Fighting Offense

Fighting Offense

Our Reading for The Day

12 As she was praying to the Lord, Eli watched her. 13 Seeing her lips moving but hearing no sound, he thought she had been drinking. 14 “Must you come here drunk?” he demanded. “Throw away your wine!”

15 “Oh no, sir!” she replied. “I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord. 16 Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.”

-1 Samuel 1:12-15 NLT

We Have a Lot to Learn

Today, I’d like to speak to strength in those who feel fragile, wisdom to those questioned unfairly, and humility to those who have every reason to be offended. I have been there, sis. I've been there, and depending on the day, I might be there right now.

However, I'm grateful for Hannah. Have I mentioned that yet? We have so much to learn from her, but it's going to require us to slow down and take the time to study her demeanor and the responses she gave so poignantly. When I think of grace, her face (or the face I picture her to have) comes to mind, and I have a feeling it will come to yours too when we're finished.

Her humility transformed her legacy...

Hannah may not have been a type-A personality, an enneagram 7 or 8 as we like to say nowadays, but she very well could have been. We just don't know more than the Bible tells us or even infers. We do know:

  • she was most likely the older of the two wives because the infertility she experienced would have encouraged Elkanah to find a second wife, given the cultural mores of the day.
  • she was discontent in her situation.
  • she let her husband know she was discontent and unhappy.

Hannah wasn't any holier than us. We all get so mad we want to cry. We all try to honor our husbands by staying quiet when their family members offend us. To put it simply, Hannah had the same issues we have: annoying family members, deferred dreams, and pain. One thing that might have differed between her and us is that she was humble. That humility transformed everything about her. What about us?

Pain Has a Way of Humbling Us.

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Whether we would describe ourselves as humble or not, pain has a way of humbling everyone, and we are no exception. If we let that pain work for our good, that is.

Yes, humility is a good thing. The word tells us that God opposes the proud, but He gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). It helps us to win favor with God and people. Contrary to what culture would make us believe, it actually opens doors for us.

Think back to how your pain gave you a new perspective about what you thought you knew. Think about how your pain helped you empathize with others you could never have understood before it entered your life.  Think about how your pain helped you connect to an entirely new community of people you never knew existed or could benefit you. Pain humbles us, and I don't think Hannah was any different.

I hope you realize I'm trying to hone in on the fact that Hannah wasn't a superhuman. It's important that we can realize her methods are absolutely within our reach. In fact, we learn that she let Elkanah, her husband, know when she was displeased with the fact that she didn't have children right around verse 8. Thankfully, these short glimpses into her life help us normalize our own experiences.

So when she goes to pray and the priest accuses her of being drunk, we have every right to believe that she was tempted with offense.

Offense is Contagious

Offense is contagious, and we have to protect ourselves from it by pressing into the secret place with God more deeply when it begins to rise. Pressing in to prayer causes other people and their cruel ways lose the power to hurt us.

How would you have reacted if you'd finally chosen to pour your heart out to God in prayer only to be accused of drunkenness by the priest? Hannah could have easily allowed the misplaced offense she felt when Eli addressed her to morph into an offense herself, but she continued to seek the Lord.

What we say is made up of the words we choose, the body language that accompanies it, and the emotion expressed in our voice when we speak. I appreciate that these scriptures teach us Hannah knew how to advocate on her own behalf without usurping her authority by continuing to honor God without embarrassing others. What would happen if we chose to speak to the One who has the power to change it all instead of allowing the others to change us?

I Feel Sorry for Eli

Staring indignantly back at the page, after I read how he'd accused Hannah of being drunk, I was offended for her myself. I slowly began to feel sorry for Eli. Hannah could have allowed some righteous indignation in her pride to rise up when he accused her of being drunk, but she didn't. Instead, she continued to share her heart, and it helped to heal a place in Eli as well.

I always wondered how it could be that he (a priest) mistook her for a drunk woman, and when I did, I thought about all the times those in leadership misunderstood my intentions as well. But upon looking at my own heart and seeking humility in light of Hannah's example, I now feel sorry for him.

Eli lived when the judges reigned, and the people were corrupt and evil. Time and time again, we learn of how Israel prostituted themselves after other gods, and we even see that his own sons, who were also priests, corrupted the office of the priesthood and the temple of the Lord.
I feel sorry for Eli because this was his norm. He was used to seeing drunkenness and debauchery in the temple, and it was that sin that led him to lose his discernment for the things of the Lord.

May we, as the younger generation, cry out for our spiritual mothers and fathers in the faith to be delivered from hopelessness and grief, corrupting influences, and the regret of what they've allowed so that we can learn how not to do the same.

Humility Clothes Others...

Have you ever become more worried about those who are offending God than you have about how you've begun to offend him with the same self righteous behavior? What can we do differently?

We can choose humility. We can feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, invite the stranger in, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, and remember that this is not dictated by class nor culture, but pervades every one.

Sometimes we have to feed the hungry pastor from whose teaching we were once nourished. Sometimes we have to invite the stranger into our hearts so that we may encourage theirs. Sometimes we have to clothe the naked with dignity by humbling ourselves and learning how to respond to the incorrect information with humility as we gently correct them without dishonoring them. Sometimes we have to visit the one who has been imprisoned in their own sin to remind them that Jesus’ blood broke every chain!

Sharpen your discernment so you can meet the needs of those around you, as well as those who come to you, even when you’re in your most fragile state.

Thanks for being here! Want to stay updated with all the good stuff coming in 2022? I'd love to connect and pray with you further!

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