Then Eli answered, “Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.”
A man named Elkanah from Ephraim has two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah has children but Hannah does not.
Each year, the family goes to sacrifice at Shiloh, and Elkinah portions out the sacrifice amongst the family. For Hannah this emphasises her barrenness.
Hannah goes to the temple to pray. She is so distressed that as she prays she weeps and no words come from her mouth. Eli the priest assumes she is drunk, but when she explains herself to him, he gives his blessing.
In time, Hannah conceives and bears a child.
There is a time for orderly prayer.
There is a time for desperate shouts to the Lord.
And there is a time when words and voice fail us in our distress.
Religious people are always ready to disparage the prayer of desperation, whether they are noisy shouts or wordless sobs. They want religion to be controlled and controllable, civilised and respectable.
Faith is knowing that in the middle of the greatest hurt, at the centre of the worst storm, when life doesn’t make sense, then we cling on to God knowing that He has answers for our need.
Lord God, thank you that you meet me in the darkest places. When hope eludes me and the darkness comes in like a flood, help me to hold tightly to you. Amen.