Have you ever felt like you’ve just stumbled on a passage of Scripture, later to discover that was actually divinely orchestrated? That just happened to me. Recently coming out of a season of prayer and fasting, it was like the Lord opened my Bible to 1 Samuel and guided my reading.
For more context to the thoughts scribed below, read 1 Samuel, chapter one here.
As I first read through Hannah’s story, I felt like my insides were gasping. Her story seemed to jump off the pages and became my story. I felt great empathy towards her. It was like I could feel her anguish and her heartache. Her hopelessness felt real. I asked God to speak and then I read it again.
Hannah was childless. Not only was she childless, but her husband’s other wife (let’s not get into that…) who had children of her own provoked her to tears. That sounds awful. The interesting thing about this passage is that it clearly states that the Lord closed Hannah’s womb. And, He kept it closed when Hannah brought her petition(s) before the Him.
Children: a sign of blessing, more children signified a bigger blessing. Children carried on your family name, they learned your trade, they were your insurance policy and cared for you when you grew older.
Zooming out on the story, there are several things that I love about what the author’s penned about Hannah.
Hannah prayed… earnestly. The text uses the verbiage whenever Hannah went to the temple. This implies that this wasn’t a one-time pleading. She continually brought her requests before the Lord, regardless of the unchanging nature of her circumstance, regardless of the time lapsed and her emotions felt.
Hannah was real about her needs, her heartache and where she was at. Hannah wept. She pleaded for the Lord to look upon her misery. The Bible describes her as praying so hard that she caught the priest’s attention, in fact, she prayed so hard that he thought she was drunk.
Hannah recognized who God was and that He was able to do anything. In her inability to produce, she ran to the source of life. She didn’t let her faith cripple her.
Hannah believed the word of the Lord. Eli must have seen her faith. He spoke to her inability—to the hopes and dreams she was unable to produce on her own—to the dead place in her life and promised new life. He spoke to her of things that seemed impossible, what probably felt impossible to hope for, let alone believe in. Yet, Hannah believed. In fact, I think she believed with her whole heart. As she left, her countenance changed. She knew that God was going to grant her request as the prophet promised. After all, God’s Word never returns void.
The last thing I that stands out to me about this passage is actually the part I love the most. Hannah brought honor where honor was due. Hannah conceived and bore a son. And get this, she named her babe Samuel. Why is that significant? Because Samuel means the Lord provides.
Her blessing, her namesake, her insurance policy. The Lord provides.
How great is that? Literally every time Samuel’s name was spoken, Hannah’s story, Samuel’s story…God’s story was retold.
Sometimes, the Lord closes or pauses something so He can open or un-pause it later. The things God did in Hannah—the heart that grew in her during the asking—was one that wouldn’t have grown if she would’ve have been granted on her first ask. Or, if it’d been given without her having to ask at all.
What if Hannah would have kept the baby? He may not have grown up to be God’s mouthpiece. He wouldn’t wouldn’t have anointed King David; the lineage of Christ, the throne God promised to last forever. God knows what’s best. He sees the whole big, beautiful picture. Giving us what we ask for the first time we ask for it isn’t always best.
The question I’ve found myself asking over the past week is this: What am I pleading God for? And what should I be asking for? Have I given up on things God’s promised, simply because they don’t fit into the timeline I think they should?
My challenge today for me, and maybe for you too is to ask. Then expect and believe and give God the credit.