Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the LORD’s house. In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the LORD, weeping bitterly. As she kept on praying to the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”
“Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”
Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”
taken from 1Samuel 1:1-17
I chose a rather long Bible passage for today's devotion but bear with me because today's devotion is rather different than normal.
I didn't get married until I was 27 years old. I didn't plan on waiting that long before I met and married my husband but it just worked out that way. For most of my twenties holidays and family get togethers were NOT something I looked forward to because inevitably I was faced with the questions, "Are you dating anyone?" or "When are you going to get married?" I figured the day a relative asked me if I was a lesbian was the day that I stopped going to family get togethers.
It wasn't that I WANTED to be alone all those years. It hurt. I was full of anger and grief when I saw one of my sisters or cousins happy with their boyfriend/fiance/husband. Why couldn't I have that? I was miserable and darn, WHY did my family keeping having to remind me of my horrible lot in life by bringing up those questions year after year?? At least it was never my parents or grandparents who bombarded me with those questions, it always seemed to be the "crazies" in my family. But it didn't mean the questions hurt any less.
Poor Hannah. Her story has always resonated with me. Her husband loved her and could have cared less whether she had children or not but it was the rest of her family and society that kept questioning and looking down on her because she wasn't a mother like other women. Yet, year after year she had to be reminded of her pain and grief of being childless. She wasn't bound to forget it whether she was reminded or not! It wasn't she complained loudly about either, she prayed in her heart, quietly, for a child.
I said today's devotion was a bit different because I want to ask you readers a favor. Please don't ask questions this holiday season.
Is there a young couple who still don't have children after 3,4,5 years of marriage? Don't ask. Maybe they are trying desperately to have a baby and it just isn't working. They are already stressed and full of anguish and fear. Please don't add to their sorrows by asking when they'll have a baby. You asking isn't going to make a baby happen any sooner.
What about the young single man/woman in your family who still doesn't have a significant other? Don't ask. It is our human nature to find companionship with others, of course, but that doesn't make it easier to find. That young single doesn't want to be reminded AGAIN that they are all alone. They know it well enough, they are reminded every day and being alone stinks.
Put yourself in someone else's shoes. How would you like to be hounded year after year about marriage and babies when it's all you've ever wanted but have yet to find the key to. Instead, if you are really concerned about a certain family member, and not just NOSY, ask if you can pray for them. Help them pray for that ONE THING their heart desires most of all; a baby or a loving spouse or whatever.
I never had anyone ask to me if they could pray for me during those single years. (One friend did offer to buy my membership on Harmony.com though) But praying for someone will bring more peace to their lives than questions ever could. Like Eli the priest, he blessed Hannah that what she prayed for was given to her. He didn't know what she was praying for only that she prayed for it with all her heart. Pray for them please...no questions.
Dear Heavenly Father, our Earthly family are close to our hearts and thoughts especially during the holiday season. Reveal to us Lord how we may best help and support our loved ones this year and the years to come. Amen.