December 27, 2023

Read 1 Samuel 2:1-10.

Hannah’s story of infertility, hopelessness, and longing is one I unfortunately know too well, as it is my own story. Thankfully, after much struggle and loss, our son was finally born this year. If I learned anything from her journey and mine, it’s that it is entirely possible for joy and sorrow to coexist — that hope and despair can breathe the same air, and one can praise God and curse God in the same breath.

Hannah’s prayer is her exhalation of all those emotions which have been bound up in her for so long. All the years of being made to feel less than, of being told she was a problem, a curse, unworthy. All the crushing disappointment and unanswered prayers. All the judgment and isolation. Her words flow out to declare the truth: that God is for her and not against her. To tell the world that while they had written her off, God never did.

To be human means learning to live in the middle of the joy and the pain, in the bittersweet liminal spaces. Hannah offers hope to anyone still waiting, that God is with us, and for us, no matter what the rest of the world says. It’s a promise for everyone who has ever been an outcast, ever felt unwelcome, ever struggled to hold on — that if we keep our eyes open, one day we too will have our hearts rejoice, our strength rise up, and our deliverance be found in the Lord.


Dear God, help us to see you in the bittersweet places. Help us to breathe in faith and exhale hope as we wait for you once again. Amen.

Rev. Brenna Hesch-Overland Head of Staff,

First Presbyterian Church (Bay City, MI)