Hope When Life Hurts: The Prayer of Hannah
Have you ever found yourself in a time of waiting? Sometimes in life we can feel like we are in a waiting room. We spend a big part of our lives waiting for things. And if you are anything like me, you may have discovered that God’s timetable is different to ours. I must confess that I like things to be done yesterday. We are renovating our kitchen and dining room at the moment. We discovered that our dining room had a rotten wall and floors due to a plumbing leak in the laundry. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it meant that we could knock down two walls in our kitchen and dining room, remove the laundry and have a much bigger space. We have needed more space for quite some time. But we are waiting for this project to be finished and are currently in week two of having no kitchen or laundry. We are camping at home!
We may wait for many things –for our prayers to be answered, for exam results, for homes to be fixed, we wait to find a job. We wait to see if chemotherapy or radiation will work, we wait for a marriage partner. And all this waiting is difficult. We are often in an incredible hurry. We live in a microwave generation where we want instant gratification. But God is not in a hurry. And it is in the waiting that God does His mightiest work in our lives. Have you found that to be true in your life? Some women wait many years to have children. I’m praying at the moment for a friend who is a ‘mum in waiting’.
If there was anyone who waited and travailed in prayer for a child, it was Hannah. Hannah’s story in the Bible is one of sorrow, supplication and sacrifice. Hannah was like you or I, an ordinary woman, who served an extraordinary God. She was married to Elkanah who loved her deeply, however she was unable to bear him a child. Elkanah also had another wife Peninah, and while she didn’t hold Elkanah’s affections, she was able to bear him children. This was very painful for Hannah, as ‘the Lord had closed her womb’ (1 Samuel 1:5). Hannah was hurting and heartbroken. Her soul was in anguish and she was chided over her childlessness by Peninah, at a time in history when a woman’s worth stemmed from her ability to bear children.
The Bible says that ‘she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in aguish. The she made a vow and said, ‘“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.” (1 Samuel 1:10-11, NIV).
God graciously remembered Hannah; she conceived and gave birth to a male child whom she named Samuel, meaning ‘God hears.’ Hannah remembered the vow she made to the Lord, and when Samuel was weaned she took him up to the temple and entrusted him into the hands of Eli, the priest who had overheard her prayer. Samuel was anointed. Even as a tiny boy he heard the voice of God, and he grew to be the greatest prophet in the history of Israel. She ‘rejoiced in the Lord (1 Samuel 2:1-2), and was blessed with three more sons and two daughters.
Hannah’s heartfelt surrendered prayer is one of the greatest in the Bible. She was intense and completely committed. She never gave up. It was her barrenness that drove her into the depths of desperation and she prayed a prayer that captured God’s heart and changed the course of Israel’s history, allowing God’s great purpose to be fulfilled.
But between promise and fulfilment, there were months and even years of waiting, expecting and planning, pain and heartache. We have to trust God. In our time of waiting, God is perhaps preparing us, and strengthening us to be used mightily by Him. And there are many Hannah’s in our world today –women who are waiting for their dreams to be birthed. But there is hope that from a place of barrenness may come great fruitfulness, as we partner with God to see His purposes fulfilled. He is the God ‘who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly beyond what we can ask or think’ (Ephesians 3:20).
Photo credit – www,marissastar.com