sick person takes my son and abuses him? What if he thinks I’ve abandoned him? What if Eli doesn’t love him the way I would? What if someone hurts him?” You didn’t have a phone or a pager or even the postal mail. Samuel couldn’t even let you know if someone had hurt him. He couldn’t call you or text you or write you. You had no idea what was going on with him. You lived completely in the unknown. The unknown is worse than knowing the bad. The unknown can drive you mad, it can make you crazy. But not you, Hannah, you trusted God anyway. He must have molded that into you also during your wait. You were waiting, He was working. Because of that, Israel came back into communication with God Almighty. 

I think about all of these things and I think about the fears or worries or anxieties you must have felt when leaving him at those steps. Then I read your prayer. I have in my hand, the prayer that you prayed to the Lord. You do not mention a single fear or any worries or any anxieties of dropping off your first-born. Instead, your prayer is that of rejoicing to the Lord. You praise Him for who He is, you mention some of His attributes, as founder, creator, judge and about His sovereignty. Instead of dropping Him off in fear, you leave him in trust. On those temple steps you pray a prayer of complete praise to the Lord, and total trust in who God all – powerful ruler. I’m not sure I will ever understand that kind of strength in a woman. I hope I do and I pray I do, but that, Hannah, is strength, true strength. 

Your son lived a blameless life. He followed the Lord when no one else did. He encouraged Israel to continue to follow the Lord. He listened to God all the days of His life. At the end of his life, he asked the people to testify to anything that he had done wrong and they had nothing. They. Had. Nothing. He was blameless. His farewell speech still passionately tells the people to seek the Lord, obey the Lord, fear the Lord. Your son, Hannah, from the moment you dropped him off on those steps, until the day he was buried in Ramah…he followed God. He obeyed God. He feared God. He loved God. 

May we all learn from Hannah how to wait while God works, and how to leave our children on the steps of the temple in complete dedication to the Lord. For when she obeyed, a whole nation of God’s people were able to commune with God. It is remarkable what a mother’s trust in the Lord can contribute to. 


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To the woman in New York on the fence about abortion,
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