By Kayla Grimmett
Whether or not you grew up hearing this story in Sunday School, in college, or just today, Hannah’s story challenges us to believe that God can handle our hearts desires and the emotions that come along with not receiving them.
In our Christian culture sometimes I feel that I can only take my positive emotions to God and I need to tell myself truth to get over my negative emotions. God created us and he knows the depths and the ugliness of our hearts. He is here for all of it, the highs and the lows and the unexplainable.
We meet Hannah in the midst of her l o n g i n g for a son. Motherhood was supposed to give her purpose in this world. She was married to Elkanah. Well so was Peninnah. Peninnah had children. Hannah did not. But he (Elkanah) loved Hannah more. Wasn’t that enough to keep her happy?
“But Peninnah made fun of Hannah because the Lord had closed her womb. Year after year it was the same - Peninnah would taunt Hannah as they went to the tabernacle. Hannah would finally be reduced to tears and would not even eat.
‘What’s the matter Hannah?’ Elkanah would ask. ‘Why aren’t you eating? Why be so sad because you have no children? You have me - isn’t that better than having ten sons?’ “ 1 Samuel 1:6-8 NLT
Have you been there? Trying to “get over” the longing of your heart, but you can’t. People are telling you that they love you in the midst of your suffering, but you can never completely let it go. You are constantly reminded of what you do not have, it is in your face every day. You are thankful for your life and all the rich blessings God has given you, but one thing for which you desire, a good thing, has not been given to you.
Hannah knew she was not in control. She knew she served a big God, and that she could ask him for anything! She was not afraid to be upset or persistent before Him. She was not asking God out of a deserving heart but a longing heart. And when you are asking for something you truly long for, you ask the person who has the ability to give it to you. Matthew 7 says, “Keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for.” It goes on to say, “If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”
When you find yourself where Hannah is other people might think you are crazy!
“Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. And she made this vow; ‘Oh Lord Almighty, if you will look down upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.’
As she was praying to the Lord, Eli watched her. Seeing her lips moving but hearing no sound, he thought she had been drinking. ‘Must you come here drunk?’ He demanded. ‘Throw away your wine!’
‘Oh no sir!’ she replied, ‘I’m not drunk. I was pouring my heart out to the Lord. Please don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.’
‘In that case,’ Eli said, ‘cheer up! May the Lord grant the request you have asked of him.’
‘Oh thank you sir!’ she exclaimed. Then she went back and began to eat again, and she was no longer sad.’ 1 Samuel 1 :10-18 NLT
Hannah needed someone to come along and encourage her that God had indeed heard her prayer, someone to want her prayer to get answered. You have to ask yourself, why was she no longer sad? I wonder without Eli how many more times she would petition the Lord?
Here Hannah refers to God as, El Shaaddai, Almighty God, mighty in power. God brought her to a place where she knew she was utterly helpless and he held all power.
AFTER THIS, GOD REMEMBERED HER REQUEST, AND HANNAH HAD A SON!
God can do it! He can answer that one prayer that you think He just won’t.
Am I saying that every time you ask for something you will get it? No. His ways are not our ways. But He longs to give us good gifts, and I think he longs even more for us to trust his character so much that we can expect it from him, as a good father.
“When the child was weaned, Hannah took him back to the Tabernacle in Shiloh…
‘Sir do you remember me? I am the woman who stood here several years ago praying to the Lord. I asked the Lord to give me this child, and he has given me my request. Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life.’
And they worshiped the Lord there.” 1 Samuel 1: 24a, 26-28 NLT
Hannah kept her word! She really did give her child back to God! How many of us would have tried to renegotiate with God after he gave us our heart’s desire? She models for us how to ask boldly and act boldly. Her actions even lead Eli to worship God. 1 Samuel 1: 28b
Imagine how Eli’s faith was strengthened. HE saw this woman crying years ago, then sees her with the answer to her prayer!
It takes faithfulness to keep your word. Ultimately only one person has been faithful to us, and that man will always be faithful to us. Jesus is that man. He was faithful to live a life without sin for you and for me. He was faithful to lay his life down for us on the cross, even though he didn;t have to. He was faithful to conquer death, so that we can have eternal life with him one day. What will Jesus not be faithful to do for us? Jesus is the reason that God looks on us, because of our faith in him, and sees children he longs to bless!
Hannah was wrong; her purpose would not come from being a mother. Just like ours doesn’t come from being a wife, or a CEO, or whatever your desire is. It would come only from knowing God and walking through life trusting Him with every care and emotion.