1 Samuel 1:12-18

Our most recent Sunday-morning-Coe-family-meltdown involved an elevator, a backpack, three shrieking girls, and two impatient parents. As we got on the elevator to leave church, Annalina lost her composure when she saw Ella, the baby, wearing her backpack. Katherine cried out in fear that one of us would be crushed by the elevator doors. Ella let out a glass-shattering scream as Annalina tried to wrench the backpack off her back. Mommy and Daddy grabbed Annalina’s arm, yelling, “Get on the elevator!”

As we later processed what happened, I realized I’d misread the situation and been unfairly impatient with Annalina. Annalina realized she’d made a mistake too. We both apologized and agreed to make an effort to listen and be patient with each other next time.

As Frank Yamada notes, Eli misread Hannah’s situation and failed to offer her compassion and discernment. The damage is compounded by Eli’s position of power and authority as priest. 

I identify with Eli’s mistake. I’ve failed how many times to offer compassion and discernment to friends, church members, and family. As a pastor and a parent, my positional power compounds my actions. I’m most prone to make mistakes when I’m in a hurry, and tasks become more important than people. When I slow down, find compassion and listen, I find God and deep connection. This doesn’t eliminate meltdowns. It just helps me accept them with more authentic faith. 

Source: Frank M. Yamada, “1 Samuel 1:4-20: Exegetical Perspective,” Feasting on the Word Year B, Volume 4 Season After Pentecost, edited by David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor (Westminster John Knox Press: Louisville, 2009) 295.


What one thing would you like to have a discerning conversation about with a trusted friend? How could you offer compassion and discernment to others?


God, help me see the world through your eyes. When I am blind to your way, grant me the graces of humor and humility. Amen.

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