4th Week of Advent
Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 1:24-28
In today’s First Reading, the Church takes us to the home of Elkanah and Hannah, a pious couple who live in the hill country of Ephraim. For the longest time, Hannah was not able to conceive a child. As the story unfolds, she cries out to the Lord in her anguish and grief, the Lord hears her cry, opens up her womb, and Hannah conceives. After so many years, Hannah is finally a mother.
When her son, Samuel, was born, Hannah approached her husband and told him that after he was weaned, she wished not only to present him to the Lord, but to leave him there for the Lord’s service all the days of his life.
Elkanah, being the pious man that he was, agreed to this. In the course of time, when Samuel was weaned, Hannah presented him to Eli the priest and said, “I give my son to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And then she left him there and went home.
That Hannah and Elkanah were able to do what they did is an incredibly powerful testimony regarding the place God had in their hearts. It’s one thing to say “Good-bye” to an adult child who is leaving home in order to strike out on his own. But to part with him – to give him up when he is still just a child – requires a strength, devotion, and love for God that very few of us could ever emulate apart from Heaven’s power. And yet, when it comes to presenting to God what we have been given, we are all called to be an Elkanah. We are all called to be a Hannah.
Both Elkanah and Hannah recognized that their child came to them from God. What comes from God belongs first to God, must be dedicated to God, offered up to God, and given back to God as an act of worship and gratitude. Whether it’s health, wealth, children, gifts, skills, talents, abilities, or time. All that is good comes to us from God, and this must be acknowledged by presenting it to Him and offering it up to Him for His holy purpose.
What has God given to you? What treasures has He entrusted to you? More importantly, in what ways have you emulated Elkanah and Hannah, who took what was given to them and gave it back to God for His glory and service? Most people who live in this world are guilty of taking gifts given to them by God, running off with them, and simply using them for their own pleasures and purposes. Those who have been blessed with wealth purchase property, build mansions, give themselves over to unfettered consumption, and take trips. Very little, if any, ever makes it into the hands of the poor.
Men and women born with beautiful voices sing not for the Lord, but for the world. Individuals who have been given incredible writing talents scribble for men, not for Christ. The same could be said of painters, sculptors, actors, musicians, and all who inhabit the Earth with talents entrusted to them.
One quick glance of the poor parenting that is exhibited on the parts of millions who have been entrusted with children also bears testimony that most men and women in this world do not acknowledge that what they have been given has come to them from God, must be dedicated to God, and offered back up to God for His sacred use.
To the extent that God has first place in a man’s heart is to the extent that all he has been given will be offered back up to God. The story of Elkanah and Hannah is more than just a story about a woman who could not have children, finally got pregnant, and gave back the child to God.
It’s the story about a God who was so loved, feared, and acknowledged in the life of two human beings that when He gave them a gift for which they had long prayed, they presented it back to Him as an act of love, worship, and gratitude. It is not the story of a child who was placed into a woman’s womb at long last; it’s the story of the place God had in the hearts of a husband and his wife.
God has given you many things. Look all around you and survey all that has been entrusted to you within and without. Perhaps at this season in your life, you do not yet have children, but this isn’t a story about children. This isn’t a lesson just for parents. It’s a lesson for all who walk the earth, young and old, married or single. It’s a lesson that speaks of the place God has in each one of our hearts, and a reminder to us that such a place is reflected in what we are currently doing with all that He has entrusted to us.
In the light of today’s Scripture reading, is the Holy Spirit bringing to your mind any adjustments that need to be made in your life? When you examine all that you have done with what God has entrusted to you, is this revealing that perhaps…just maybe… God does not have in your heart the place where He truly belongs?
In today’s journal entry, let’s write about any reflections and thoughts that we have regarding today’s First Reading and what we have just read in this today’s journal prompt.