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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | 1 Samuel 2:1–10

Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in my God. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in my victory. “There is no Holy One like the Lord, no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry are fat with spoil. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn. The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low, he also exalts. He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world. “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness; for not by might does one prevail. The Lord! His adversaries shall be shattered; the Most High will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king, and exalt the power of his anointed.” (NRSV)

This passage is “Hannah’s Prayer.” Her jubilant and unshakable trust in her Lord radiates off the page and washes over the reader like the ocean tide. She exults that it is only in her Lord that she finds strength and protection. Salvation is from God and God alone.

She warns against the human tendency towards arrogance. The inequities that plague humankind—rich vs. poor, powerful vs. weak, hopeful or hopeless—these labels, before God, find no purchase and fall away. Clean slate! The playing field is leveled.

God raises up those who put their trust in God. The labels and beliefs that each of us carries around, whether self-imposed or placed upon us, are of no consequence when you choose to follow the Lord. In and through God, anything is possible and we are limitlessly made new each time we stumble and ask for forgiveness.

I am again and again swept away by the simplicity and complexity of salvation through God. The sense of relief and comfort and well-being! 

Reading this scripture verse takes me back to elementary and middle school, when I would open my lunch to find a note from my mom. Sometimes it was silly, always it was loving, and receiving it made whatever worry I had seem much less threatening. Her note reminded me that my concern was a passing thing and that love and reassurance was waiting for me beyond it.

Isn’t that God’s message to us? Love and salvation are available to us as children of God and triumph over and beyond whatever befalls us.

Creator God, my heart rejoices with your steadfast love. In your eyes, I am enough. Even when I stumble, your love waits beyond my weakness. May I think and act compassionately towards others in thanks and gratitude. Amen.

Written by Holly O’Mara, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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