Whenever I hear someone talk about Hannah from 1 Samuel it is usually because of her great trust in the midst of her barrenness. She is the test case for infertility, really. Barren in a culture that gave women their worth by the fruit of their womb. Reviled by the second wife who bore her husband the multitude of children she so desperately wanted, yet couldn't have. Misunderstood by those around her who observed her grief over her emptiness. Yet, she trusted God in the midst of it all. And God heard her prayer of desperation.
But there is something about Hannah that I often overlook. As I was listening to this sermon the other day I was struck by something in this biblical story.
Hannah lost the son she begged for.
In the wake of her great joy over her precious son, she walked in obedience to a vow she made to God and gave her son back to the One who gave her the gift of life in the first place (1 Samuel 1:11, 22, 28). The pastor I was listening to said that it would be expected for Hannah to respond to such a loss with unimaginable grief. This was pre-Skype, pre-texting, pre-modern mail system. Saying goodbye to her son, Samuel, meant saying goodbye forever. When she left him with Eli she left with him every dream of seeing him grow into a man. Every dream of seeing him learn how to write his name, read a book, or do anything that a normal little boy does. Except for the times when they went up to offer yearly sacrifices, when she left him with Eli that was it. As she promised in that tear filled moment before his conception, she gave her son back to God.
But what does Hannah do? She worships God (1 Samuel 2:1-11). She doesn't shake her fist at him in anger. She doesn't go back on her word. She worships the One who gives all good things to his children. She praises him for his character, his goodness, and his faithfulness to his people. She just kissed her little boy goodbye, left him forever, and all she can do is look to God and praise his name.
What Hannah recognized was that her son was really not hers to claim. He was a gift. God gave him to her and he had the right to take him back. She understood that the focal point of all of her barrenness, all of her pain, and all of her joy in the birth of her son was God. It was not about her getting everything she wished for. It was about God being magnified in her life and in the life of her boy.
And oh, how he was magnified. It was through this longed for boy that God would bring his people back to himself and prepare them for a king. It was through his leadership that the line of David, the line of our Christ, would be established. Hannah's loss was not for naught. It was for us. It was for our joy. It was for our salvation.
Rarely do we see the final outcome of our losses. We don't often get to see the ultimate point of them all, but it doesn't mean it is not there. Hannah never got to see the Christ who was promised. She probably never saw the king who would carry the lineage of our perfect King Jesus. But she trusted the promise nonetheless. She knew her story wasn't the final word. Neither is ours. How do we know this? Because of the loss of another--our precious Christ. It is his loss that assures us that our losses mean something much deeper than the agony we feel in the moment. It is his loss that promises that one day all things will be made right by his once and for all defeat of all things evil. Hannah hoped in the God who would get this done in his time. And so should we. Hannah was able to look in the face of her precious boy as she walked away from him for the last time and know that God would win in the end and her loss was not in vain. The same is true for us, friends. The same is true for us.