In the Beatitudes, Jesus tells us it’s those who are poor in spirit, not the rich, who will inherit the kingdom of God. He tells us the meek, not the proud, will inherit the earth. The power and glory of God belong not to the powerful and glorious who boast of their righteousness but to the weak and miserable who cry out for the righteousness of God.
This glorious upsidedown-ness doctrine is something Jesus learned from His mother, something that’s obvious when you look at the words of the Magnificat, Mary’s famous song of praise where she rejoices in the God who fills the hungry with good things, while sending the rich empty away. And when Mary sings these words, she’s not really singing an original song. The Magnificat is just a reworked version of Hannah’s song of praise that we heard in our reading from 1 Samuel this morning, a song where Hannah rejoices that the full have hired themselves out for bread and the hungry are now full, a song where this one barren woman rejoices in the barren bearing seven while the mother of many is forlorn–a very clear shot at Penninah. All of this is, of course, a clear shot at Peninnah, her husband’s other wife who has spent years demonically mocking her for her inability to conceive.
Now here’s the wonderful and glorious thing. The Beatitudes are the most famous words from the most famous sermon ever preached, a sermon ringing with the promise of big salvation for entire nations and generations, a sermon proclaimed by the most important man who has ever lived, the God/Man Jesus Christ. And the Beatitudes are based on the Magnificat, the most famous words a woman has ever spoken, words spoken by the most revered woman in history. And it’s a song once again rooted in enormous promises of enormous salvation for entire nations and generations. But what was the Magnificat based on? It was based on a very small and very personal struggle of a seemingly insignificant woman. When Peninnah tortured Hannah with her cruelty, this was not the biggest geo-political problem in the world at her time. It probably wasn’t even the biggest sorrow in her town. In the eyes of her friends and family and neighbors, it was probably just a matter of women being catty, something we see a million times a day. And yet, from this seemingly insignificant woman, God brings forth the foundation of the most glorious and wide-reaching Gospel words ever spoken. In Hannah’s seemingly tiny sorrow and tiny joy, God gives us the promise of His unfathomably enormous victory over the greatest sorrows of the universe.
So the point is this: No matter how trivial your sorrows may seem to your neighbors, they are not trivial to God. Your tiny needs are the biggest, most pressing issues in the universe to God because He is your Father and you are His beloved child. In His eyes, the tears of princes are just as urgent as the tears of paupers. So when you pray, pray like your insignificant sorrows are the most significant problems in the universe. Because in the eyes of your Father, they are.