Hannah felt the bitter sting in her belly—her childless belly. The ache, the longing—it threatened to suffocate her. So desperately she longed for a child. Another year had passed, another year of traveling with a barren womb. This year, she simply couldn’t take it. Her husband Elkanah loved her. She knew he loved her, but Peninnah, his other wife, tormented her. Day after day, Penninah reminded her that she was fertile, well able to bear children, while Hannah could not.
When they reached the city after their long travels, Hannah stole away. She couldn’t take Peninnah’s mocking. She couldn’t take the sight of Peninnah's children. She couldn’t take Elkanah’s pity—yes, his love felt like pity. Hannah collapsed onto the temple floor weeping, begging God to remember her. There was only one thing in the world she wanted—a child. If only God would give her a child.
Have you ever felt forgotten by God, as if you’ve cried out and cried out and your prayers are falling on deaf ears? Hannah knew that feeling. Many people are believing God for deep dreams on their hearts—husbands, children, prodigals coming home, healing in their bodies—and nothing changes.
And instead of finding themselves surrounded by people encouraging them to trust God, they find people like Peninnah all too ready to show up on the scene. These voices of discouragement mock and berate them, reminding them that they’re not enough, that God won’t ever come through, and that they’ll always be a victim to their circumstance.
If you are in a place of feeling forgotten by God, you are not alone. So many of us have experienced this same fear of abandonment and crippling doubt—will God really come through? If you are in such a place, let the next part of Hannah’s story speak to your heart.
THE LORD REMEMBERED HER
1 Samuel 1:10-17,19-20
“In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, ‘Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.’ As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, ‘How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.’
‘Not so, my lord,’ Hannah replied, ‘I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.’
Eli answered, ‘Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.’
Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, ‘Because I asked the Lord for him.’”
God remembered her. He gave Hannah a son. Did that mean that God had forgotten about her until she cried out? No. Rather, God remembered the intention of His heart towards Hannah from the very beginning. God always intended to give Hannah children. So why did it take so long?
What if He was waiting to answer her prayer until she was willing to dedicate her son back to Him? What if, all along, God wanted to give Hannah a son who would change the entire nation of Israel? What if the answer took so long because of the destiny on Samuel’s life?
From before the foundations of time, God had an extraordinary destiny for Samuel. Hannah’s breakthrough wasn’t simply breakthrough for her—it was breakthrough for the entire nation of Israel. Her son, Samuel, was a prophet to King Saul and to King David. His life drastically altered the history of Israel. In the middle of the hardship, God was shaping a mother who could fully trust God with such a son.
God was setting up the circumstances for a miracle. While He in no way caused Hannah pain or enjoyed watching her suffer, He chose to invite her into a miraculous moment that would change history. God cared about Hannah’s heart and wasn’t just using her to accomplish His purpose. Rather, He saw a woman He could trust, and He allowed the struggle to develop a mother who would live with wholehearted surrender to God—even when it came to her firstborn son.
THE STRATEGY AND KINDNESS OF GOD
What if God is strategic with you? What if He's waiting for just the right moment to release your breakthrough and answer your prayer? What if it's because the answer is bigger than you?
In His sovereignty and His kindness, God wants to entrust us with destiny that is bigger than we presently are. If God is going to entrust you with a Samuel, you need the kind of wholehearted surrender and faith Hannah had. But, this kind of faith doesn’t grow overnight. It is in walking through challenges and facing obstacles that we develop the character to carry our callings.
So, if you are experiencing deferred hope, a delayed promise, or an unanswered prayer, hold onto hope. Lean into the Presence of God and allow Him to comfort your heart. He will speak the words your heart needs to hear.
And, even as God will sometimes use difficult circumstances to develop your faith and character, know this: God is kind. He doesn’t force hardship on you to shape your character. He cares about your heart. He cares about you. He doesn’t withhold good things from those who love Him. Rather, He is inviting You into intimacy. He longs to encounter you as a lover and as the Comforter. He longs to satisfy your heart even before you receive the desire of your heart. He remembers you.
And the destiny He’s inviting you into?
It will enthrall you.
©2018 All Rights Reserved
Written by Katelyn Alexander
Blog Cover Photo by Cheron James on Unsplash
Sources: THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.