What Is Victory When All Die?
Saturday, August 12, 2023
Is Victory Finding The Right Path?
Or God Blessing Our Path?
First Samuel 2:1
Hannah prayed and said, ‘My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in my God. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in my victory…’
Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
Words of Grace For Today
Elkanah has two wives. Peninnah had sons and daughters, but Hannah had none. Peninnah used that to taunt, belittle, and provoke Hannah, for they were rivals. Yet Elkanah favoured Hannah even so. Hannah’s heart was vexed, for in that time and place one was what other people said one was, and in that time and place a woman’s worth was measured by her ability to bear children, especially sons. (Such it was, as too often since and in many places still today.)
Eli finds Hannah, in the temple severely vexed, mouthing her words silently, and he thinks she is drunk. When she protests that she is not drunk but severely troubled, he dismisses her with a blessing, that God would grant her prayer.
She then bears a son, Samuel. And so Samuel’s life, blessed in service to God begins, for Hannah gives her son, after he is weaned, to Eli to be raised and work in service to God.
Hannah claims victory for her shame and worthlessness is overcome, and Peninnah can no longer taunt, belittle, and provoke her.
Yet, is this the victory of life, really? Hannah and Samuel, Peninnah and all her descendants, Elkanah, Eli and everyone else will still die, as we all do. 100% fatality rate for species human, catches us all in the end.
We all have small victories. Peninnah had a series of victories with each child that she claimed each time at Hannah’s expense. Such victories are most common, most ugly, most destructive (even to the world’s Peninnahs), and totally worthless in the end. Hannah’s victory is a victory, a small victory. It is a good victory, a blessing from God. But still a small victory.
Where’s the big victory?
Winning a World War? Only to have another war (or wars) engulf the world in two decades or so! Winning in court with lies? Only to face perjury charges, if not in court then before God! Gathering in all sorts of wealth, fame, luxuries, power, comforts? Only to have it all evaporate as one’s health deteriorates and one suffers long years of agony, begging to die. Or to finally realize that one’s wealth, fame, luxuries, power, comforts always cost many other people their lives.
Victory in life is always fleeting, except one.
To have God walk with one through it all, or in other words to be able to rejoice that our names are written in heaven. That is a victory that lasts beyond time into eternity. And it also makes all the other unjust victories taken from one’s life by others rather moot.
For, given God’s presence in every day, every minute, there is nothing that can separate one from the God’s love, and though there may be days when one finds no path to rejoice in this endless, unmatched blessing, there is always reason to rejoice, to exalt, to celebrate …
and to give God thanks.
And even to pray for the poor souls who live as if small victories like wealth, fame, luxuries, power, or comforts are what life is all about.