by Rev Lai Kai Ming
Readings: 1 Samuel 1:1-2:21; Psalm 125
READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
1 Samuel 1:8 (NLT)
“Why are you crying, Hannah?” Elkanah would ask. “Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me—isn’t that better than having ten sons?”
Whenever I read this verse, I can’t help but laugh. Poor Hannah, being asked two dumb questions and then one more dumber one! As a husband, like Elkanah, I confess to sometimes asking dumb and insensitive questions. And the problem is because I have forgotten to step into the shoes of the one suffering. Yes, Elkanah was a nice husband who pampers his childless wife with double portions. Yet he could not fathom why a child was so important to Hannah. All he could think of was himself as the solution of all problems.
Be quick to listen, slow to speak, the book of James teaches us. If Elkanah would spend more time listening, he would probably have kept silent. None of us can fully understand the suffering of our neighbor. Instead of trying to offer unhelpful words of comfort, perhaps we should just cry with them. One reason why I sometimes ask dumb questions is because I become impatient. I wish inside that the problem would go away ASAP, so that everyone can be happy and move on with life. But no. That’s not the way to love, and live.
Lord, teach me to love in a way that makes sense to the one loved.