For many people having a child is the deepest yearning that they have. Not everyone is able to have children. Some have gone through miscarriages. Many more have gone through stillbirths. Still more lose their children when they were young. When dreams of our deepest longings are destroyed, hope often soon follows.
Hannah was not able to conceive. This created a trial for her. Her fellow wife made her miserable and used her own children as emotional weapons against Hannah. Hannah’s husband probably felt as lost as Hannah did. While he did have children with his other wife, his heart hurt for Hannah. It would seem, on its surface, to not have been the best experience between Hannah and Eli. In fact, Eli did not seem to be much of a spiritual counselor, but more like a grumpy old man. Regardless, Hannah took something away from that encounter, and the weight in her heart was cast off. She had hope.
The Shunammite woman (oddly, never named), too, wish for a child. In an echo of Abraham and Sarah, apparently he (at least) was old. A child seemed out of reach. In the case of Hannah, age wasn’t mentioned, implying that she would be unable to explain the situation. The Shunammite woman, on the other hand, had a rationale for her lack of hope. She “knew” that things had passed a point of no return. Elisha was able to restore that hope with a promise. What she had experienced with Elisha is open for thought. Whatever her experience with him allowed her to trust his words, and to have hope.
The author of Hebrews is trying to instill this same kind of trusting hope into believers who are feeling under pressure and persecution. The writer, through the examples given, shows that God is worthy of having hope in. Not the weak hope of a wish, but the firm hope of knowing that God is there, and working in and through all things, even when we don’t understand, and especially when it is scary and it hurts.
1) Have you ever had a hard time you had to have hope in God to make it through? What was it like to have that hope?
2) What do you think the key to having hope and trust in the darkest parts of life?
3) Why do you think “death to life” is important concept in hope?
FD) What do you do to have hope when you are struggling?