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  • Writer's picturePastor Hans Fiene

Matins Devotion: July 17, 2023

In our reading from 1 Samuel this morning, Hannah is looking for comfort and struggling to find it. Hannah is grieved to her soul by barrenness but she finds little help from the men she should be able to trust but who ultimately prove to be less than trustworthy. First, you have her husband Elkanah who certainly loves his wife and wants to take away her pain. He tries. But he’s a fool who can’t manage his household in a way to protect Hannah from his other wife’s cruelty and who takes Hannah’s pain and uses it as a weapon against her, ultimately telling her that the real problem of her barrenness is that it shows how he’s not enough for her.

Then you have the priest Eli whose job is to pour out the mercy of God on women like Hannah. And certainly Eli takes that responsibility seriously. So in a general sense, of course, he loves his God and his people. But when one of his people expresses spiritual distress in a way he doesn’t quite recognize, Eli immediately assumes the worst about her and rebukes her for being drunk while she’s praying. Hannah should be able to trust her husband. She should be able to trust her priest. But she can’t.

The one she can trust, however, is the Lord, the Lord who closes the womb in order that His mercy might be revealed and the one who opens the womb that His mercy might be revealed. Hannah can trust the one who won’t use her pain against her or casually dismiss her. And ultimately, through the words of her less than trustworthy priest, Hannah finds that comfort. She receives comfort from the author of life who opens her womb and who drives away the grief that no man can drive away.

And in all of this, we see a fulfillment of the words from Psalm 118, “it is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.” Men will fail you. Men who love you at a distance will fail you, men like presidents and generals who don’t know you but who are charged to care for you will fail you. But those closest to you will also fail you. Your husbands and pastors, your mothers and daughters, those you should be able to trust will violate that trust by loving you imperfectly. They’ll try their best and they won’t come close to giving you comfort.

But God will never fail. He may afflict you for a time to fulfill His will, to form you and forge you in the heat of trials, but the Lord’s love for you is and always will be perfect. And the perfection of His love was manifested for you in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There, in the bloody face of God’s own son, you see that God has paid the ultimate price to rescue you from every sin, every sorrow, every tear, every shriek of grief born from barrenness and every other affliction. And in the shining, risen face of our Lord, you see the victory that has now been placed into your hands and into your heart, the victory you couldn’t trust any man to win for you, but that the Lord, the God/Man has now made your eternal possession. In the depths of your sorrow, in the flood of your tears, trust Him and He will show you why He’s worthy.

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