Beside the Well
I have always had a bad habit of reversing my words or saying right when I mean left or up when I mean down. Sometimes use the wrong name of a town or the wrong time when giving instructions. I’m a mess! My husband and children have learned to speak Gail-eeze. But that doesn’t make it any less frustrating when I am trying to get something across and then realize I have been using the wrong descriptive word. I lay it down to a touch of dyslexia, but as I get older, I fear dementia! Oh, that will drive us all crazy!
As we think about Hannah today, I believe we can feel her frustration as she pours out her heart before the Lord in words she cannot even utter aloud. In great anguish of soul for the persecution she was enduring and her deep desire for a child, she kneels at the altar knowing God is her only hope.
Then, the priest comes with a snide comment that must have cut her to the quick, “How long have you been drunk? Stop drinking, woman.”
Immediately defending herself and trying to explain the misunderstanding, she feels dismissed as the priest replies, “Go home. God will answer your prayer.” He didn’t even ask what that prayer was. He didn’t seek to give her comfort or encouragement, just a curt comment, which I believe was his pat answer.
But God answered her prayer and brought it right back to the priest when she showed up a few years later to keep her vow. Don’t you think Eli wished he had paid more attention years ago? His sons are grown, and now he has a small child to raise in the temple.
One of the comforting things about Hannah’s story is that she seems to hold no resentment. She was content to have given birth to Samuel and willing to keep her vow. Her prayer in chapter two of 1 Samuel is a beautiful expression of her confidence. “There is none holy as the Lord; for there is none beside thee; neither is there any rock like our God” (1 Samuel 2:2).
Hannah’s confidence was not in Eli, it was in God. Though man misunderstood her; God understood her heart. He knew her sincerity and her need.
That tells me that even when I don’t know the words to pray, even when my heart is broken, even when I think I’m not making sense, the Holy Spirit will interpret for me. That is exactly what is promised in Romans 8:26, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
I’m so glad God speaks Gail-eeze!