IN THE BOOK of 1 Samuel, we discover that Hannah couldn’t have children; the Lord had “closed her womb” (1:5 ESV).
In a culture where family lineage is a big deal, not having children caused much heartache.
With great sorrow, Hannah wept a vow to God that if he would give her a son, she would give her son to him.
It was a bold prayer, and as soon as you read it, you wonder how it will unfold.
God answered her prayer, and Hannah kept her word. It’s a poignant story.
After weaning her son, Samuel, she took him to the temple to be raised by Eli, the priest.
Every year when Hannah and her husband would make their pilgrimage to the temple to make their sacrifice, she would take Samuel a little robe she had made.
It isn’t hard to imagine the emotion of this annual pilgrimage, especially when the moment came to return home — without her son.
Eli wasn’t perfect, nor were his two sons.
But God isn’t stymied by imperfect people.
In spite of his being raised in a dysfunctional home, God orchestrated some amazing things, and “the young man Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and also with man” (1 Samuel 2:26).
Now zoom ahead about a thousand years.
A family is making their annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover (see Luke 2).
After a day’s journey on their way home after the festive event, father and mother notice that their 12-year-old son is missing.
Panic. Frantic searching.
They head back to Jerusalem and spend three days looking for their son.
Unbeknownst to them, their son had decided to stay in Jerusalem awhile to soak in some more information from the teachers in the temple, and they were pretty impressed with his knowledge.
As you can imagine, when Mom and Dad finally found him, Mom wanted some answers.
“Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress” (Luke 2:48).
(It would have been considerate if their son had texted them of his whereabouts.)
“And he said to them, ‘Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’ And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them.
“And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them …
“And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:49-52).
Both Samuel and Jesus grew in their wisdom, stature and favor with both God and man — and this is my prayer for all the young students returning to school this year.
Whether they’re starting kindergarten, college or anywhere in between, regardless of whatever home or family environment they’re living in, I pray they grow in wisdom, stature and favor with both God and man.
And I pray that God will use them mightily in the unfolding of his plan.
Issues of Faith is a rotating column by four religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Greg Reynolds is pastor of Joyce Bible Church. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.