I can think of several movies that paint a memorable picture of hope. One of my favorite’s as a child was the The Neverending Story. A boy, Bastian, sneaks away with this book, an epic novel about the fantasy land of Fantasia. The land is being overcome by “The Nothing”, a darkness that destroys everything in its path. The Kingdom needs a helper to survive.
As Bastian is reading this story, it comes to life before him. In the climax of the story the world of Fantasia is falling apart, the child empress, a young girl, calls out to Bastian. She pleads with him that he is their only hope. “Call my name!”, she cries repeatedly as the world is disappearing all around her!
The resolution of the story comes when the boy finally admits to himself that he is who the girl is pleading with, he responds to her plea to call her name. The storms all around them settle, the world begins to vanquish the darkness it had succumb to, and the light returns.
There are many more stories in the Bible that paint a beautiful and truepicture of hope. One such story is that of Hannah, a woman who felt she had no hope, or so it may seem. In 1 Samuel 1-2, we find Hannah’s account.
We see she had blessings in her life – She was married to a man that loved her and cared for her deeply, we see an example of this in 1 Sam. 1:5. Throughout her life she was a woman full of faith, one of beautiful prayer, and one that trusted God.
In contrast she was also brokenhearted – This plays out through 1 Sam. 1. She longed for the child she could not conceive. She was criticized and provoked by Peninnah, her husband’s other wife who had many children. We can imagine anguish.
Her burdens become more than she can bear, she runs away from all the noise, and falls to her knees crying out to God, praying in near silence as she has nothing left inside her.
God hears her prayer, just as He has heard all the others. But this was the time He had waited for, this was the perfect time, Hisperfect time. God gives her what she has been longing for so long, He gives her a son, Samuel.
This story would be a beautiful one if it just ended here, but God. The birth of Samuel, however, was the beginning of much more than the fulfilment of one woman’s hope for a son. She gives back this child she desired for so long. God blesses her with more children through her continued faith. But even still there was much more ahead that Hannah could never possibly grasp. She perhaps has a glimpse of it in her prayer, seen in 1 Sam. 2:1-10:
My heart rejoices in the Lord;
my horn is lifted up by the Lord.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
because I rejoice in your salvation.
There is no one holy like the Lord.
There is no one besides you!
And there is no rock like our God.
Do not boast so proudly,
or let arrogant words come out of your mouth,
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and actions are weighed by him.
The bows of the warriors are broken,
but the feeble are clothed with strength.
Those who are full hire themselves out for food,
but those who are starving hunger no more.
The woman who is childless gives birth to seven,
but the woman with many sons pines away.
The Lord brings death and gives life;
he sends some down to Sheol, and he raises others up.
The Lord brings poverty and gives wealth;
he humbles and he exalts.
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the trash heap.
He seats them with noblemen
and gives them a throne of honor.
For the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s;
he has set the world on them.
He guards the stepsof his faithful ones,
but the wicked perish in darkness,
for a person does not prevail by his own strength.
Those who oppose the Lord will be shattered;
he will thunder in the heavens against them.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth.
He will give power to his king;
he will lift up the horn of his anointed.
God was about to move mightily throughout Israel. Samuel would be an earthly vessel for this great movement. There would be judgement as well as salvation ahead. The battle would be great, but not all would see or know the outcome. God is faithful, as he was to Hannah. His timing perfect- just as it was in the gift of Samuel.
The story was not through, then or now. God will have the glory, His people will see a harvest of blessing and salvation, and a kingdom will be restored!