by Brittney Chan
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Have you ever approached someone to talk out an issue and left the conversation an hour later feeling like you didn’t resolve anything? Perhaps it was a friend or co-worker and a particular concern really needed to be addressed, but afterwards you still sensed the same uncertainties you started with. If you’ve ever been there, then you know how frustrating it is and it’s even more discouraging when it happens in our prayer lives. If I’ll be honest, there’ve been many times when I’ve gone to the Lord with problems and I left carrying the SAME concerns. Was that God’s fault or mine?
Scripture teaches that God doesn’t intend for us to have any other kind of life than an abundant one! Abundant in grace. Abundant in mercy. Abundant in wisdom. Abundant. In. Answers. I truly believe that there is power in prayer if we will enter into our spiritual conversations with clarity of mind and purpose. We can see that kind of determination in the way Hannah came to God with her personal dilemma. Her very name means “fixed” or “settled” and that’s exactly how she prayed. Her story is found in 1 Samuel 1.
Because polygamy was permissible according to Moses: Hannah’s family was comprised of her husband, Elkanah; his other wife, Peninnah and Peninnah’s many sons and daughters. Hannah was deeply loved by her husband and was often favored over Peninnah, who hated her for it. Therefore Peninnah would flaunt and boast of the only thing she had that Hannah didn’t: children. Let me just say that in every Biblical account of a marriage with multiple wives, there is strife, jealousy and discontentment. That unhappiness is proof that polygamy has never been in God’s marital design from the beginning of time.
Though Elkanah - the leader of the home - kept his family in a regular attendance to the house of God, he still had issues between the four walls of his own house. I feel like this is an area where a lot of church-going folks today can get tripped up. While his faithfulness to church did not mean that he was entitled to a problem-free life, it did mean that Elkanah’s family had access to the ultimate Problem-Solver.
Your concerns are no reason to give up on God, but are all the more reason to run to Him!
Up until this time, Hannah was unable to bear children and her heart yearned for the chance to bring life into the world. Her barrenness led to bitterness and it gave her adversary a clear vantage point of her areas of insecurity.
During this time period, families would travel to the Tabernacle in Shiloh where the ark of the Covenant was kept. Every year, an animal was given as a peace-offering and after the blood was shed, the fat was burned and the priest was given certain parts the remaining meat; the rest of the animal was the family’s to feast on. One commentator said that Elkanah would give Hannah the better portion of what was left in an attempt to show his affection for her. This favoritism only fueled Peninnah’s envy and efforts to tear Hannah down.
Verse 10 paints a picture of Hannah’s state of mind at this time: “And she was in bitterness of soul.” This wording gives the idea of being chafed or being rubbed sore by a repetitive action. Hannah could only stand so much torture and ridicule from Peninnah. Her seemingly daily agitation drove Hannah crazy! And maybe you can relate to those emotions. Maybe it feels like the adversary of your soul has been provoking and tantalizing you with the same thing every day and maybe it’s something you’re already insecure about. If so, pay attention to what Hannah did: “and [she] prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore.” Hannah let it all out. She complained. She cried. She wept. She was transparently open and raw with God.
The thing I like about this is that Hannah seemed to know that all of her husband’s efforts to shower her with love only acted like salve to cover her wounds - he could only pacify the problem; but if she really wanted complete healing, she had to give it ALL to God.
Her prayer wasn’t loud and ostentatious; rather, it was birthed from the most tender spot in her heart.
Her story goes on, but I really feel like this is the turning point of it all. When Hannah made the decision to go to God and be real with Him, He took over and things started changing. Verse 18 attests to a transition in Hannah’s mindset: “...so the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.”
We all go through rough times in life where it seems like no one can understand the ways in which we are being fought. Other people may try to help by offering words of encouragement or by showing their affections for us, but their attempts never seem to change the issues. Is it a wonder why David cried out, “My help cometh from the Lord?” (Psalm 121:2) He knew that God was his only source of hope! But the Lord leaves the decision up to each one of us. He won’t force His plan or His peace on our lives. If we can stop chasing control or looking to others for the solution; just like Hannah, God can take our sorrows and pain and turn them into a song of praise!
I pray that You would equip us with an audacious boldness to share the secrets of our hearts with You. Let us be real and transparent before You because You find pleasure in this kind of trust. I pray that we would withhold nothing from You and help us to realize that complete openness can be a form of worship to You.
In Jesus’ precious name,