“And She Was No Longer Sad…”
In 1 Samuel 1:6-18 NLT (please click HERE for the full passage), we see Hannah inconsolable in her grief as she mourns for a child she has yet to conceive, as she endures the scorn/contempt/taunting of another woman, and as she pours out her heart to God in genuine cries of anguish.
We see Hannah’s husband Elkinah loving Hannah through her pain, doing everything he can to show her favor, to honor her, to communicate to her that his affection for her is unconditional–he loves her for who she is, not for the children she can bear for him.
We also see Eli, the high priest of God, who at first responds with misunderstanding, rudeness, and brutish assumption to Hannah’s emotional prayers to God. Eli softens, however, with Hannah’s humble explanation of her situation, the reason for her passionate prayers. As Eli listens he makes the choice to respond tenderly to Hannah, to encourage her, to bless her with his empathy, his own prayer, his friendship.
And look how Hannah leaves that situation that began with weeping, notice how Hannah departs from her interaction with Eli that started with him bruising her emotionally: “she was no longer sad” (the NIV translates the sentence as “her face was no longer downcast”).
Loved ones, we have the opportunity nearly every day to uplift the countenance, mood, disposition, and attitude of others by:
1. Truly noticing them (not just passing by them);
2. Really listening to them (not just physically hearing them);
3. Empathizing with them (experiencing their hurt with them);
4. Offering encouragement, support, prayer, a smile…friendship.
Eli couldn’t change Hannah’s barrenness, but he called on the One Who could. Similarly, we often cannot personally change a person’s difficult situation but we too can call on the One Who can. May we ask the Holy Spirit each day to help us be ready for the opportunities He gives us to so impact others with the love of Jesus that they too can say, after speaking with us, that they are no longer sad, that their face is no longer downcast.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.