Rosh Hashanah 5760
For the week of September 11, 1999 / 1 Tishri 5760
Torah: Bereshit / Genesis 21:1-34, Bemidbar / Numbers 29:1-6
Haftarah: 1 Samuel 1:1-2:10


In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD
(I Samuel 1:10).

What do you want? What do you really want?

What do you do when you want something that you don't have and don't think that you are going to get?

There are all sorts of ways we handle our greatest desires. We may work hard at getting it. We may resort to illegitimate means. We may compromise by adjusting our desires to something more achievable. We may redirect our wants, trying to find satisfaction through other things, while the original desire continues to burn in our hearts. Or we may just give up.

This Shabbat is Rosh Hashanah, the biblical Feast of Trumpets, the traditional Jewish New Year. This is a time to remember God again.

As we look back on the past year we also remember our disappointments. We recall the things we wanted but have not received or achieved. As we remember, desire is sparked again.

The special Haftarah portion for Rosh Hashanah is about someone who had such a desire. Hannah wanted a son.

One of the things that intrigues me in this story is that Hannah's desire was not what most of us would call spiritual. She just wanted a son. There is no mention as in other biblical accounts of God declaring that he would miraculously provide a baby who would accomplish great things for his purposes. She just wanted a son.

But it is not so much what she desired as what she did with her desires. She cried out to God.

Hannah was desperate. She was consumed with her desire for a son. Maybe you can't relate to how she felt. But can you relate to her feelings? Maybe there is something in your life right now that has captured your heart. Maybe there used to be.

God wants us to come to him with our desires, dreams, and wishes. We spend too much time analyzing them and not enough time pouring our hearts out to him.

Does God give us everything we ask him for? I don't think so. But by opening our hearts to him, we give him room to speak to us. If we would give him the chance, there is so much he wants to do for us, to us, and with us.

God answered Hannah's prayer. She had no idea what this was all about, however. Her son, Samuel, was to become one of the greatest leaders in the history of Israel. But she had no idea. All she knew was that she wanted a baby.

I wonder what God wants to do with your heart's desires.

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