God’s Little Monster
Her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. I Samuel 1:6
We recently watched a movie at home, in which several characters, born with congenital disabilities, were mocked mercilessly by others. Monsters, they called them. This, of course, provoked a visceral reaction in us, as we realized who the real monsters in the story were.
Today’s passage, similarly, tells the story of Hannah and Peninnah, both wives of a man named Elkanah. Peninnah was able to bear children but Hannah was not. Peninnah used Hannah’s infertility to mock and torment her. Though Peninnah looked down on Hannah as inferior, it is obvious, reading the story, to see who the real monster was.
It is easy to see how horrible it is when someone else does it, but, If I am honest, I must admit that I sometimes condescend to others to elevate myself. Recently, while observing someone with whom I had a disagreement, I found myself cheering for this person’s failure. Never mind that this failure would have hurt others, it would have vindicated my position and made me feel better.
I may not point and laugh at a child with a congenital disorder, but when I encounter someone with whom I disagree or who struggles in a way I cannot comprehend, I look down on them. I feel better about my own faults when I can condescend to those whom I feel are worse than me.
It is easy for me to draw a sharp line between congenital deformities and bad behavior. I would never make fun of a child with cerebral palsy, but that is different than looking down on bad behavior, right?
Being ugly is always ugly though. Acting as a monster is always monstrous. I may well need to be truthful about destructive behavior, but God never asks me to be his little monster. I am not called to hate or mock in His name. When confronted with someone I am tempted to look down upon, I must always ask, How can I show this person the love that God has shown me?