One in 4 women of child-bearing age has had a miscarriage.
I did not believe that statistic when I first heard it, so I verified it with my neighbor who is a doctor. He confirmed it. I still was not convinced, so I asked two more doctors. They both said the statistic may be conservative. Roughly 6% of women are infertile. Roughly 15% of couples are infertile (unable to conceive after 1 year). In 40% of infertile couples, the husband is either fully sterile, or a contributing factor. Please, press these heartbreaking numbers to your heart as you move through this session of Explore the Bible together. If your family has suffered a miscarriage, or struggled with infertility, would you consider sharing your family’s testimony in your session? God can take our brokenness and build beautiful testimonies from them.
Hannah was deeply hurt (v.10). She cried out to the Lord from the midst of her despair and the Lord would do something miraculous and tremendous. He is the Creator of life and He is sovereign. This is why Hannah cried out to Him and it is why He was able to accomplish His sovereign will even through Hannah’s pain. Be sensitive to the hearts in the room who may be quietly suffering from infertility like Hannah. If someone has to step out of the session, please make it as comfortable for them as possible to do so, but invite the Holy Spirit to use your group to minister comfort to aching hearts.
People may see their reflections in Hannah. Let us be careful and search for our reflections in Eli – the godly man who made a wrongful assumption about Hannah (vv.13,14).
As you illustrate this text from your own family’s personal pain over infant loss, miscarriage, and/or infertility (or even from your joy through adoption), do so in a way that keeps Scripture in its rightful place as the rockstar of the session. Make it your aim that people would go home more passionate about 1 Samuel 1 than they are about your personal story. This is a balance I struggle with firsthand. When I speak about my son Aiden, I sometimes fail to temper my heart as a father and devote more time to his story than I do to His story. Forgive me for that, friends. We have been given these testimonies that we may minister from them and see the Lord bear fruit from them, but we must do so in an act of exegesis and not eisegesis:
exegesis – Draw out the meaning of the text. Tell your story of infertility, infant loss, adoption, miscarriage, etc. to help people in today’s context understand 1 Samuel 1 in its context.
eisegesis – We commit this error if we merely use 1 Samuel 1 to illustrate our own stories. We must keep Scripture the focus and use our stories to help people grasp Scripture’s message.
May the Lord minister to the hurting through His perfect Word. May He bring comfort to those of you who will teach this passage through tears. May He use the combined experiences of the room to bear fruit in His sovereignty. Amen.
Jesse Campbell is an author and the Brand Manager of Lifeway’s Explore the Bible.