I have some friends who are trying to come up with a name for their baby boy. In my devotion earlier this week, I suggested the name Barnabas, which means “Son of Encouragement.”
Though most found the story behind the name interesting and encouraging, the idea of naming their son Barnabas didn’t resonate.
So, allow me to make another humble suggestion:
If I have another son, I want to name him Samuel. Here’s why.
In the Old Testament, centuries before Jesus was born, decades before any kings ruled over Israel or the temple was built, a Jewish man took his family to worship at the tabernacle in Shiloh. The tabernacle was a tent. It was a sort of temporary temple.
The man’s name was Elkanah. Elkanah had two wives. Their names were Hannah and Peninnah. Penninah had numerous children, but Hannah had none. She was barren. In those days, being barren was a great shame. Penninah mocked her. Hannah’s heart ached.
One evening, she ran to the courtyard just outside of the tabernacle. She fell on her knees and poured out her heart to God. Tears poured down her face. She prayed for a son. Her emotions poured out so passionately, the priest Eli thought she was drunk. He yelled at her for being drunk in the tabernacle.
“I’m not drunk,” Hannah told him. “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I was pouring out my soul to the Lord.”
“Go in peace,” Eli told her, “and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”
Soon after, Hannah became pregnant. She gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel. Samuel means, “God listens.”
God listens. God heard Hannah’s prayer. He gave her the son she so passionately prayed for.
God listens to you. Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, God is on call. He always hears you. He’s always listening. He always answers for your good.
Sometimes, though, it seems like he’s not listening. Sometimes we pray to God just as passionately as Hannah did, but nothing happens. Where is God at those times? Why isn’t he listening?
The thing is, he is listening. He hears you. Not only does he hear you, but he also answers you. He just doesn’t always say, “Yes.”
God sometimes says, “No.” God sometimes says, “Not yet.” Though God always listens, he doesn’t always give us what we ask for because what we ask for isn’t always for our good.
Father knows best. What would happen to your children if you gave them everything they asked for? They would become spoiled. Some of the things they asked for would eventually hurt them. Like a loving dad, God sometimes says, “No.”
But he is always listening.
When you feel alone, when you are frightened, when you don’t know what do to or where to turn, you can talk to him. He will comfort you with his promises. He will answer you for your good.
He will always hear you, because God listens.