January 19, 2022

Justice and Joy in God’s Promise 14-11-2021

141h November 2021 Pentecost 25
(Twenty Fifth Sunday after Pentecost)
Title: Justice and Joy in God’s Promise
(Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 1:4-20 & 2:1-10)
By Heeyoung Lim

1 Samuel 1:4-20 describes the profound suffering and faithful persistence that Hannah embodies. Hannah expresses the abundant hope and thankfulness to the LORD by her song in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. The gratitude and praise come from her experience of despair, but it represents God’s power and faithfulness.
Hannah experienced the insistent trial and is harassed by Elkanah’s second wife for being barren. Peninnah gave Hannah no peace by irritating her. Despite Elkanah’s support, she refuses her portion of the sacrifice and weeps as he offers her words of consolation (7–8). Even her husband’s love cannot remove Hannah’s humiliation or change her state. (20)
Hannah was deeply troubled and was praying out of her great anguish and grief. Especially on a trip to the temple, Hannah prayed silently for a son and was praying in her heart. The only thing she poured out was her soul to the LORD. She prayed and promised to God. If God would give her a son, she would give him to the LORD for all the days of his life.
When Eli saw Hannah was praying, he thought she was drunk, but when she defended herself and explained, he listened and affirmed her. He then sent her away in peace by affirming that Hannah’s asking will find the answer. Hannah seemed to know then that God had heard her prayer. She went back to the family and sat down and ate something (1:18). In her trusting attitude, the depression disappeared, and her sorrow melted away. Hannah’s spiritual victory was gained through the anguish of tearful prayers. In the end, Hannah trusted completely in God’s will for her life.
Upon returning home, Hannah conceives and bears a son, Samuel. He is born to a faithful woman who dedicates to the Lord. God’s hearing goes named in the child “heard of God”, Samuel. Hannah is the one who keeps her word, after a prayer of thanksgiving, she leaves him with Eli, the high priest, to be raised in the temple. Her child will be the one who anoints. God’s promises will be kept and achieved. The Scripture tells us that the LORD remembered her. I believe that God remembers our church member’s existence, prayers, and praises.
In 1 Samuel 2, Hannah wanted a name that focused praise on God for what he had done and not on anything she may have done. Samuel was a gift from God. He was not the product of her strength or her own achievement. She prayed a prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord for his blessing and exalted Him for his great works. Hannah rejoiced in her own experience and exalted in the LORD. “In the LORD” her strength was lifted high, and her boasting was in the deliverance of the Lord. The final section of Hannah’s song rejoiced in her future hope, and she proclaimed that the Lord would guard the feet of those who are faithful to him. Hannah also rejoiced in her God and in God’s way of justice.
Hannah sings the ways of God in “raising the poor from the dust.” Her song is a victory song for the Lord who overturns conventional wisdom and dismantles earthly powers while uplifting the least this world overlooks and oppresses. God’s promises of justice and joy will be kept continually. Encouragement based on God’s promises builds up community.
Hannah connects the personal miracle of bearing a child against all odds to God’s promise for the whole community. The gifts Hannah brings to the community were persistent trust from profound suffering, the existence God remembers, and Samuel who is a gift from God who will be anointed in the promises of God. I appreciate that we all have gifts and talents to be shared in our family, faith community, and this suffering society.
With Hannah, we may sing with joy, celebrating the justice of God that breaks open the future to new life. In her closeness to the Lord, Hannah caught a prophetic glimpse of the coming Messiah, the exalted King who will be the judge of all the earth. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth.
In the meantime, God’s presence will always be with us, helping something new and good to be born out of destruction and sadness. Especially in crisis, time seems to stand still, “How long, my God”, or “How long, our Lord” sounds like a familiar lament in the past or present. However, history remains in God’s good care. God’s promises will be fulfilled, and His presence links past, present, and future in hope.
Mark emphasizes the danger to faith that will arise after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. In Mark 13, Jesus said to his disciples, “watch out that no one deceives you.” At least three times Jesus warned his disciples to “watch out” or “be on your guard” several times. Jesus wants us to live life in alertness and awareness.” Jesus warned his disciples not to be deceived by imposters who claims of themselves or others to be the returning Messiah. Jesus warned us not to be deceived by such false prophets who claimed to know when Jesus was returning.
In Mark 13, Jesus prepares his people, both present and future believers, for the end times. Jesus begins the preparation of his disciples for the end times by warning them about false saviours and false signs. (5) Mark puts this story close to the time when Jesus is arrested. Jesus knew there would be troubling and difficult times ahead and He wanted to give His disciples something to live as true believers and disciples no matter how bad things get.
How has faith sustained through difficult times? What might our church members encourage each other in hope? Together we are the body of Christ, and individually members of it! We can have confidence in the certainty of God’s Word. God’s creating and redeeming power is at work in, with, and under the circumstances and actions of all the events of our lives. Our saviour, Jesus wanted to prepare His people to be ready to face the present and the future world with confidence even in the midst of suffering. May we all discern God’s will in any situation and live by keeping our faith.
I believe that God helps us to recognize that God is with us and he gives us joy and justice in His promises even though we are in the midst of natural disasters, socio-economic distress, emotional and spiritual challenges, and many kinds of uncertainty.
We do not know when Jesus will return, but in the light of Christ’s returning, may we thank God for each day he has given us to live for Him. May we have ongoing awareness that the things of this world will not endure forever and there will come a Last Day only God knows. We are commissioned by God to spread the gospel, especially in the light of Christ’s return. We are to live life consciously and not complacently. May we pray for the Lord to help us live life consciously each day and ask Him to help us be willing to witness for him while we are waiting for his return.
Thanks be to God! Amen. 
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)