Hannah had a problem: She was barren and felt rejected by God.
In Old Testament times barrenness was considered a disgrace, and Hannah wept bitterly over her affliction. To compound her problems, Hannah’s husband Elkanah had another wife, Peninnah, who was quite difficult. She despised Hannah out of jealousy over the special affection Elkanah showed her.
Each time they would go to the house of the Lord, Peninnah would ridicule Hannah because the Lord had closed her womb. Hannah wept bitterly and refused to eat or be comforted. Her anxious spirit caused her to focus inwardly at her misery. Hannah felt she had been forgotten, always carrying that painful memory in her heart.
Remembering can be hard. It connects us to our loss, reminds us of our grief, and calls attention to our unmet needs. We remember a husband’s infidelity and we feel the loss of love and security. We remember a friend’s betrayal and we feel the loss of acceptance and value.
What’s the solution? What can we learn from Hannah’s story in the first chapter of I Samuel?
Hannah’s husband reproved her in her grief and challenged her to shift her focus onto God. This helped her look through a different lens—the lens of hope.
Hannah didn’t harden her heart or reject her husband’s reproof. Instead, she shifted her focus to God by prayer and petition.
Hannah identified her source of grief, (barrenness) put words to her pain, (“O Lord of hosts, if Thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of Thy maidservant and remember me, and not forget”) and expressed strong emotion (“In bitterness of soul Hannah prayed”).
Hannah made a vow. Her vow was to commit a child, if given, to the Lord. “If Thou wilt give Thy maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life.”
Hannah trusted God. She prayed and committed her desire to the Father and surrendered her right to hold onto it any longer. She was willing to let God show her favor, or trust him to meet her need in another way. She trusted that God knew her heart and held its best interest.
Hannah worshipped God. While her heart was heavy and her petition great, she chose an attitude of gratefulness.
What is the message from the story of Hannah? Losing heart is not an option!
Hannah didn’t give up. She kept praying through her pain. She was intentional and deliberate in her request to God. Year after year she continued to pray for a child—until finally the Lord remembered Hannah.
And you, friend? Do you feel forgotten? Are you losing yourself in your loss, or prayerfully trusting God to bless? Do you believe that the God Who remembered Hannah will remember you?
P.S. We’d love to know your thoughts; be sure to share in the comments section below. This month we will draw TEN winners from our commenters and the winners will receive one of these two books, Hope for a Hurting Heart or To Let You Know I Care by our featured author this month, Cheryl Karpen.
Rita Schulte is a licensed professional board certified counselor. She received her B.S. in psychology and a master’s degree in counseling from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Rita has a private practice with offices in Fairfax and Manassas Virginia where she specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, anxiety and depressive disorders as well as grief and loss issues. In April, 2011 she launched “Heartline Podcast” where she talks with top leaders in the Christian counseling and literary world about cutting edge issues affecting the hearts and lives of people today. She also airs a 1 minute devotional spot Consider This on 90.5 FM in NC and 90.9 FM in Lynchburg, VA. Heartline airs on Saturday evenings on 90.5 FM NC and will be heard on Christian Life Internet Radio in the coming months. Her book, Sifted As Wheat: finding hope and healing through the losses of life is currently with Hartline Literary Agency. You can follow her at http://www.siftedaswheat.com or Twitter at Heartlinepod.
Read more encouraging stories from brave-hearted women here. Be sure to grab your free copy of inspirational quotes and writing prompts while you’re there. (Look over on the right hand side!)