Welcome! I’m so glad you’re joining us for this fourteen-week Bible study based on Girls’ Love Letters from God. If you have time, you may wish to keep a journal to record your responses to the questions. Please DO leave comments, responses or questions on this post so that we can learn from and encourage one another.
Hannah: The Hopeful Girl
Read: 1 Samuel 1:9-2:1
I have two adorable grandchildren who live 2000 long miles away. I see them about twice a year. Last time we visited, I distinctly remember what the weather was like the day we said goodbye. It was really cloudy and gloomy and rainy. I felt like the dark skies matched my mood.
But as we flew high above the clouds, the sun was waiting to greet us, shining bright and strong and cheerful on Mount Hood’s spectacular snow-covered peaks. It was a gorgeous sight. And it reminded me that in every sad or hard situation, there’s always hope, even if you can’t see it.
Sometimes you have to climb up to find hope, and sometimes you have to go down. And that’s where we find our Hannah… down on her knees, in the temple, literally crying out to her God of hope.
Hannah was desperate. She was desperate for the one thing in life that had eluded her…
Completely and utterly at the end of her own resources, Hannah falls to her knees on the cold temple floor and sobs to the One who knows her distress:
Let’s pause right there. Look how Hannah begins her prayer… here is a woman, completely distraught, and in so much need, who actually doesn’t begin with herself, but begins instead in praise to the God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
A glimpse into other translations reinforces Hannah’s acknowledgement at the very outset of the only One capable of answering her plea.
There’s no doubt about it… Hannah knows the strength of her God, but it doesn’t prevent her from pouring out her anguish and letting God know exactly how wretched and forgotten she feels. In the next breath, she says:
If you’ll take a good, hard look at my pain,
If you’ll quit neglecting me and go into action for me
By giving me a son,
I’ll give him completely, unreservedly to you.
I’ll set him apart for a life of holy discipline.
Can’t you just hear the anguish in Hannah’s voice? We don’t know how many times she’s prayed this prayer before, but I’m guessing it’s not the first. Her plea is so distressing that the priest who hears her actually thinks she’s drunk. But Hannah is not drowning in wine. She’s drowning in sorrow. Here is a woman completely distraught, who feels totally abandoned, neglected, and forgotten by God.
Have you been there?
Friends, I don’t know what it’s like to hope and hope for a child, to desperately plea with God for a baby. But I do know what it’s like to sink to my knees and cry out in desperation to God, to hope for something so elusive that even as I pray, I’m already questioning if it will really happen.
Hold on to hope! Because even in the darkest places, and sometimes especially in the darkest of places, hope can be found. I think God plants it there… buried deep, curled up tight, or hidden above dark clouds.
If you were to lift the flap to read God’s love letter to you in Hannah’s story, this is what you would find:
Did you know that hope can live in the darkest of places? Think about the deep soil, where daffodil bulbs are hidden. One day, pretty flowers will emerge from the dark earth. Or think about a chrysalis, hanging from a branch, all shriveled and lifeless. But inside, a butterfly is growing. One day, she will spread her wings and fly. Now think about Hannah. Even in her darkest days, hope was alive in her heart. And just like I whispered hope into Hannah’s heart, I will whisper hope into your heart too. Even in the darkest times, keep praying. Hold on to hope. It is my gift to you.
Hannah went on to have a baby.
Her great God of hope heard her prayer, and answered it. Can’t you see Hannah’s joy, as she cuddles Samuel, whose name means I asked the Lord for him …this little child, born from the darkness of a once-empty womb?
When Samuel was just three years old, Hannah took him back to the temple to live with Eli, the priest, just as she had promised. That little boy would grow up to be Israel’s greatest judge, one who would anoint kings.
Friends, I don’t know what it is you hope for. I don’t know what deep longings steal sleep from you at night. I don’t know what rips apart your soul and makes you cry. But God knows.
Cry out to God. Cry out to the God-of-the-Angel-Armies, who can march in and defeat any enemy in your life.
Hold on to hope.
Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope! Romans 15:13, The Message
Please share your response to one of these questions in the comments.
Questions for Reflection
- What is your favorite name for God, and why?
- Where has God given you hope in the past?
- What is God revealing to you through Hannah’s story?
- What is your favorite Bible verse that brings you hope?
- Read Hannah’s story in its entirety. What brings you hope in it?
- Compare her prayer with Mary’s prayer. What similarities do you find?
- Memorize Romans 15:13