God raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honour.*
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
and on them he has set the world. (1 Samuel 2:8)
When Hannah sings the above verse, she has discovered that God has granted her a son. Samuel, who would grow to be one of the most important figures in Israel’s history. The arrival of this son brought great joy to Hannah and her heart sang with praises to the God who had given such a gift to her.
What is striking about this song is that her song isn’t filled with selfish praise, where she is simply happy because she got what she wanted. Her heart is overflowing with unselfish praise – the kind of praise that rejoices that others benefit, too. The poor are lifted up, the mighty oppressors are brought down, and the feeble and weak are lifted up.
This is a great reminder to all of us. We often pray for something and hope that what we want happens. But the faithful prayer of Hannah calls us to not just see answers to our prayers as isolated and personal. They are also part of the larger work of God and connected to a bigger story.
This is the same kind of joy we see in the New Testament when Mary sings her song of joy when she discovers that she is carrying Jesus. She knows that bearing Jesus is not just a personal victory for Mary, it is part of God’s bigger work to bring about the kingdom of God.
So as you experience times where God is doing something meaningful and life giving in your life, remember not to isolate your experience of joy from the world around you. Continue to hope that God’s work will flow to others, lifting up the poor and the oppressed and helping those who are weak and struggling to find strength and flourish.