Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your
faith produces steadfastness.
— James 1:2-3 - Week 14 Memory Verse

Day 1

1 Samuel 1:1-20

While the Scriptures never overtly declare polygamy to be sin, we see the dysfunction it creates everyone it exists. 1 Samuel 1 is not exception. It strikes me in v. 6 when it characterizes the relationship between the two wives as one of rivalry. And we can immediately empathize with Hannah’s heart ache, depression and the deepening of her grief because of the cruelty of Peninnah. The despair of Hannah’s barrenness is common to all women who long to have children but who have not yet been able to do so. It’s compounded even more by the cultural value placed on children and women being fruitful in that sense. This is a heavy and sad introduction.

My heart just aches for the infertility of so many men and women who so desperately want kids. That’s where my head and heart are today… Just hurting and hoping with those I know have deep desires to be parents.

There are at least 4 truths embedded in these verses that I want to draw attention to…

  1. God is Sovereign over the womb - That’s a tough one to reconcile for those who have not had children. It is firmly with the scope of God’s power to open or close the womb. So, he’s the one to womb we pour out our souls, the one to whom we look for intervention. He’s also the one we have to reconcile with when our desires are unfulfilled.

  2. Men need a lot less ego and a lot more empathy - This is me as much as any man. Elkanah genuinely loves Hannah. His heart is turned toward her and he clearly appreciates her. Yet, he seems a bit clueless. His thoughtlessness then leads him to self-centeredness. He makes Hannah’s understandable grief over childlessness about him. “Aren’t I enough? Aren’t I better than 10 kids?” The text doesn’t answer the question but I think we can all guess. Even Eli, the priest assumes she’s drunk and crazy because of her emotions and desperation. Men, when our wives, daughters or the women in our lives are sad, grieved and heavy hearted, we need to lean in, listen and learn to not make it about us. We need to learn to enter into the grief with them and into the uncomfortable realm of inconsolable things… pains that must be processed but which cannot be resolved. That’s hard. But it’s necessary and healthy for us as well as meaningful and helpful for others.

  3. Pain provides the best context for God’s drawing us to him - Hannah’s anguish and affliction keeps her crying out to the Lord, depending on the Lord and surrendering to the Lord. Apart from this pain she would likely not be terribly mindful of the Lord. Her pain keeps her acutely aware of her need and limitations. Don’t let your pain make you bitter, let your pain make you dependent and desperate.

  4. God’s heart is inclined toward to his people - God doesn’t always give us the desires of our hearts, even the desires for good things. But he is always good. His heart is never to withhold good things, but to lead us into the best things. Sometimes that means delaying what we’re asking for, other times it means not giving it all. But whatever things he withholds it is always with the intent to give us what we really need… more of Himself.

  • How are you responding to pain in your life? Are you lashing out or pressing in?

  • What are you tempted to give up asking God for because of your disappointment? What inconsolable thing are you living with, an unresolved pain that you have keep bringing to Him and trusting him with?

Day 2

1 Samuel 1:21-28

These verses give us all an important reminder and they confront all parents with one big reality.

First, Hannah did not lose sight of who was responsible for her joy. She persisted in prayer to the Lord for years we’re told and finally He opened her womb and gave her a son. He rid her of her shame and reproach. So many of us ask God things, big and small, and we when he grants them in his grace and mercy we fail to give him honor and thanks, and or even give credit to something else. Hannah reminds us that God is the source of every good and perfect gift and his generosity deserves our humble appreciation and the honoring of any vows we make to him. I love that Hannah makes a crazy commitment to the Lord if he’ll just give her a child. I love even more that she didn’t blow it off, but kept it.

Second, for parents, Hannah reminds us that any idea of our kids being our own is illusory at best. We have no ownership stake in our kids lives. What we have been entrusted with is a stewardship responsibility. They are God’s first, given to us for a time to love, care for and represent Christ to. What Hannah does quite literally is what all of us must do internally and strategically… to dedicate our children to the Lord and our parenting to the Lord that they might grow up to love and serve the King of glory.

