Emptiness haunts her footsteps, a gaping shadow threatening to engulf her present and paralyze her future. Hollow legacy, like wind sweeping through sterile plain gouged and filled its own chasm in her heart. What was the point of her life if she could not give life to another?
Taunted every moment by happy squeals of another woman’s children, their joy doubling her anguish, she suffered silent. Each successful pregnancy, each living child cut into her soul, the children’s mother knew it, and used it to mock and malign the devalued woman.
Her generous husband loved her, but supposed he could fill her void with himself. She knew he meant well, but his presumptive evaluation of his own worth slit her soul. He did not understand. He would not enter her grief. He would not go where he was not enough. She was still alone.
Her rival’s pride enshrined her in unattainable superiority, and her own shame thrust her into untouchable estrangement. Hot teary rivers stained her cheeks salty white; her stomach repulsed food—what was the point in nourishing this living isolation? Daily function kept her moving, a hollow, listless life.
Then, she capitulated. How it happened, and when, she did not know. It had something to do with Shiloh, the tabernacle, making the yearly trek to worship as a family. She neared the tent of The Presence, where God came to commune with His people. God . . . the Creator, the God-Who-Sees-me, the Covenant-Maker—stories of His intervention through history flooded into her soul. God: the One Who makes barren, and gives life, the One Who owns the fortunes and destinies of man. This God, it was about Him, it was up to Him. Her quarrel was not with her rival, her husband, her community, her culture; it was with her God.
And in worship, the dike broke: she wept liquid anguish, all the bitterness heaving from her soul. Convulsed, speechless, crumpled helpless before God, she remembered His reality: the Lord of hosts. God was God, and she was not.
And in worship, she found her place: a life forfeit, a life surrendered, a life from God, for God. That’s all she was. And it was enough.
And any fruit from her life would be forfeit. No echelon of pride, no pit of shame, no emptiness or fullness—nothing was hers to claim as her own. She lost distinction, and found identity in belonging to God. Here, nothing could touch her, nothing could destroy her, because her whole existence was bound up in the reality of God.
That’s what worship does—it frees us from our beneficial and detrimental confines, and draws our eyes up, to see the Reality beyond us. This God commands our worship, designed us for worship, because He knows it is where we will be fully alive.
Lord, help us, like Hannah, worship You, and succumb to Your utter reality washing, cutting, defining, and filling our entire existence.
Thoughts from 1 Samuel 1