(a continuation of my previous post)
"The change in my attitude was the result of realizing the implications of belonging to Him. The Son of God died for me! He came to free me from the hopelessness of living for myself. That had to change everything..."
- I Kissed Dating Goodbye (Joshua Harris)
So why Hannah? Hannah Karen Ho isn't the most elegant-sounding name - I could be Karen Elizabeth Ho, or Karen Danielle or Karen Esther or Karen Catherine Ho. I considered all these, for various reasons. (I put Hannah before Karen partly because it reflects putting God first in my life - but, I admit, mostly because Hannah Karen Ho sounds better than Karen Hannah Ho.)
Because I was resolving to live the rest of my life for God, I wanted to search for a biblical character whose problems I could identify with, yet who brought herself out of them, so that I'd remember her in my own struggles. My weakness lies in emotional dependence, in the need to feel needed. That hole in our hearts...my heart is torn flesh, raw and yearning. I was searching for a fallen character who was able to hold on to God's promises and strength.
Hannah's story is told in 1 Samuel 1 and 2. Hannah was one of Elkanah's two wives - the one who couldn't bear children. Elkanah's other wife would taunt Hannah for it, such that Hannah would be reduced to tears, unable to eat. One day, she came to the Lord "in deep anguish, crying bitterly". She prayed that if He were to look upon her sorrow and answer her prayer with a son, she would give that son back to the Lord; he would be His for life.
"But I am very discouraged, and i was pouring out my heart to the Lord... I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow." - 1 Samuel 1:15-16
After doing so, and after receiving Eli's blessings, she "went back...and she was no longer sad" (1:18). Soon after, when she slept with her husband, "the Lord remembered her plea, and...she gave birth to a son" (1:19-20). She called him Samuel (asked of God), because she "asked the Lord for him" (1:20). And when Samuel was three, she brought him to the temple.
"I am the woman who stood here several years ago praying to the Lord. I asked the Lord to give me this boy... Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life." - 1 Samuel 1:26-28
And then comes the beautiful 1 Samuel 2:1-10, Hannah's prayer.
My heart rejoices in the Lord! The Lord has made me strong.
Now I have an answer for my enemies; I rejoice because you rescued me.
No one is holy like the Lord! There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.
No one will succeed by strength alone. Those who fight against the Lord will be shattered...
He gives power to his king; he increases the strength of his anointed one.
Those who know me well would understand why I fell in love with Hannah's story. When I read her prayer, I knew this was it.
I sense Hannah had her problems - infertility, inferiority to her husband's other wife - and she seemed sensitive and emotional. Hannah gave herself the space to cry. But she lifted her problems to the Lord, and promised to give her blessing back to Him. Imagine the joy of having a son after so long! Yet she remembered her word and sent him to the temple to live, dedicating his life back to Him. (And she was blessed with five other children later.) And after it all, she rejoiced in God's strength, declaring that no one succeeds by their own power.
I am very sensitive and emotional. I give myself the space to be sad, as anyone who reads my blog can tell. But do I let it end there, sad and lost? Or do I turn them over to the Lord, leave my life in His hands, and promise to follow Him all the days of my life? I am so weak, and my greatest need is inner strength. This is God's greatest potential in my life. There is no greater anchor for my soul, and my aching heart, than God and His unshakeable love and promises.
And when God blesses me with His strength and grace, do I remember Him and my own promises?
Here I declare it: as my old self has died with Jesus and I come to a new life in Christ, I will seek to follow You all the days of my life, as You love me. I am still weak and imperfect, but I will let You take control. My heart will continue to break as I falter, but Your grace will see me through; I will not succeed by my own strength, but by holding on to Your perfect love.