November 9, 2015

Praise for the Only One

By James Howell
The Upper Room Disciplines 2015

The Upper Room Disciplines 2015. Click to purchase this full week of devotions (“Praise for the Only One”) as an e-book.

Read 1 Samuel 1:4-8

Sorrow and unfulfilled dreams can create an ache within us, especially when we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing very well. Hannah not only grieves her infertility but has to deal with the cruel taunts of her husband’s other wife. Elkanah, the dutiful husband, attempts to juggle the emotions of a depressed wife and a haughty one. He offers comfort to Hannah, “Am I not more to you than ten sons?” Nice try—but even the noblest human love cannot satisfy the emptiness that accompanies crushed dreams.

Hannah’s story ends happily. Hannah finally gives birth to the child she has desired. But for many, their prayers never “work.” These women have no sons and are left with nothing. That’s the darkest dread, isn’t it? Not only to bear unfulfilled dreams but to drift into oblivion.

Here’s where the good news of the gospel helps. Elkanah, though a devoted, compassionate husband, isn’t worth more to Hannah than ten sons. But the God Hannah prays to is worth more than dozens of sons—although we come to that way of believing only by faith, and the ache may linger for a lifetime.

God came to us as the child everyone has always wanted. “For unto us a child is born.” To the infertile, to the jobless, to those whose marriage is wrecked, to the one just told, “It’s malignant,” to all who bear sorrow—God comes as this child, and we are not alone. This God, and only this God, fills the gaping hole and brings the new life we’d dreamed of. We may not understand this gift this side of eternity, but the promise is sure.

Lord, help me trust that you are, and will be, enough. Amen.


James C. Howell, author of Why This Jubilee?: Advent Reflections on Songs of the Season.

James C. Howell is senior pastor, Myers Park United Methodist Church, Charlotte, North Carolina. He is the author of several books, including Why This Jubilee?: Advent Reflections on Songs of the Season. James is adjust professor of preaching at Duke Divinity School.

Excerpt from page 326 of The Upper Room Disciplines 2015: A Book of Daily Devotions. Used by permission of Upper Room Books.

The Upper Room Disciplines is an award-winning devotional book published annually by Upper Room Books. Fifty-three writers from diverse Christian and cultural backgrounds contribute to this yearlong guide of daily devotionals. They provide insightful reflections on scripture and offer suggestions for applying biblical truths to daily life.



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