A Sunday Reflection: ‘Year After Year

A Sunday Reflection: ‘Year After Year November 8, 2015

So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the LORD, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. – 1 Samuel 1:7

It is always surprising to me that God, when orchestrating the saving of the whole world, is careful about the suffering and the trouble of the individual people in the narrative.  It would always be so easy for God to just quickly do whatever it is that he is going to do. But instead, each person is considered in the out working of the text, in God’s own sovereign economy. The bible is about God, but it is about how God brings about his plan through the lives of ordinary sinners.

So Hannah, who has a loving and devoted husband, nevertheless suffers under the unkindness of his other wife. And this goes on “year after year”. It’s not a one time unkindness. It’s not one petty insult that she just needs to forgive and move past. No, it’s the constant drip drip drip of another person having it in for her. Paul, much later, would call this a “light and momentary affliction”, which, when you read that in the middle of your suffering, seems it’s own kind of unkindness.

Why would God allow persistent suffering “year after year”? Is it because himself is unkind? Of course not. It is because he wants each individual person to be flung in despair onto his mercy, as Hanna is only a few verses later. He wants the person who calls on his name to be desperate enough to mean it. And that desperation only comes when you have given up, over time, on yourself.

The bible is about God, but it is about God rescuing sinners because he loves them, and sinners collapsing in a heap of relief and joy, clinging on to his great mercy and love.

A blessed Sunday to everyone!

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