Do Remember Me – Pentecost 22

October 16, 2016
I Samuel 1:4-20 and 2:1-10

Do Lord, O, Do Lord, O do remember me,
Do Lord, O, Do Lord, O do remember me,
Do Lord, O, Do Lord, O do remember me,
Way beyond the blue.

I was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome a few years ago.  For the uninitiated, this is considered a form of high-functioning autism on the spectrum.  The diagnosis answered a lot of questions that I had, but the knowledge also created a sense of isolation.  No matter what you do, people don’t always understand what it means to have High-Functioning Autism.  People, even those close to you, don’t always understand what you are going through.  All of the sudden, you feel that you are alone, because no one really gets what you are dealing.

I can only imagine how it feels for women when they face infertility.  There would have to be some sense of isolation, a sense that in a world where everyone is happy, you are the only sad person in all the world.

hannaIn our text, we are introduced Elkanah, a well-to-do Israelite that has two wives.  One wife, Peninnah, was able to give Elkanah many children, while the other wife, Hannah wasn’t able to have children. Hannah’s barreness said many things about the women in ancient times. If a woman was barren, it was usually considered the woman’s fault. People around Hannah would wonder what she had done to earn this judgement from God. This is why her co-wife Peninnah would taunt her.

Not having children could also be an issue of life or death for a woman. If Elkanah died, the inheritance would go to Peninnah’s sons. She would have to rely on the kindness of those sons. Because she had no son, she could end up on the street if Peninnah’s sons chose not to help her.

On top of all this, she would have to deal with the shame of being infertile. Not only was Peninnah taunting her, but you have to think the other women in the town were talking as well. She probably had no one to turn if just to vent.

The men in her life weren’t much help either. Elkanah loved Hannah more than Peninnah, and showed her kindness. He tires to tell her that he is worth more than 10 sons. He meant well, but it wasn’t really helping Hannah.

When she prayed to God in the temple, Eli the priest chastised her, thinking she was drunk. Again, not helping.

Hannah was alone. No one could help her, let alone understand her.

In desparation, she prays to God. She asks for God to remember her, when everyone else forgot about her.

God didn’t forget. Before she even conceived, her sadness went away. Maybe her husband couldn’t understand her. Maybe her co-wife was mean. Maybe the priest was rude. But God remembered her and that made her feel that she wasn’t alone. I think that’s why she could raise her voice in song in chapter two, because God remembered her in her moment of weakness.

People may not understand when we face hard times, but we can trust that God always remembers us and that can make us feel a little less lonely.

Dennis Sanders is the Pastor at First Christian Church of St. Paul in Mahtomedi, Minnesota. He’s written for various outlets including Christian Century and the Federalist.

 

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