God has given Hannah a hard word, a hard mission. He has set her feet on a hard path. And now, as she stands before Eli with her son’s hand in hers preparing to turn around and leave him, she trusts that God will keep her feet to the path that He has established.
She walks the path, but it’s not easy. Her prayer reveals her struggle, and her strength. She knows God. She rests on him. She trusts in him. And she looks ahead to a day when all will be right.
Elkanah and Hannah give their little guy a last hug. She tries to be brave, but leans on her husband as she turns and walks out of the temple. What a long walk back home. And I’m guessing that if anyone had quoted Romans 8:28 to Hannah at this moment, she wouldn’t have wanted to hear it.
I don’t think Hannah doubted for a minute that God works all things together for good for those who love him, for those who are called. But I don’t think she needed to hear that God is still in control. But, let me be honest. Maybe I’m just drawing from my own experience.
When we were in Ukraine, and I received that email and saw the pictures (which you really don’t want to see), I didn’t need Romans 8:28. What I needed was God. And I needed my husband. I didn’t need him to tell me that it would be all right. I knew that. Really, I did. And I didn’t need him to fix it. He couldn’t. In the big picture kind of way. I just needed him with me and to pray with me and to help me do the next thing.
Hannah managed to get home. Somehow she got through that day, and the next. And she did the next thing. We don’t know the details, but we know that she stayed with her husband and she stayed with God. And she was still a mom to Samuel.
Every year she made him a linen robe . And, once a year, she and Elkanah walked the road from Ramah to Shiloh and saw their boy. Every year they marveled at his growth, not only in stature, but in his love for God. He didn’t just serve the Lord by serving Eli. He served God, and walked with him, and loved him. (1 Samuel 2:18-21)
Piper’s arm healed. And I would say miraculously. There is not one single scar. We stayed in Ukraine for weeks and weeks. Eventually, we made it home with Katya. But, I’m not going to lie. It was hard. Really hard. More than once, I wanted to abort the mission and just get home.
And life is still hard. Not just the adoption part, but life. Life is hard, folks. Can we be honest? Can we get real? Life is just hard. In my circle, I have people who are going through painful stuff in marriage, with their kids, with their health, with finances … I’m sure you do too. And there’s nothing I can do to fix it. They don’t need Romans 8:28. What they need is what Hannah had.
Hannah trusted God when she was barren. She trusted God when she was misunderstood. She trusted God when he spoke such a hard word to her. She trusted God as she walked her hard path. Do you trust God? Do you have faith?
Hannah had her husband. Now, he wasn’t perfect. At all. Not with his two wives. But it seems like he really loved Hannah and was there for her. He had confidence in her relationship with the Lord. He truly was a friend to her. Do you have a real friend in your life?
Hannah had a zeal for God and for his glory. She knew that her joy was bound up in his glory. More than escaping the pain of leaving her son literally at the altar, she wanted God to be glorified in her life and ultimately in the world. She had burning zeal. Do you have a fiery passion for God and his glory?
Hannah trusted God, that he eventually would do a Romans 8:28 over this old world. Just take a look at 1 Samuel 2:10. She didn’t ask God for her own future, at least not that we know of, but he gave her one. He enabled her to keep seeing her son, to keep being mom in his life. And God gave her more children, three sons and two daughters. He didn’t have to do this, but he did. Do you believe that God has an ultimate future that is good?
Hannah had a hard path. I cannot imagine going through what she went through. But, in reality, we leave our children at the altar all the time, right?
I’ve seen people face hard things and lose their faith. Rather than push close to God, they push God away.
I believe that our faith doesn’t have to die when we face hard things. I believe that by God’s grace, we can stay the course, not shrink back. Not in our own strength, or understanding. But bruised, battered, scared, we can hold fast. I believe there is one key that enables us to have the kind of faith that Hannah had.
Here it is. Here’s the key. You and I … we have to fix our eyes on Jesus. We have to take our eyes off of the wind and the waves and get them on Jesus. Don’t try to calm the storm. Don’t try to fix the problem. It may not be able to be fixed. But fix your eyes on Jesus.
Hunker down into John and just read, and pray, and cry, and ask hard questions. Journal your pain. Don’t shy away from it. Be honest about it. Be brutal in your honesty with God and with your close friend. Above all, do not turn away from Jesus. He is your lifeline. He is your life. And as you fix your eyes on him, your faith will be strengthened and you will gain a hope that will see you through the present reality.
Have you been on a hard path? Are you there now? Or are you alongside someone else? Leave a 1-3 word comment simply naming the hard path. If you’d like to go into more detail, feel free. Or write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll pray, write you back, and come alongside in any way that I can.