The story of Hannah is one that is seldom referred to and yet it has a lot to teach us. She was the mother to Prophet Samuel who played a great role in the history of Isreal. Her full story is found in 1 Samuel 1-2. For purposes of this post, let me summarize the story here.
Hannah was one of the two wives of Elkanah. Although her husband loved her deeply, unfortunately she had not yet given him any children. Her co wife Penninah often taunted her about her barrenness. Hannah’s desire to have children of her own often consumed her and she cried out to the Lord.
As was custom then, the family always traveled for the yearly sacrifice. One day after the sacrifice Hannah was deeply distressed and as always she turned to prayer. She went ahead and made a pledge to God that if he gave her a son she would dedicate him to serve in his house all the days of his life. She prayed in her heart and although her lips moved, no sound came out of her mouth. Eli the Priest saw her earnestly but silently praying and he mistook her actions for one who was drunk. He then urged her to give up her drinking. She responded by telling him of her discouragement and how she was pouring out her heart to the Lord. He then blessed her and said “go in peace and may the God of Israel grant your petition”. Hearing these words energized Hannah who went away happy.
When Hannah returned home, God faithfully answered her prayers and she gave birth to a son whom they named Samuel which means asked of God. Hannah’s joy lead her to pray a beautiful prayer which is recorded in 1 Samuel 2:1-10.
Let us look at some of the lessons that we can draw from Hannah’s story.
1. It is OK for us to have desires
In this story, we see that although Hannah had the love and support of her husband she had a deep longing for a child. Often, we refuse to recognize our desires and instead push them at the back of our minds. We rationalize this by thinking let me be content with what is before me.
In addition, people tend to confuse having a desire with not being content. In my view, it is a godly thing to have desires. I say this because scripture urges us to “take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart”. Very often, a desire is a deep need or want. Discontentment on the other hand arises when we fail to be thankful for what is before us and instead want more.
Our desires should be so big that only God can manifest them. Let us not shy away from going to him in prayer with our desires. At the right time he will be faithful and fulfill our petitions. Hannah refused to let go of her desire even when her husband tried to convince her otherwise she persisted.
Miracles still happen but in order for us to get one, we have to trust God with our desires. The lesson for us here is to always lay our desires at the feet of Jesus Christ and trust him to do much more than we expect.
2. God has a plan for each of us
We are not told why but we read that “God had not given her children”. Another version I read said “God had postponed her years of child bearing”. There are very many questions we have and their answers we shall never know this side of heaven since only God knows them.
In the case of Hannah’s story, what we know is that God had a plan for his people Israel and he needed someone to use to fulfill that plan. Maybe if Hannah had children in the time she wanted them little Samuel would not have been dedicated to God and he would not have been able to serve him the way he eventually did.
In the same way God had a plan for Hannah, he does have one for each of us. We are told that ” his plans are to prosper us and not harm us, to bring us hope and a future”. Let us remember this promise when we go through seasons of barrenness in our lives. Maybe it is in our work or relationships or any other area of life. Let us always recall that such times are temporary and at the right time he will make what is wrong right. However, we have a role to play during the years of barrenness and that is to remain faithful and keep crying out to God.
3. God makes all things beautiful in his time
From Hannah’s story we see that God does answer prayers even beyond what we ask of him. She cried out for a son he gave her more sons and two daughters. We see that when we declare our desires to God, amazing things can happen.
Hannah had been disadvantaged in a culture where children were regarded as assets. They were considered a form of labour to help in the fields. She had none. To make matters worse, her co wife never missed an opportunity to remind her of her fate. All this affected her and she was weak to the extent that she could not pray audibly but managed to mumble. But when God turns her mourning into dancing, she goes to him with praises. She expresses God’s sovereignty and shows that in God’s own time he makes all things beautiful.
Maybe like Hannah you have a deep desire that has consumed you. When you remember that Hannah did not give up crying to God, this should strengthen you to do the same. Given that God knows the beginning from the end, he will be faithful in his time and grant your heart’s desire. When this happens, your weariness will turn into joy.
Mother’s Day Series
Trusting God’s Timing: Lessons From Hannah (you are here)