Read 1 Samuel 1:1-18.
Elkinah had two wives: Peninnah who had a bunch of children, and Hannah who was barren. A barren woman was a family’s greatest misfortune. Children meant that the tribe would survive, and if a woman could not have children there was no guarantee of a future for her people, or for her.
Every year, as the family went to Shiloh, Peninnah made sure it was a miserable trip for Hannah. When others would be feasting, Hannah would be sobbing because of the torment of both her barrenness, and Peninnah the tormentor, who reminded her over and over again of her failure.
I think it would have been easy for Hannah to associate this trip and God with nothing but pain and misery. Eli seems to even be “proof” that everyone connected with Shiloh was against her, and if they were against her, was God, too? But Hannah shows us another way to respond. She pours her heart out to both God and Eli about her anger, pain, sorrow, and frustration. Eli hears her, and prays for peace for her. God hears her, and gives her Samuel, which in Hebrew means, “God hears.”
God, it can be so easy to feel like the world is against us. There are even times when all we can focus on is the pain and fear we hold inside, or the things outside of us that threaten to undo us. When we find ourselves angry, sad, and in pain, help us not to blame you but to turn to you and pour out everything we think and feel in prayer. And remind us no matter what is going on, you are a God who always hears us and responds. Amen.
Rev. Gini Norris-Lane