Names often have great significance in the Bible. God renamed Abram, “Abraham” which meant “father of many” because Abraham would become a father of a great nation. God renamed Jacob, “Israel,” which meant “he struggles with God” and also “prince with God,” to reflect on how Jacob’s relationship with God changed upon meeting him and getting to know him.
And now in this passage, a little boy is named “Samuel,” which means “God has heard.”
A woman named Hannah was miserable because she was childless, which was a shameful thing back in those days. Worse, it’s probably because of that, that her husband took on a second wife who bore him children. And while he still loved Hannah dearly, her rival constantly reminded her of her shame.
And so one day, she went to the tabernacle, and wept before God, promising that she would dedicate her son to him if he would only give her one. And God answered, taking away her shame, and bringing her a joy that was beyond words.
Still one has to believe that she and her husband had prayed for years that God would give them a child. And though God heard, he chose for his own purposes not to say yes until much later.
Sometimes we pray for things, and we wonder if God is really hearing. We pray for a husband or wife. We pray for a job. We pray for healing. And yet nothing happens. And we wonder, “Is God hearing? Does he really care?”
Yes he does. He hears every word you pray. He sees every tear that falls out of your eye. He hears every groan that comes out of your mouth. Yet there are times he tells us to wait. What’s even tougher is when he says no.
The question is, will we trust him regardless of his answer. I know a woman that has been praying for a child for years, and yet has not been able to get pregnant. I don’t know why. And it must be painful for her to think about it. But she has chosen to keep trusting in God, and in his goodness regardless. I don’t know if she’ll ever have a child. Perhaps God’s just saying to wait. Perhaps God is saying no.
What I do know is that he has heard her. And that he cares. And that regardless of whether she ever has a child or not, he has a plan for her and he will bless her life, because she has chosen to follow him no matter what.
Lord, I thank you that you hear our prayers. I thank you that you don’t ignore us. Still Lord, sometimes it’s painful to have to wait for an answer, or to hear your nos. Lord, help me to trust you. Help me to keep following you. And help me to believe that you do have something good in store for me. Because I know you do. In Jesus name, amen.