22 December 2017
Today two women show us how a Christian trusts God.
For the past few days, we have followed the familiar story of Hannah. Although much loved by her husband, Hannah was unable to bear children. In her distress, she prays at the Temple, and after being initially misidentified as a drunk, she receives a blessing from Eli, the Priest. Hannah believes – “YHWH Yireh” – “God sees, God will provide.’ In due course, she conceives and bears Samuel. God has provided!
However, Hannah faces a second, perhaps harder test of faith. She has vowed to dedicate her son to the Temple. We do not know precisely at what age the child would be given up, some commentators think six to twelve years, and in the meantime, Hannah has not had any more children. If she quietly abandoned her vow, who beyond her husband would know? Hannah decides to trust in God. In the following chapter, we will hear Hannah’s song of praise to the Lord. We will also understand that after dedicating Samuel, Hannah will have five more children however Hannah does not know this when she praises God.
In the Gospel text, Mary is visiting her cousin, another apparently barren woman now pregnant. Mary has accepted God’s terrifying call upon her life. She knows something wonderful is coming, but at this point, she is surrounded by uncertainty. Again, this woman of faith breaks into praise at the works of God, echoing Hannah, her foremother in faith.
Both women’s songs tell of God overturning the established order. In Hannah’s day, the faith had fallen into disorder; we will soon hear of corruption in the Temple and a nation in danger of annihilation. Mary saw an equally compromised religious culture and Israel had fallen under the thrall of Rome. For both women, their social and spiritual worlds were in disarray, but by faith, they confidently looked to God for deliverance
This is why Hannah and Mary (and Elizabeth) are such wonderful guides for us now. Our culture is chaos, our faith is under constant attack, perhaps our personal lives are equally difficult, but God is still God. YHWH Yireh – God sees! He knows our travails, and He will provide. Like Hannah, Elizabeth and Mary we must first put our trust in the Lord. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.