Expectant hope was the motherly motivation that produced one of the greatest prophets in biblical history—Samuel. His mother, Hannah, left us a legacy of hope which had a tremendous influence not only on her son Samuel, but also on Mary, the mother of Jesus, 1,000 years later.During these next four weeks of Advent, I’ll be sharing a series entitled “The Women of Christmas” and we’ll take a moment to think about the legacies of expectant hope, joy, love, and peace they left for us.
The giggly gurgles of a baby are some of the sweetest sounds on earth. That fresh, squeezably soft infant skin has a fragrance all its own. Twinkling tiny eyes that blink with delight can bring joy to any heart. God sends babies to us in cute packages. Yet, not everyone gets one.
I remember my own deep, painful yearning for a child during my early thirties. Still single and hoping to have a family of my own someday, I would be brought to silent tears simply by the sight of a laughing toddler in a grocery cart on my way in to the grocery store. Thankfully, I had the secure resources of faith and friends that helped me endure those painful times. And I chose never to lose hope for a family—whatever shape it might take. (Keep reading for the rest of the story.)
After years of suffering childlessness and its accompanying taunting, tears, misery, and feeling misunderstood, Hannah chose to appeal to the one source she believed could help: God. God answered her prayer for a child and she named him “I asked him of the Lord”—Samuel. Then she fulfilled the vow she had made by giving up her opportunity to rear Samuel to manhood and instead took the young child to live with the priest Eli at the tabernacle of the Lord in Shiloh to serve God all his life. What a sacrifice!
Surely it was the influence of Hannah’s deep faith and example of hopeful praying which helped prepare a young Samuel for the important role he would later play in a major transition in Israel’s history: God led Samuel to anoint the first two kings of Israel! Hannah’s story lived on in the hearts of the people and was written down and preserved for future generations. Portions of Hannah’s prayer became part of Mary’s Magnificat we read in Luke 1.
The story of Hannah from 1 Samuel 1-2 shows us characteristics of someone living with expectant hope. Her example reveals 4 habits of a hopeful heart that can transform you into a woman who lives and leads with expectant hope.
This Christmas, let others see your Expectant, Hopeful Heart by . . .
1. Making plans for a hope only God can fulfill. Hannah’s vow to give her child back to God to serve God all his life shows how she believed in God’s ability so much that she could make strategic decisions even before her prayer was answered. Do you trust God enough to make plans before you see God’s answer, or do you wait—just in case God can’t/doesn’t come through? Which approach honors God?
2. Expressing God’s peace with expectant hope on your face. Hannah’s faith in God’s power showed in her attitude and actions. Scripture says “her countenance was sad no longer.” Have you considered what your face is telling others about your hope in God?
3. Remembering to thank and praise a faithful, strong, and active God. Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2 is full of words of gratitude for specific things God has done for her country, for the poor and weak, and for her personally. Hannah’s prayer also expresses different attributes of her God who acts on behalf of people. Are you as careful to thank God as you are to write thank-you notes for acts of kindness you’ve experienced? How do you talk about God’s activity in your personal life?
4. Entrusting the future to God’s purpose and power. In the last sentence of Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2:10, two prophecies are expressed: that there will be a king in Israel’s future and that there will be a Messiah. Hannah’s prayer is the first time in scripture where the word translated “anointed” (which in Hebrew is “messiah”) is used prophetically. Is there a message God is asking you to share—maybe for the first time– with your listeners or readers?
Regardless of the types of longing in your heart, God is able to fulfill them. I know, because my young adult dreams of a family included a husband and three children: a son, a daughter, and another son—in that order. (I am sure God chuckled at my plans.) Yet, in God’s perfect timing (including the invention of the internet so I could meet my future husband!), I finally married at the age of 46. That blessing also came with the (grown) children of my dreams: a son-in-law, who is the oldest, married to my stepdaughter in the middle, and also my stepson, who is the youngest. I have to say, the presence of these 4 people in my life (and now 3 grandchildren as well!) is a daily reminder to me that I serve a faithful, loving God who fulfills our hopes beyond our wildest imaginations.
Join the conversation below . . .
What are you HOPING for this Christmas?