Day 9: Barrenness Yields to Birth
Read: 1 Samuel 1:1-24
I have long been enthralled by the story of Hannah. Perhaps it’s because I can relate to her in her barrenness but more than that, she is a woman of great faith and perseverance in the midst of deep, heart wrenching sorrow.
Hannah’s act of wholeheartedly dedicating her son to the Lord is hard to grasp. It wasn’t just an action of prayer over her son—she took him to the temple and gave him to the priest to be raised in the house of the Lord. Samuel was only in her home and arms until he was weaned and then she gave him to the Lord. There are no words, really.
Let’s peek in on the everyday life of Hannah. Just a couple verses into chapter one we get insight into her home life and see another culturally acceptable practice not approved of by God. Hannah lived with her husband Elkanah and had no children. If that was all the verses said, we’d breeze right by and not think much about it. BUT….Elkanah had another wife, Peninnah, who did have children. As if Hannah didn’t have enough to be sad about being barren, she also had to share her husband with another woman and watch as she mothered her children. Moreover, verse 6 tells us, “her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her.” Rivalry was bound to happen in this situation. Continuing in verse 7, we see the frequency: year after year. This provoking went on until Hannah wept. Unadulterated meanness.
Even though Elkanah loved Hannah and gave her a double portion, the sadness never went away. Stop and re-read verse six. Why was Hannah unable to have children? Does the answer shock you? I have to admit, the first time I really caught that, I was taken off guard. It correlates perfectly with what I stated in my introduction to these 21 days. Just as God could have changed my circumstances, he could have changed Hannah’s. But he had a purpose in her waiting and pain.
There was no comfort for Hannah from her husband. There would be no comfort for Hannah in a child. Somewhere deep inside she knew that to be true because she did the only thing that would bring comfort. She poured out her soul to the Lord. She prayed out of her great anguish and grief. Early in the morning, she worshiped before the Lord and returned home.
Do you find yourself with a sadness that never goes away? Do you have a heart’s desire that has never been met? I do. What are we to do with that? The same thing Hannah did. Take it before the Lord—pray out of our grief and anguish. Worship him in the midst of the pain, in the unanswered questions and in the unmet desire. At the end of it, the Lord may grant that heart’s desire. He did for Hannah. But he might not. He didn’t for me. Neither of those outcomes makes him any greater or any less. He remains all knowing, all faithful, forever loving and sovereign. In the midst of both, God never stops being who he is. In that alone is great comfort.
While I do not have enough words to express my admiration of Hannah’s faithfulness, she had plenty of them to express her gratitude to the Lord for all he had done. Close out today by reading 1 Samuel 2.
Prayer: God, like Hannah, I have things in my life I am sad about and I have unmet desires. I come to you in prayer and worship so I can know you better and be content no matter how you act in my situation. I believe you have purpose in my pain and I ask you to give me comfort and peace beyond all understanding.