This week we have some Give Thanks! devotions and then we will start Advent with our scratch-off Advent 2016 Calendar.
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Give Thanks! - Hannah's Prayer
Monday, November 21
1 Samuel 2:1-10 (NRSV)
Hannah prayed and said, "My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in my God. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in my victory.
"There is no Holy One like the Lord, no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry are fat with spoil. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn. The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low, he also exalts. He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord's, and on them he has set the world.
"He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness; for not by might does one prevail. The Lord! His adversaries shall be shattered; the Most High will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king, and exalt the power of his anointed."
Hannah lived with her pain for years.
Even though we are separated from Hannah and her plight by thousands of years and countless cultural differences, her "deep anguish" - caused by her inability to conceive a son, and the cruel mockery she experienced as a result - is something we can understand.
But even though these disappointments "went on year after year", Hannah continued to pray. And one day, God answered that prayer. Hannah's song of thanks is one of the most beautiful prayers in all of Scripture. Hannah's years of grief and pain dissolve into simple, heartfelt gratitude to God.
Things to think about:
- Have you ever waited years for an answer to prayer? What did you learn in the course of that long wait for God's answer?
- What do you think might have happened if God had not answered Hannah's prayer the way she hoped? Do you think it is possible to be thankful to God even when He says "no" to an earnest prayer?
- At what point should we interpret God's silence as a "no" answer?
- What prayer requests have you brought before God recently? Have you taken time to express your gratitude for God's grace, even as you await an answer?
** If you are a woman currently experiencing infertility or pregnancy loss, hoping to adopt a child, or know someone who is, your are invited to Hannah's Prayer Group, which meets the third Monday of each month from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in CLB 246. The next meeting is Monday, November 21. No registration or fee required. Open to the public. If you have any questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.