Dr. Antoine Deliege, the Chief of Child Protection at UNICEF Tunisia, writes that the most gut-wrenching sound he has ever heard is silence in an orphanage. “I have always been struck when I walked in the babies’ room by the silence that reigns in the facility. Even though there are more than 10 toddlers in the room, each lying in their own cot, no cries, no sound. The room always remains silent. Yet, all babies are awake, lying still with their eyes open, not making any sound.”
Why are these babies so unnaturally quiet? Tragically, they have already learned that crying is worthless, for nobody is listening.
This painful description of orphanages came to mind as I read the story of Samson’s birth.
“There was a certain man from Zorah, of the stock of Dan, whose name was Manoah. His wife was barren and had borne no children.
An angel of Hashem appeared to the woman and said to her, “You are barren and have borne no children; but you shall conceive and bear a son” (Judges 13:2-3).
The most significant part of this verse is what is not said. Unable to have children, Manoah and his wife did… nothing.
They did not pray, and they did not cry out to God for salvation. Like babies in an orphanage, Samson’s future parents accepted their painful situation and remained silent.
The passivity of Manoah and his wife reflected the attitude of their entire generation. The nation suffered from persecution at the hands of the evil Philistines, and yet they did nothing. They did not cry out to God for salvation nor plan a revolt against their oppressors. They had given up!
But this, of course, is not the way of the people of Israel, and it is not the way of believers! Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Rachel – all of our forefathers and foremothers struggled to have children, and all of them cried out to God! To believe in God is to believe in hope.
Though Manoah and his wife had given up hope, God refused to give up hope in them or in their generation. Though they did not pray for salvation, God saved them anyway. For as God has proven over and over again throughout the Bible and through thousands of years of history, He will never give up on His people, even if they give up on Him.
Better days were soon to come. Manoah and his wife would soon give birth to the great warrior Samson, the man who would remind his countrymen that Jews can stand up to their enemies with strength and pride.
We are not orphans, alone in the world with no one to cry to. We are the children of our Father in Heaven, who will always hear our cries!