Hannah had no idea what was coming. All she could see was the here and now. All she could feel was the pain, the despair, and the emptiness. All she could hear was the taunting, the provoking. All she had was a dream unfulfilled. Maybe God was a god who did not really care; a god who did not love her. Maybe God was angry with her, disappointed in her and wanted to punish her. Was He not all-powerful? Could He not help her conceive? He had kept her from having children (1 Samuel 1:2). And she had no idea what was coming.
She Had No Hope – No Opportunity
Think about it. How would you feel? How have you felt? Have you had a dream go unfulfilled? Year after year Peninah would taunt, “I am pregnant again! . . . and you are not!” (1 Samuel 1:6). Month after month hoping, only to be disappointed again and again. Hopelessness must have filled her soul – the feeling of rejection and no opportunity. This was a time when a woman’s worth was measured by her ability to produce an heir. No blaming Elkanah, either. He had produced offspring through her rival. She was the failure. She was the incompetent one. She was to blame. She was so focused on what she didn’t have, that she couldn’t see what she did have. She had a husband who loved her more than any other (1 Samuel 1:5). He considered her of great worth. She had a home. She had security. But all that was lost on her because she had no children.
She Had to Surrender
Finally one year Hannah did something different.
“Once (italics added) when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. . . . In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord. And she made a vow, saying, ‘O Lord Almighty, if you will look upon 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 . . .’”
1 Samuel 1:9-11
Hannah finally turned to God. Had she not done that before? Maybe, but probably not like this, not with a surrendered heart! This time she truly poured her heart out to God. She asked God for a chance – give me the opportunity to be a mom and I will dedicate him for the rest of his life. She was so surrendered that after her prayer she was no longer downcast and then went home and gave to her husband (1 Samuel 1:18-19)! And God answered her prayer.
She Had it All
Hannah fulfilled her vow to God and dedicated her son Samuel to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:28). Her strength is amazing! Her devotion is inspiring! Her faith and trust in God is so evident in her prayer (1 Samuel 2:1-10). And it is incredible to think that she did not start out that way. I have often wondered why God makes us wait or why He allows suffering and I have come to this conclusion. It is the only way to have it all! Gaining a faith and trust in God is having it all. But we don’t always believe that.
You Can Have it All
What about the woman whose prayer God answers differently, the woman who still has no child, whose husband did die, or whose child does have special needs? It’s during these times we learn to pray to see the opportunities God has for us. Look at what we can gain from our suffering:
- We learn obedience – a true yielding to God’s will | Hebrews 5:8
- We develop character, which gives us hope | Romans 5:3
- We learn to rely on God | 1 Corinthians 1:9
- We can be a model example | 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7
- It helps others obtain salvation | 2 Timothy 2:9-10
- We can be done with sin | 1 Peter 4:1
- We become heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ | Romans 8:17
And isn’t that having it all?
It was a time when Israel was rejecting God as king. God needed a devoted man, a man who had the example of a devoted mother. God wanted a judge for Israel who would desire Him when the rest of Israel desired to be just like the world. He wanted a man who could raise up a king and not be swayed or intimidated by that king. He wanted a man who would always see Him as the true King. I believe Samuel was able to be that way because Hannah was able. Hannah had no idea what was coming, but God did!