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In case you don’t know the story, Hannah had been barren for many years and God had finally answered her prayers with a ‘yes’, and given her a son, Samuel. This is Hannah’s prayer of rejoicing.

It is wonderful and joyful and honouring of God. And yet…

I’ve got a couple of friends who have recently had beautiful, healthy babies. I’ve got a couple who have finally become pregnant after years of heartbreaking barrenness and miscarriages. I’ve got a couple for whom it seems God is continuing to say no to their prayers. I know people who have lost a child and others whose children have a disability.

The circumstances are all different, but God is the same.

Hannah’s prayer is a totally appropriate response to the granting of her deepest wish. We should thank God for his gifts and blessings. What I find far more compelling, though, is the rejoicing of those who praise him and trust him even in the midst of the hopelessness.

I may have shared this verse before – it resonates for me and is something I wish we’d hear preached more often, alongside the sermons about thanking God for his blessings:

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      (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

I am filled with admiration for those who can pray and live like this in the midst of their deepest despair. I’m full of admiration for their honesty about the struggles and the pain and the doubt and the anguish, too – I’m not saying they should hide those things – but I think it is a powerful testimony – perhaps more powerful even than the ‘and God healed me’ testimonies – to say ‘It hurts, but God is still good and worthy of praise.’

If that’s you – well done. You’re a wonderful witness and example. Don’t give up.

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