Our Old Testament reading, from the First Book of Samuel, tells the story of Hannah: ‘She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord, and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thy maidservant, and remember me, and not forget thy maidservant, but wilt give to thy maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.” As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard; therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. And Eli said to her, “How long will you be drunken? Put away your wine from you.” But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman sorely troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not regard your maidservant as a base woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have made to him.” And she said, “Let your maidservant find favour in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her countenance was no longer sad. They rose early in the morning and worshipped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her; and in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked him of the Lord.”’
Hannah would, in due time, prefigure the aged Elizabeth, who would become the mother of John the Baptist. God’s time is not our time; it stretches across centuries – ‘a thousand years in thy sight are as yesterday …’ as the Psalmist wrote. His purpose is inexorable, and advances steadily. May we truly trust that He is working that purpose out, for He does not change.
May God bless you this day, as He works out His will in your own life, and may St Aelred pray for you.