by Tony Nester

Praying in Pain
Tony Nester
1 Samuel 1:4-20

Welcome to the Sunday before Thanksgiving. I hope you have a great holiday on Thursday. However, I know that not every Thanksgiving goes as well as planned.

I know about young woman who was learning how to cook and decided to follow a recipe she found in the paper from the Heloise column. Heloise directed her to put a cup of liquid in the cavity of the turkey when roasting it so that the meat wouldn't dry out. The woman wrote back and said, ''the turkey tasted great, but the plastic cup melted.''

So much for some humor. Now I want to get serious.

The truth is that not everyone is going to have a happy day on Thursday. Some people are going through tough times. Some people's faith is being tested. Some people are in deep pain - pain from physical ailments, pain from losses they have suffered, and pain from some tragedy that has invaded their life.

That's why I want us to spend a little time with the story of Hannah this morning.

In our story Hannah has a thanksgiving meal but ends up in tears. This might not sound like a Thanksgiving Sunday sermon, but I hope to show you otherwise.

Hannah was one of two women who were married to a man named Elkanah who lived in the hill country of Ephraim. The other wife's name was Penninah.

As you might expect such wives did not always get along well with each other. They often saw each other as rivals. This was the case with Hannah and Peninnah.

We know from the story that Elkanah dearly loved Hannah. And yet Hannah lived with chronic sorrow because she had not birthed any children for her Elkanah. This was her inner pain.

Her sorrow was made worse by Peninnah who had birthed children and who made a display of her fertility so as to emphasize Hannah's barrenness.

The worst time of the year for Hannah was the annual pilgrimage Shiloh. This event was something like our Thanksgiving Holiday. There was a temple at Shiloh and there Elkanah would offer ...

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