My ESV Bible Reading Plan put me in 1 Samuel for today. I was struck with the story of Hannah (Samuel’s mother) in a new way.
We meet Hannah in Chapter 1. She is one of two wives (which we gather is *not* God’s perfect plan for marriage as it causes great discord) and is constantly shamed because of her barrenness.
And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb. So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the LORD, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. And Elkanah, her husband, said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”
(1 Samuel 1:6-8 ESV)
Over the years, Hannah faithfully comes to the temple to worship and ask the Lord for a child. This particular day the high priest, Eli, decides to confront Hannah as she cries out to God.
As she continued praying before the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you.” But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” (1 Samuel 1:12-16 ESV)
How often we emotional women can be misunderstood! I think it is important to remember that Hannah is anything but hormonally mood-swinging. She is begging the Lord for a request that has been on her heart for years and years. Eli wants to dismiss her as being drunk or insane, but she is neither. For one, I am comforted that God placed women like Hannah in the Bible who have deep desires and expressions of those desires.
The passage continues,
Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.
(1 Samuel 1:17-18 ESV)
Do you see? The Lord promised to answer her prayers! And, we know from the rest of Samuel, she did bear a son and many more children. God honored her faithfulness, her patience, and her petitions. Remember that Hannah went to the source of blessings to ask for blessing. She didn’t disregard or undermine the Lord’s plan for her life. Though the deep yearning to be a mother was in her prayers for a long time, she did not begin to look for anywhere else except the Father to provide. And He did. He always does His will.
Read this whole story for yourself. I was comforted like never before. My hopes and dreams that haven’t gone away ARE heard by my God.