Nehemiah Chigoji is Pastor of Upland (California) Peace Church.
Let us look at I Samuel 2:1-10 today. Hannah, mother of Samuel, had been barren. Her husband, Elkanah, also had another wife named Peninnah who had children and had been making life miserable for Hannah because she had none. Hannah went to the temple to pray for a child; a year later she gave birth to Samuel. After he was weaned, she brought him to the temple to give him back to the Lord.
She was unbelievably excited because God had given new life to her.
At that time, she prayed a prayer that most of us have heard or read (I Samuel 2:1) sometime. Hannah’s prayer starts with her praising the Lord for this new life:
“My heart rejoices in the Lord;
My horn [strength] is exalted in the Lord.
I smile at my enemies,
Because I rejoice in Your salvation.” (NKJV)
But recently I read Hannah’s prayer in The Message version and it totally changed my perspective on her prayer. Have you ever read Hannah’s prayer in The Message?
“I’m bursting with God-news!
I’m walking on air.
I’m laughing at my rivals.
I’m dancing my salvation.”
When I read this, it was transforming. Look at her praise: she was not just rejoicing, she was “bursting” with her great “God-news”! Hannah is not just smiling at her enemies, she is “laughing” at her rivals (probably Peninnah) who previously gave her grief. Hannah’s rejoicing at her salvation is so intense that she is dancing.
I have been trying not to dance when I am rejoicing in God because it embarrasses my wife (who is not Nigerian like me). But now I realize I should be so excited about my new life in Christ that I should be dancing.
The Old Testament has several other examples of the Lord opening barren wombs (e.g., Sarai, wife of Abraham at the beginning of the line of Jesus).
The Lord often brings life where there was none before.
At Christmas time, he brought life to the world through Jesus, and Jesus said, in John 10:10. “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (NKJV)
I just preached this weekend about how everything from Genesis to Revelation is about Jesus.
What is Christmas about? Not the lights or the presents or the parties or even the special Christmas programs we all enjoy so much. Christmas is about the birth of Jesus and the whole Bible points to this one day. We need to refocus on heimwho brings us abundant lif: a life so full that we ourselves can sing forth that we are “bursting with God-news and walking on air.”