I haven't read something so timely needed in my life as the article that I just read and have shared at the bottom of these thoughts. I had just finished reading about the birth of Samson in Judges 13 and then about the nameless woman that was Samson's mother. A companion study book, that my roommate brought home one day, profiles more than 400 women in the Bible, Manoah's wife, Samson's mother, being one of them. The author writes on how this woman was many things, including being a disappointed woman because of her barrenness. A privileged woman because she was visited by an angel of the Lord. She was a Godly woman because she was a humble Israelite and described as faithful, self-sacrificing, holy, and "must have had a life corresponding to the separated character of the son she was to bear..." She was a happy woman because her prayers were answered as Samson came to be. But, she was also a sorrowful woman because of the way her son turned out.
I keep going back to what she was like as a Godly woman, because that is ultimately something that I strive to be. The author of this companion book points out that there is "no record of complaint or impatience over her childless state." In fact, I think she probably prayed a lot. Constantly, maybe. In return, "her prayer lightened the burden of her loneliness and sustained her patience. As a God-fearing Israelite, she had faith that He would answer her prayer."
So much do I see myself in this nameless woman, of the desire to have something that is yet to be. Yet, where she was strong and faithful in her praying to God, believing that He would answer, I am weak and lacking. My prayers are more cries and tantrums during fits of anger and loneliness. My first thought is often not to pray, but to turn my face and walk away from the Lord. But, what a lesson to learn from this nameless woman on faith and prayer. Constant and faithful prayer, when combined with the belief that God will answer, is life-changing. This woman's praying "lightened the burden of her loneliness." Yes, she had the companionship of her husband, but her heart was now naturally desiring a child. And the lack of that, her barrenness, created a new feeling of loneliness that only a child was going to fill. Yet, she believed and had faith that God would answer, so her constant prayer "sustained her patience." We don't know how old she was, so we can't be sure of how long she had been fighting this loneliness of being barren or how long she had been waiting for a child after her marriage began. But, anyone who desires something so deeply within their heart and is living without it, whether that be a spouse, a new job, or a family, will probably tell you that even one day, is one day too many without it.
The days kept passing and the nights still came. She was still without a child, but her patience only grew stronger because of her constant prayer and belief that God was hearing her. The moon would rise and the sun would set, but she never stopped believing that her prayer would go unheard. She must have believed that his mercies are new every day and that joy comes in the morning, because one day, many prayer-filled days later, her patience and faithfulness were rewarded. She had a son, Samson. And while her son lived a life that sometimes led him astray from the Lord and caused her sorrow, she knew he was her blessing, her answered prayer. And her story gives us an example that while God does indeed hear our prayers, the answers may not always turn out how we expect them to. But, no matter what the answer, we can expect the Lord to be glorified.
I never thought much about marriage or having a family when I was a teenager or even in college really. It wasn't until I graduated and eventually became settled in a job that those two dreams, those prayers, started coming into the light. Small whispers of what the future could look like. But then, the loneliness hit. The loneliness of turning twenty-seven and watching your friends get married and start their families. Of watching your friends get pets together, take vacations, get promotions, and buy a house. Those small whispers became loud screams of anger and questioning why it wasn't my turn yet. What did I need to do? What did I need to change? Who did I need to be?
On Manoah's wife and Samson's mother, the nameless woman, Herbert Lockyer said: "Barren though the nameless wife she was, she was yet believing."
I need to pray. I need to throw away my unbelief that the Lord isn't hearing me. I need to be more like the faithful woman that Samson's mother was. I need my prayer to lighten my burden and strengthen my patience. I need to not let loneliness win. I need to stop pushing it away and acting like it isn't something I feel. I need to see that my singleness isn't something that needs fixing. I need to believe this article below.
But most importantly, I need to believe that the Lord is good. That He hears my prayers. That His mercies are new every day. That joy comes in the morning.