  • What answered prayer have you either not give the Lord credit for or have you not stewarded as though it came from him?

  • What do you need to do to move toward a stewardship mentality over your children, and away from an ownership mentality?

Day 3

1 Samuel 2:1-11

Let’s follow Hannah’s example today and take time today to write out a prayer of thanksgiving from your heart for all the Lord is and all he has done for you. This is a really effective means of orienting our hearts and minds toward Christ and involvement with us and around us, which easily overlook and ignore. Let’s take a day to take stock.

Day 4

1 Samuel 2:12-26

v. 12 is shocking and tragic. It’s sad enough he Eli’s sons were worthless and didn’t know the Lord. The really shocking and tragic part comes from back in chapter 1 when we’re told the Eli’s sons were priests of the Lord. This should never happen. This is what Jesus characterizes as thieves and robbers in John 10 who are hired hands and who come to steal, kill and destroy. You cannot be a minister of the Lord and for the Lord if you do not know the Lord. It seems obvious, but I assure you this still happens today, where charismatic but unconverted men are positioned as ministers of the Lord. There is a stark warning here for the Church.

As a pastor myself, the warning that hits really close to home relates to my children, and I’ll apply it more broadly to say this… there is nothing more important that any of us will ever do than lead our children into a relationship with Christ. May we never get so caught up in career success, ministry success, educational success in our lives and in the lives of our families that we neglect to actually be lovers of Christ who raise lovers of Christ. Our calling as parents is concentrate our energies toward the spiritual awakening of our kids. We can’t cause that to happen ultimately, but we can make it a top priority and first concern of ours, because it is the first concern of God for us as parents.

Our kids will bear responsibility for their own choices and actions, as did Hophni and Phineas, but we will bear responsibility as parents for the part we play. And while they had contempt for the offering, there is something contemptible in Eli making them priests in service to the Lord without them having any relationship with the Lord. It’s even more contemptible that he was aware of there depravity, sin, recklessness and waywardness and yet he allowed them to remain in the priesthood. There was a massive failure on the part of Eli as a father and as a prophet in Israel.

Then we see Hannah become very fruitful in having more children, and very fruitful in terms of Samuels growth and maturity in the Lord. This is quite the contrast, between Eli’s sons and Samuel.

I just want to ask you to take stock of your children today…

  • How are they walking currently? Do they have an awareness of the Lord or a relationship with the Lord? Make an honest evaluation. If you’re married talk about this with your spouse.

  • What are the particular flesh patterns and traps you see in their lives that could draw them away from the Lord and his purposes for them?

Pray for them throughout the day and start asking God to lead you into how to specifically pray for them in an ongoing basis.

One thing I recommend for you is to have 1-2 verses that you pray over each of your children individually that pertains to their particular wiring… how does God want to use them and how does the enemy want to undermine that? Pray Scripture protectively and offensively over them.

Day 5

1 Samuel 2:27-36

Here’s the fallout of the tragic reality we looked at yesterday. God will not be mocked. He will hold us accountable, particularly those who are positioned to minister in His name. The simple application for me today is in v. 30, where God says, “Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed.”

There is an inevitability and eventuality to this. God will ultimately and finally honor those who honor him, and those who despise him will be denied by him. This makes me consider today, whether I am honoring the Lord in my actions, with my words, and in my heart. Is he the controlling force in my life? Is he the dominant love and hope and thought? Is there any way in which my life is despising the Lord? Are there secret thoughts or cherished sins that I’m hiding? Is my character or my practices at work honoring the Lord? Is my treatment of my spouse honoring the Lord? Is my engagement with my children honoring the Lord? Is my awareness and treatment of my neighbors honoring the Lord? Do my words match my life? These are worthwhile questions.

What about you?