Discipleship

Hannah: dealing problems through prayer

Upper Austria. Photo Credit: Benjie Bensing 2011

Upper Austria. Photo Credit: Benjie Bensing 2011

In 1Samuel chapters 1 & 2, we find the story of Hanna and her husband Elkanah, a Levite. Hannah was barren & she longed to have children. To be barren in Israel is similar to being accursed.  Elkanah, her husband, had another wife who bore him children. Having children in Israel, especially sons, will guarantee patriarchal succession and perpetuity of family name and property inheritance.

According to the website bible.org:

“Although in Old Testament times God tolerated polygamy, the Bible never portrays it in a good light. God’s original plan is for one man and one woman to be committed in marriage for life. Any violation of that plan, whether several wives at the same time or a succession of wives (or husbands) due to divorce, creates problems.

In Elkanah’s situation, the tension was increased because one of the wives had many children (a clear sign of God’s blessing in that culture), while the other wife had none. To complicate matters, Elkanah favored the wife without children over the wife who had all the children. This led to jealousy and rivalry between the two women. When they went to worship at the tabernacle, as they did faithfully each year at the appointed time, Elkanah tried to balance the rivalry by giving double portions of food to Hannah, the wife without children.

But this only made things worse because Peninnah, the wife with all the children, would say to Hannah, the barren one, “You’ve got the food, but I’ve got the children!” Hannah would cry and Elkanah would wring his hands and try to comfort her by saying, “Am I not better to you than ten sons?” (1:8). Hannah graciously would not answer that question! All she could think about was, “Why doesn’t God bless me with children? Why has He blessed this mean-spirited woman above me?” (https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-1-mother-who-gave-away-her-son-1-samuel-1-2)

Imagine yourself in her shoes. What would you do? Your life may not be perfect. You may have problems in finances, relationship, career, business, or, in other areas of your life.  While it is perfectly normal for every one of us to experience pain and encounter problems, how we deal with it is what will set us apart from others.

In 1Samuel 1:10, the Bible says “in bitterness of soul, she prayed unto the LORD and wept sore”. This is an example of a godly woman who makes good use of her trouble and sorrow; she focused on her negative feeling of affliction and turn it into an earnest, passionate, supplication.

God hears us when we pray. The Bible says that “God is close to the broken-hearted and those who are crushed in spirit”. (Psalm 34:18)

When we empty our heart with its sorrow, God will fill it with His peace –  a peace that surpasses all understanding.

While praying, Hannah made a vow that if God will gave her a son, she would give him up to God to become a Nazarite. God honored her request and after some time she became pregnant and gave birth to a boy. And they named him Samuel.

After they weaned him, Hanna brought him up to Shiloh to Eli the High Priest to minister before the Lord. And Samuel served the Lord all the days of his life.

Hanna has two important characteristics: she is grateful and hopeful.

Being grateful means you look back to the past and remember what the Lord has done for you. Hannah remembers that she was once a barren woman, a laughingstock amongst her neighbors. She remember the pain, the emptiness that she feel and how she battled with those crippling pangs of self-unworthiness.  She remembered how God had mercy upon her, how God took away her shame, and elevated her to that special privilege and sacred duty of motherhood.

Being hopeful means you look forward to the future with confident expectation that God’s best is yet to come and His promises in your life will be fulfilled. Hannah prayed with bitterness but she also prayed earnestly knowing that God will hear her plea.  Do we have this kind of attitude today?

In 1Samuel 2:21 we find that after Hanna dedicated Samuel to minister to the LORD before Eli the High Priest, God blessed her with more children (3 sons and 2 daughters) – an indisputable proof that we  cannot out-give the Lord, a compelling evidence God’s all-sufficient grace for our needs.  Through Him, we are abundantly supplied.

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