1 Samuel 1:9-11

At childhood sleepovers with my cousin Carla, we’d lay side by side and say our nighttime prayers aloud. We were honest and earnest. We always prayed that Carla would someday have a baby brother or sister. She did not. We always prayed that I would someday have a baby brother or sister. I did. Three.

As a teenager and then a young adult, I prayed that God would save Aunt Phyllis, Clute, Lauren Dee, and Sam from cancer. They all died. The answer to the prayers on their behalf was no.

One day after Sam died, I sat beside a stream and shook my fist at God. I hissed that I wasn’t sure God could be forgiven for allowing Sam to die. I was a fountain of rage and profanity. God looked back at me through the moving stream, clear, bottomless, and unafraid. I hated the sun for shining on that stream.

In today’s verses, Hannah is in church. When she “presented herself before the LORD,” I wonder if she cried the way I do in church—crying, but wearing waterproof mascara; pleading but not after noon; sad but not disruptive. Maybe not. Maybe hers was an all-out scene.

Either way, we are prone to forget that God wants for us to be brutally honest, to flail and shout “I will never forgive you, God” if that’s the truth of how we feel. God does not shield us from the pain of being human. God does not expect us to be sweet or stoic about our pain. God absorbs our ugly, disruptive, non-sensical moments, empowering us to live with questions, survive our griefs, and experience the wonder of faith made real.


If you could tell God the truth today, what would you say? Who do you know that needs permission from a loving friend to be honest with God?


God, make me aware of what you are inviting me to entrust to your loving care today. Amen.

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