With the sinking of the Endurance, Shackleton’s crew knew their expedition had failed. As long as the ship remained upright, they could probably muster some hope that they could at the very least return home. But once the ship was swallowed by the sea, their final link to home and safety was gone. They could no longer entertain ideas of returning the way they had come.
Today’s reading gives us a graphic depiction of the anguish of disappointed hopes. Hannah was bereft at the withholding of her heart’s desire, a son. She suffered misunderstanding and judgment from her husband for her grief and was mocked by his other wife. Even Eli, the priest in the Temple, mistook Hannah’s anguished prayer for drunkenness. Still, Hannah continued in her prayers; she recognized there was One who could give her what she most longed for.
We don’t know how long Hannah prayed for Samuel, but we know it was years; and we know that the wait took a toll on Hannah. Waiting can be discouraging and disheartening. I think, however, that the longer we wait for something, the sweeter it is when it finally arrives.
We may face discouragement in our prayers and wonder, Does God hear me? But delay is not necessarily denial. It takes courage, faith, and continued hope to persevere in prayer. Shackleton’s crew was rescued after two years of desperate struggle for survival. Hannah’s years of faithful prayer were rewarded with the blessing she most desired—the birth of her son, Samuel, who was called by God to be a prophet and a judge over Israel.
Perseverance and prayer go hand-in-hand.
We are wise to remember that prayer is not a monologue; it is a dialogue. It is a time of communion between us and God. Are we listening? Pause in your prayer time today and listen with your heart in quiet contemplation. Is what you desire God’s desire as well? If it is, can you find rest in God’s timing?
The inability to have a child brings pain to many today, and this was equally true in ancient times. In that context it was sometimes even worse, for Peninnah openly ridicules Hannah for being unable to conceive. But as a result of Hannah's desperate, heartfelt prayer, God blesses her with a son, Samuel, who will become a powerful prophet. Hannah then rejoices in a God who exalts the poor and needy. Hannah provides an example of the boldness with which we also can approach God now because of Christ’s sacrifice. The destruction of Jerusalem is the focus of the passage in Mark. Jesus here predicts the demolition of the Temple and the city, which the Romans executed in 70 ce.
Read 1 Samuel 1:4-20. How do you persist in prayer when your prayer seems unanswered for a long time?
Read 1 Samuel 2:1-10. How do you express your joy and thanks when God answers your prayer?
Read Hebrews 10:11-25. What helps you to persevere in the practice of your faith?
Read Mark 13:1-8. What signs make you anxious about the future? What helps you to hold on to hope?
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