On January 14, Pastor Jim preaches on 1 Samuel 3:1-10.
The story of Hannah, Eli, and Samuel is steeped in loneliness.
Hannah knew the loneliness of being unable to bear children. In desperation she prayed to God at the temple of Shiloh for God to help her.
A priest named Eli was watching her pray with her lips moving as tears streamed down her face. He accused her of drunkenness. Sometimes preachers get it wrong.
Eli was lonely as well. He lived with his two creepy sons who lurked around the temple robbing worshipers of their offerings and doing who knows what else. No wife is mentioned. I picture the old priest shuffling around the temple ignored and irrelevant while his sons did their worst.
Eventually Hannah gave birth to a son whom she named “Samuel.” Samuel was to become the last judge of Israel; the one who would anoint Saul and, eventually in his place, David. Aside from that triumph there is a kicker. In her desperation Hannah promised to give her son back to God, and when the child was weaned she made good on her word.
I had to Google that. A child may be weaned as early as 17 weeks! Imagine her taking her baby and dropping him off at the temple; handing him over to an old priest she had only met once!
Imagine the loneliness of the boy Samuel growing up without his mother. It was a rough time. The Scripture tells us that even God was distant. “The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.” (1 Samuel 3:1)
And yet into the midst of this lonely and troublesome time, God was made known. God spoke and God called. As I’ve pondered the Scripture, it strikes me that God sometimes uses our loneliness. God uses our loneliness to speak, to cause us to ponder where we are in life, and to call us to serve others.
A recent Harris Poll reveals that 72% of Americans experience loneliness. Other studies reveal there is a direct connection between loneliness and the amount of time spent on social media. Consider the irony. We are so connected by devices yet utterly disconnected from real people, ourselves, and God.