Monday, September 10, 2012

Her Part of the Bargain

Have you ever made a bargain with God?  Standing by a bed in a hospital, have you ever promised you would read your Bible every day or give money to a missionary if God would just make this come out right?  Have you got down on your knees and begged God for a job, a child, a marriage and laid out on the table just what you would do if He came through for you?  In the extremity of our lives we are willing to promise anything, offer anything, sacrifice anything for our heart's desire.  

I am sure you've heard the warning, "God is not a vending machine!"  We don't put in the coins and get out the blessings.  We don't give like that.  How about this one, "God is not Santa in the sky."  We don't do good and expect that therefore good things will happen to us.  We don't obey like that.  You know what we do though?  We beg like that.

Hannah did too. Every year Elkanah's family came up to Shiloh.  Every year Hannah tried to eat the festival meal; her husband always gave her extra because he loved her best.  Every year she just ended up in tears instead because the other wife, Peninnah, kept throwing her infertility in her face. Hannah was as miserable as she was childless.

This year when she finished dinner, she got up to present herself before the Lord.  There at the doorpost to the Lord's tabernacle, she began to beg.  With her lips moving and her heart breaking she told God that if He would give her a son, she would give him back-back to the temple and back to the Lord.

Have you ever cried a prayer?  Have you wept to the point that you can't speak, where all you can do is move your lips and let God hear your heart?  I have.  While I was on the other side of the world, my Grandfather died unexpectedly. I could only join the people I love in mourning through prayer, but praying aloud was impossible.  I just mouthed the words.  Hannah was there too.  Standing at the doorpost to the Lord's tabernacle, she wept her prayer.

Eli was sitting out on the seat by the entrance.  He watched Hannah and concluded that she had one too many at the feast. He called out to her, "How long will you make yourself drunk? Put away your wine from you" (1 Samuel 1:14). Hannah replied that she had not been drinking, and said rather, "I have poured out my soul before the Lord"  (1 Samuel 1:15).

Hannah's tears and Hannah's bargain were honored by God.  Finally that year was the year that she became pregnant and bore a son. When it came time, though, to honor the bargain, how difficult it must have seemed.  The son she had begged for was the son she had bargained with.  When the baby was weaned, probably around 3 years old, she brought him to the temple to be raised there.  Each year when they came for the festival she brought him a little coat. I wonder if she was comforted by the other children she eventually bore.

The warnings are true.  God is not a vending machine and He is certainly not Santa in the sky.  However He is moved by our tears and He hears us when we beg His help.  The real question though is not about the compassion of God, the real question is about the faithfulness of His children.  Hannah gave back to God the gift He gave her, her firstborn son.  She kept her end of the deal.  In our worst moments we beg for God's help.  In our best moments do we remember the help He gave?   

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. 

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