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I was constantly challenged as a younger woman when it came to the concept of grace. I heard so many definitions and it never computed for me. I was your number one doer and giver and felt things very deeply (Two on the enneagram if you are into that sort of thing.) I saw the needs and met them, striving to experience the love of others and of God. Grace to me was this thing that was for everyone else and I wrestled inside whenever I heard the word or studied a scripture that highlighted the subject. This is where Hannah comes into the picture, an unlikely hero but a woman who exuded bravery, her name meaning Grace and her bravery being that she kept on showing up!
We meet (Hannah) Grace in 1 Samuel 1, we hear a lot about what her life looks like, the rhythms that she kept with her family and the frustrations and the yearnings. Grace's womb was closed by God, yet Grace's husband loved her with a double portion kind of love. The other woman in the family was called Peninah, Pearl in biblical hebrew, she was indeed an irritant (think about how a pearl is made) to Grace! Pearl had all the kids and on the outside was the fruitful one, she also perpetuated an unkindness in the way she continued to rile Grace, continually highlighting her infertility. The thing is though, Grace kept on going to God in whatever form her frustration took.
The family went to the temple to offer to God every year, the text tells us, this was a holy rhythm for them and my imagination has often thought about the situation. I wonder how many times she went before taking the next steps in the story. I mean, we see that she went there with her distress but maybe she only got to the city gate the first time, maybe the next time she made it to the foot of the hill where the temple was, maybe the next year she made it to the doorway of the temple, and then it was not only till a few years later that she made her vow and the trajectory started to change.
As Grace wrestled and then started to use her voice we see a shift. We hear the realities, she names them!! Grace names her yearning and prays to God for a son. What I love about this is that the hebrew takes us into the story even more. Grace prays more literally for a "seed for the people" and she dedicates that seed to God for life.
It's awe inspiring to think that Grace went on to give birth to the first prophet of Israel. She spoke forth her plea, her distress and her vow, she also spoke truth to authority (the Priest at the temple) when he perceived her distress as drunkenness. In this moment she spoke a truth from a profound space of presence, intercession and truth telling. She kept showing up!
Grace was answered and her story highlighted various facets of her name, in my eyes she really lived out the wrestle of receiving and being fully graced. At the end of 1 Samuel 1 we are given this beautiful insight into her condition; "She stood and her face was no longer to herself" (the text says downcast, I went more literal). She went on to call her son, Samuel, God hears!
It's abundant, this grace, this process of knowing its depths cocooned in love. As we come to the end of this month on brave women I want to encourage you to keep on showing up. Yes, it's hard, its irritating even. Sometimes it's so painful the words don't even come out, but please believe me when I say, I found grace more fully because I kept on showing up. I experienced God as one who heard me, and He did answer my cry! You are a brave woman!