Today's sermon was about Hanna, the mother of Samuel, from the first chapter of 1 Samuel. Hanna was a beloved married wife but her womb was barren. So she begged God for a child constantly in the Temple. She begged so fervently that the priest thought she was drunk while she poured out her heart to the Lord. She promised she would dedicate her child to the service of the Lord if he would open her womb.
He did and she did. "After he was weaned" Hanna took Samuel to the Temple to be raised and trained by Eli the priest. Samuel was much more faithful than Eli's own sons, and was called and grew to become a great prophet in Israel. He would later anoint the first Kings of Israel, Saul and David. All this greatness sprang from a frailty in the flesh, which God overcame by hearing the prayer of a grievous woman named Hanna.
There were several good illustrations of strength coming out of weakness. A pearl, jumping, and an arrow, are the three I recall. A pearl is a response to a foreign invader into a living organism. Then the oyster kind of cries, and makes a white surface around the sand way the preacher explained it. Then this happens again until it becomes a pearl.
The second illustration was about jumping. Anyone who has tried to jump high has discovered that the lower you get, the higher you can jump. So our lowest points morally or spiritually were meant to illustrate the depth and height of God's love. Keeping those lows secret robs God of glory. But making them public gives us great power and glory to God.
The last similar illustration is the pulling pack of an arrow in a bow. Ever feel like you're being held back? Maybe its all for a purpose, so that when the time is right, you are released to really go far. If you're only pulled back a little, you won't fly very far.
There was also one more about the Disney elephant Dumbo. His ears were his shame growing up, but when he grew up and realized their purpose, they carried him to higher heights than all the lows of shame and teasing they had brought him.
The challenge at the end was that when God does his work of turning our weakness into strength, let's be among the 10% who come back to him and gratefully serve, and giving him glory. Let's not be among the 90% who remember God when things are tough, get our prayers answered and then go back to our old life serving self and forgetting God.
Admitting our faults is to find true and lasting strength.