Friday, January 25, 2013

Read: 1 Samuel 1
                            Majority of us lead a life where only once in a while we may face crisis or challenges. However, there are countless people in this world, whose very life and existence itself is crisis. From the time they wake up, to the time of getting into bed in the night, every moment of the day are moments of struggles and challenges. When life becomes hard and unbearable, people buckle under pressure and they live a life of complaining or try to find easy way out to get out of their life and its struggles. But listen to the struggles and challenges of a young migrant Tamilian girl, Prema Jayakumar, living in a small chawl [slang for very poor home] in the city of Mumbai. Prema and her family who hails from Tamil Nadu, is now in the national and international headlines for topping the nationwide Chartered Accountancy or the CA exams this year. CA. CA could be considered somewhat similar or equivalent to CPA in United States. What is it that makes the achievement of Prema Jayakumar out of the ordinary. What makes Prema and her family stands out in the crowd, making her extraordinary from the ordinary people like us. In Prema and role that her family played in the success of this migrant girl, one can learn how we can turn our trails to triumph, a test into testimony and from being a victim of suffering to a victorious person. Prema comes from a financially poor background with her father driving an auto rickshaw, [a three-wheeler used for public transportation], while her mother worked in a private firm so as to make both ends meet. Though finance was a issue at home, the parents always supported their children in their studies. Prema has also a younger brother named Dhanraj Jayakumar. What is unique about the contribution of this family is that it is not only Prema who cleared and topped the CA exams, but her brother also cleared the CA exams in the very first attempt. Thus for the family of Jayakumar the victory is double sweet. Here is the story of the family who is resilient and determined to see that crisis and challenges that they face  in life do not subdue them on the contrary as family together, they face and overcome every crisis that comes their way. Prema as she prepared for her CA exams, used to work partime to earn a few thousand rupees that supplemented the family income. Her brother also helped the family and in preparing his sister for CA exams by working in a call centre and studying along with his work. Today the hard work, the struggle that the siblings have put forward has borne sweet results. Both the siblings are getting calls from top Indian and foreign companies to work for them. But Prema is very humble in her achievements. She credits her achievement to her parents and her brother and now her only objective in life is to see to it that her parents live a comfortable life, taking rest for all the hard work that they had put to raise both Prema and Dhanraj all these years. Here is a family standing hand in hand in times of crisis and helping each other in their quest to make dreams come true, forgetting each other's burden for the greater blessing of the family. I think the family of Prema is a model for all of us. Not only in the way Prema and her brother has handled and overcome crisis and challenges of life, but also in the model as to how a family if bound together can bring about success and blessing in each other life. This what is the need of the hour in each of families of the world.
                            In the book of 1 Samuel we find the life and time of a powerful prophet Samuel. Samuel was one of the greatest prophet in the history of Israel. Samuel always stood by the laws of the Lord and he had no fear in reprimanding those who did not obey the Lord nor did what was pleasing to the sight of the Lord. In I Samuel 13, and I Samuel 15, we find Samuel rebuking King Saul for not doing the will of the Lord. Even though Saul was the King of Israel, we find Samuel very bold and outspoken in condemning the actions of the King. He was not concerned about the authority or the power that the King wielded, he was only concerned about doing God's will. Here is a prophet who makes the most extraordinary contribution in the life and times of Israel. But how could Samuel become such an extraordinary prophet, who feared only the Lord and nobody else. Looking at his humble beginning, we find that it is the crisis that his mother went through, that transformed Samuel from an unknown young boy to a mighty prophet.  The life of his mother Hannah was very painful and crisis ridden. The crisis that Hannah was going through was that she was not able to bear any off spring [ 1 Samuel 10,11]. A woman who is barren was scorned by a Jewish society and hence she becomes an object of ridicule. Her suffering worsens not only because of the ridicule that she has to encounter from the society but also from Penninah the other wife of her husband Elkanah. Finally, Hannah decides to overcome her crisis by seeking the help of the Lord. She comes to the presence of the Lord and cries her heart out to the Lord, the agony expressed only in tears and moaning and not in words. Eli the priest misjudges her intentions, but once he realized the crisis that Hannah was going through, he blesses her. Hannah is able to bear a son and she names him Samuel. While crying out her agony to the Lord, Hannah had promised if she is able to conceive a child, that child would be dedicated to the Lord. That is how Samuel is brought under the training of Eli, after he was weaned from his mother.  With the training under Eli and the suffering that Hannah had gone through her life, Samuel grows as a person who does right in the sight of the Lord. A prophet who speaks the word and will of the Lord. Hannah and Samuel represents families and individuals, who even though crushed due to their suffering and crisis but are not willing to let go, on the contrary depend and trust in the Lord for grace and strength to overcome the crisis. They also stand as a witness, that once the crisis is overcome,  life has to be lived as a blessing to others and doing what is right and pleasing to the Lord. Let us all come together as family to face challenges and crisis in life not individually but collectively so that we leave behind legacy of faith, commitment and witness to others, that it is strong family bonds and family members sticking together that ultimately helps each one of us in our quest to succeed in life, even when there is crisis and challenges. The success of Prema Jayakumar and her family has proved that. It is the turn of each of us and our families now.