Strong Women from the Bible: Hannah's Story
What area of life have you taken into your own hands? Has it worked out the way you hoped?
Challenge: Release your way of doing it, in exchange for God’s way & God’s timing.
The Promise: Worship replaces worry.
Hannah & Peninnah were the wife of Elkanah. Hannah had no children, while the second wife had children. This was to Hannah’s shame and great vexation not to have children. In those days, having children was your identity in order to pass down the family inheritance and name. Elkanah likely married Peninnah after Hannah was barren in order to conceive an heir.
The family went up every year at Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to the Lord. Elkanah gave Peninnah and her sons/daughters portions, but to Hannah he gave double portions because he loved her. EVEN THOUGH the “LORD had closed her womb…” as the Bible says.
That says a lot about Elkanah, and their relationship. Think about your husband, or someone close to you in your life. The person on earth who knows every weakness you have, but still shows unconditional love! Lesson #1, Hannah was favored before any “skill,” or “accomplishment” was evident in her life. This goes for you and I as well. Before we “prove” our worth to God, or “do” anything significant - we still are highly favored by the Lord on the basis that we belong to Him!
Regardless, not having children tormented Hannah’s mind… the second wife, Peninnah sure didn’t help matters. In fact, she made them worse! The Bible says, “And her rival (Hannah’s) used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb…”1 Samuel 1:6
Lesson #2, two wives in the household is an all around bad idea! I wonder how long Hannah, dealt with this torment. The Bible said this went on “year after year”... rightfully so, Hannah was fed up with her “roomate” and must of had tormenting thought processes for a LONG TIME. Lesson #3, Hannah must have been dealing with some pretty toxic thinking all of those years. “I will never add up. I am worthless. I am insignificant, I cannot even carry a child. I don’t understand why my husband loves me, there’s nothing I can give him…” This is what happens when we try to take things into our own hands. The result is toxic thinking, dead ends, broken relationships, or compromise.
What have you tried taking into your own hands? Is it turning out the way you have hoped? Maybe there is a broken relationship you’re trying to salvage on your own. But as hard as you try, bitterness gets the best of you when you try your hardest to be kind. Maybe it’s your body image… you try your hardest to eat right and exercise well, but you can’t seem to ever “arrive” even after you hit your milestones or goals. Maybe you’re living with a boyfriend, and although he promises to change, things seem to remain the same. You brush little character flaws repeatedly under the rug wishfully thinking that “when we get married some day” he will change… This was poor Hannah’s life for years...until one day something snapped. Everything was about to change.
One year, at Shiloh when they came every year worshiping together with her family she did something rather radical that would forever change her destiny. “...She vowed a vow and said, O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life…”1 Samuel 1:11 Hannah had had it! She finally said out loud, and in her heart, and unknowingly confessed to another that she HAD HAD IT! She was done with this victim mentality, with letting someone else ruin her day, and feeling worthless. She said, GOD HELP! GOD, I GIVE YOU MY HOPELESSNESS, AND I TAKE YOUR PLANS INSTEAD!! This was huge!
Just like Hannah… in what area do you and I need to release our way of doing something, in exchange for God’s way & God’s timing??
My story, I’ve been held back most of my life with an internal toxic repeating thought of “Brooke, you are just too much, too intense, too much of a smart alic. You overwhelm people, and they probably dread it when you show up.” YUCK. Until I finally woke up one day, realized what I was doing and said, “GOD HELP ME! I AM MADE IN YOUR IMAGE! I AM BEAUTIFUL AND YOU CREATED ME WITH A VOICE, A PASSION, AND WITH A LOVE FOR PEOPLE. PEOPLE ARE EXCITED TO HEAR FROM ME AND SPEND TIME WITH ME! GOD HELP ME TRUST IN YOU!”. That one act of realizing what I was actually thinking, and giving up “control” of what I perceived people thought of me… changed everything. So what’s your area?
Meanwhile, the priest of the Lord, Eli was in the temple watching this crazy lady spill out her guts before the Lord. He saw her mouth moving and her body animated, but heard no sound come out of her mouth. He must have thought, “who let this nut job into the temple! What disgrace!” So he confronts her, thinks she’s drunk, and probably just wanted her to get a cheeseburger and go sober up. Ok, they didn’t have cheese burgers back then...maybe a gyro and some fries...something!
Hannah replies, she is in fact NOT drunk, but desperate for the Lord to help her conceive and bear a son to redeem her shame and misery.
Let me stop right here… sometimes waiting on the Lord and His promise looks like INSANITY to those on the outside. We must put off pride, and put on humility as we hold fast to the desires HE has put on our hearts!
Eli, most likely relieved says to Hannah after their little exchange…”Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” 1 Samuel 1:17 The Bible says that Hannah went away and her face was no longer sad. No longer sad!? What was it about that 60 second exchange that turned her greatest problem into peace? I believe it was Eli’s blessing…
She needed to get desperate before the Lord and exchange HER striving for His plans. Then she needed the blessing, agreement and affirmation from someone else. In this case, Eli, that she was in fact not crazy, but could continue to trust in the Lord. Waiting this time, with peace.
The next step was worship. Hannah’s new level of faith, led to worship, and in DUE TIME, she conceived and bore a son, Samuel.
In Hannah’s story, worship replaced worry. God gave her something much better than a child to take away her grief, He gave her a child that would display to the world the Word of God. God always gives us more than we initially ask of Him. The more is for other’s benefit…
Then she did the most astonishing thing of all, she took her promise from God, had three glorious years of raising him, laughing with him, teaching him, feeding him, changing him, chasing him, and picking up his legos (or whatever they played with in those days…). She upheld her promise to dedicate her son to the Lord’s purpose.
She traveled with her beloved son to the same place she had cried out to the Lord just a few short years ago for this very son. Hannah found herself at Shiloh once again - with a bull, grain and wine in addition to her most prized possession of all to give to the Lord… her son! Can you imagine the utter emotion she must have felt!? Here he is Lord! You gave him to me, now I’m giving him back to you. But if you’ve changed your mind, can I just keep him for life? Can I have him at least until he can ride a bike, read, graduate from high school!? But that’s not what Hannah did…
She presented her precious son, Samuel to the priest Eli, “Oh my Lord! As you live, my Lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence to the Lord, For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord, As long as hi lives, he is lent to the Lord.” 1 Samuel 127-28
And there Hannah found herself. Walking back home, without child. The very next chapter of Samuel after this dramatic exchange is the most beautiful song Hannah sings. I like to imagine on her walk home…
“My heart rejoices in the Lord! The Lord has made me strong. Now I have an answer for my enemies; I rejoice because you rescued me. No one is holy like the Lord! There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.” 1 Samuel 2:1-2
She exchanged her plans for God’s plans. She got something better in return - a heart of worship and a son who would change the world as the Lord powerfully used him.
What have you taken into your own hands? Are you willing to replace it, the desire, or the dream for God’s? You can be sure like Hannah, that your worry will become worship, and your reward will bring Him much glory!