There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the Lord Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the Lord. Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb. Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. Her husband Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you down hearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house. In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”“Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”When her husband Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the Lord and to fulfill his vow, Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, “After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the Lord, and he will live there always.”“Do what seems best to you,” her husband Elkanah told her. “Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the Lord make good his word.” So the woman stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him.After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. When the bull had been sacrificed, they brought the boy to Eli, and she said to him, “Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.
~1 Samuel 1:1-28
There is so much we can learn from Hannah’s story, her strength and her trust in The Lord.
We’ve all wanted something we don’t have, can’t have and likely won’t have.
At some point in your life, there has been a deep desire for something someone else (or everyone else) had that you couldn’t, at no fault of your own.
On this side of Heaven, in this imperfect world, sometimes we are dealt a hand of cards we wish we could fold and it’s so easy for us to look at everyone else around us with flushes, straights and/or full houses and want to stomp our feet in defeat while screaming, “that’s not fair!” at the top of our lungs.
Likely you also know the feeling of desperation that comes with an unfulfilled desire… the pain and the tears the emptiness causes and the helpless pit of despair when you know obtaining what you desire is out of your own control.
For Hannah, it was a baby, to give a son to her husband, the man that loved her so very much. While it might not have been the desire of a baby for you, maybe it was a longing for a loved one to be healed or receiving the news you didn’t get a job you had been working your entire life to obtain. Maybe for you, it was the shock of walking through a tragedy that could not be undone.
We’ve all also encountered someone that doesn’t make our hand of cards any easier to play with… someone that makes us feel like we’re not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough and/or reminds us that we can’t have something he or she has (and likely won’t ever).
Not many of us had to share a husband with this kind of person while walking through our darkest days, but Hannah did.
It’s hard to imagine how she must have felt, but the Bible tells us she was in, “deep anguish,” and admittedly in, “misery.” She tells Eli, “ I am a woman who is deeply troubled.” The unbelievable part of Hannah’s story is how she responds to her hand of cards…how she decides to deal with her suffering. She doesn’t respond by drinking too much. She doesn’t respond with retail therapy. She doesn’t respond by throwing a fit of angry emotions to the people she loves most. She doesn’t find every excuse in the book to cancel plans or justify ungodly behavior because “life isn’t fair.” No. Hannah responds by, “pouring out her soul to The Lord.”
Ummm, I feel like we all eventually get to this place when we walk through tough times, but her decision NOT to throw a royal fit or punch her husband’s other wife or become the village wine addict is inspiring and should stir something in all of us. It takes strength and faith and discipline and self-control to display the kind of behavior Hannah did in her situation. I don’t know about you, but regardless of the outcome, that’s the way I want to respond when I am faced with adversity in my life. It’s time we let go of the pity parties, the Ben and Jerry pint fests and all of the excuses we enable ourselves with when life doesn’t go our way. (Okay, okay… one pint of Ben and Jerry’s might be okay.)
In all seriousness though, life can get hard. Like it or not there are so many things we cannot control and that “out of control” feeling can debilitate some of us. Maybe it’s time for us to realize that there are some things we can control, like how we choose to respond in the hard times, like having faith so strong we would give to God the one thing we love more than anything on the planet and like choosing to be a Godly woman clothed with strength and dignity even in our darkest days.
The Bible is filled with people just like Hannah that woke up and decided to trust God no matter the situation and press forward giving Him the Glory in all that they did.
We might not feel like we have the strength to do so, but God promises to give us His strength if we are willing to ask.
REFLECT ON SCRIPTURE:
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the week.” Isaiah 40:29
“My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.” Psalm 119: 28
“… but those whose who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40: 31
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.” Ephesians 3:16
“It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8
“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
Today, pour your heart out to The Lord in your own “Hannah” kind of way.
Today’s post was written by Amanda Sanders.
Amanda has been married to her high school sweetheart, Matt, for 12 years. Together they have three kids ages 10, 8 and 5. In this season of life, Amanda spends most of her time drinking coffee, teaching children, doing laundry and repeating herself. Occasionally, she has some time for working out, reading for leisure and writing. You can find her on Sunday mornings worshiping at our Real Life Kaley campus.