No one can come to Jesus except the Father draw him (John 6:44). Most frequently the Father draws individuals through people in the person’s life. Who shined the light for you? Perhaps a parent, a pastor, a teacher, or a friend. Now that you are serving the Lord, that person’s shadow of influence is lengthening and your own shadow is beginning to develop as you light the way for others.
Mother Hannah came on the scene in a time when Israel was very dark. Men of God were caught up in polluting the house of God—not unlike in our news today. The Holy Word of God was dim thus there was little vision for righteousness. People who claimed to be God’s chosen race were fulfilling egos or self rather than emptying themselves. Even the priests were fulfilling their lustful desires. Nevertheless, our faith in God has never been based on the holiness of other people.
First, we must realize that negative circumstances bring positive opportunities. Hannah lived in the days of polygamy and her husband had another wife who gave him children, while she was childless. This meant certain rejection and being ostracized from society thus sadness and depression would rule her life. However, as someone once told me, God never wastes anything. In the midst of her gloomy situation, Hannah used the opportunity to petition God for a child, and He did not disappoint her.
Second, we must realize that God’s promises are our source of strength. Instead of going to pieces, Hannah went to prayer! She poured out her heart to the Lord. She wasn’t playing church. She was serious about meeting God and hearing from Him. Eli, the priest in charge, was so out-of-tune with God, that he didn’t even realize that Hannah was praying; he thought she was drunk because her lips were moving yet he couldn’t hear her voice. He wasn’t a popular faith preacher with a charismatic personality who held the attention of his audiences for hours while he entertained them from God’s Word. He lacked discernment, and even reprimanded her for not speaking clearly.
At this point, most believers today would have been miffed and left the church. Not Hannah. She had gone to church to talk to God. She wasn’t looking to a person for answers. She explained to Eli that she was sorrowful, not drunk; but she did not give him the reason for her sorrow. Old Eli simply responded to her, Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that you have asked of him (1 Sam. 1:17). Hannah got excited! Her countenance changed from sorrowful to ecstatic. She received that promise from God—not from Eli. She determined not to grow weary and lose heart. She took God by His Word regardless of the circumstances.
Third, God requires separation, so we put Him first in all things. Jesus said, If you love…son or daughter…more than me you are not worthy of me. The Lord gave Hannah a son whom she named Samuel and dedicated to the Lord even though she continued to provide for his physical needs of food and clothing. Before Samuel was conceived, Hannah made a Nazarite vow for the child she believed God would give her. This was a vow of separation from the world, a vow of abstaining from the very appearance of evil, a vow that he would never defile himself. She did not train him in what he could do and still be a believer, but what he could not do because he was a believer. She taught Samuel that God came first in his life. How? By dedicating him to the Lord and never trying to repossess him for her own. She showed him that his body was a temple of God, and that his talents and abilities, his service and time were God’s. As a result, Samuel, grew in wisdom and knowledge of the Lord.
Hannah happened to be a woman, but gender is not important; it is her shadow of influence that reaches us even today. God anointed her son Samuel and none of his words did fall. From a toddler on, he heard the voice of God. People knew that if Samuel spoke they were hearing from God. He was the prophet that brought the voice of the Lord back to Israel. God chose him to anoint David as King. So great was his influence that after Samuel’s death, King Saul in desperation to hear from God asked a witch to contact him in the other world. This anointed Samuel, an influential man of God came to into being as the result of his mother’s prayer and her commitment to the vows she made to God.
Yes, Hannah determined to believe God in the midst of negative circumstances. She determined to hear what God’s Word was and to believe it until it was manifested in her life . She determined to put God first—even to the point of giving her son Samuel totally to the work of the Lord.
As a result, her shadow of influence changed the course of a whole nation and reaches even to us today.
Questions to ponder
What is your aggravation? What negative circumstances cloud your life? Have you turned to the Lord and totally poured it out to Him? Are you searching the scriptures and listening to see what the Lord is saying to you about the situation? Are you determined to live a separated life and not flirt with the world? Will you pour the Word of God into others through your words and example? If so, your shadow of influence will also span many generations to come.
(c) East of Bethlehem, Chapter 21, by C. Yvonne Karl, Brentwood Christian Press, 2003