God’s faithfulness to Hannah is one of my favourite accounts in the Bible to read when I need encouragement.
Hannah was just an ordinary woman, not that different to you or me today, and like many of us, although she got on with her day-to-day life, she carried a burden deep inside that caused her heart to ache.
Many of us carry hidden burdens: grief, loss, financial stress, loneliness, the pain of an “empty nest,” or chronic illness.
In Hannah’s story her heartache was her longing for a child. She had a husband who clearly doted on her, but she longed for a baby, and it didn’t help that her husband’s other wife had an abundance of children and bullied Hannah at every opportunity. You can read the account in 1 Samuel 1:1–18
Here are some things that stand out to me in this incredible God-story.
The Lord had closed her womb
See 1Samuel 1:5
God allowed Hannah to go through that time of infertility so that he could show her his goodness.
There may be times when we experience ‘barrenness’ in our lives; when other people’s lives, careers and families may seem so fertile in comparison to ours.
But God knows the plans he has for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us – plans to give us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11) His timing is always impeccable.
God had great plans for Hannah, as we will see.
Hannah’s Pain Drew Her To Seek God
See 1 Samuel 1:9
As a family they went to Shiloh every year, to visit the temple. But it seems it was Hannah’s choice, on that particular day, to go alone into the temple, seek God’s presence and present her heartbreak and deepest longings to Him.
Most of us can think of times when we’ve allowed life to get the better of us. But when we make the decision to cease ‘wallowing’ in our misery or trying to fix our circumstances by ourselves and seek God’s presence and help instead, we will always find Him, our “ refuge and strength,” our “ever present help.”
She Believed God
“Oh, thank you, sir!” she exclaimed. Then she went back and began to eat again, and she was no longer sad.”1Samuel 1:18
After Eli had prophesied over her, Hannah dried her tears and left there with a new lightness in her step and hope in her heart
‘Why?’ we might ask. Her circumstances were outwardly still the same. She wasn’t pregnant. So what was the difference?
The difference was in Hannah; From the moment Eli spoke those words of prophesy over her, something changed on the inside. Hannah believed what God had promised and that was enough to put a smile in her face and bring back her appetite!
Sometimes, when we come to the end of our tether and we feel we have no more strength, all we need is a friend to come alongside and pray with us. That’s why fellowship and being part of a church body is so important.
Often, we waver and become discouraged when God doesn’t do what we want Him to do when we want it done. His promise is enough. He is a covenant keeping God, who never breaks his promises!
God Rewarded Her Faithfulness
It’s easy to read over this story and forget the human element. How hard it must have been to hand over her precious little boy in honour of her promise to God. But for Hannah, a promise was a promise. God had kept his promise to her and now she would keep her promise to the one who had, as she herself put it, taken away her shame.
And the story doesn’t end there. God blessed Hannah with five more children. Our God is the God of abundance! Oh I love this story!!
So today, if you are waiting for the fulfilment of a promise, or if you are experiencing a ‘barrenness’ in any part of your life, remember Hannah. Seek God’s presence, comfort and counsel above all else, and don’t give up hope. Remember the words of Jesus, that we should:
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”Matthew 6:33
Present your prayer to God and wait for his answer. And then believe him, however long that answer takes to come to fruition.
Our God always keeps His promises.