I've been avoiding reading the familiar story of Hannah and her struggle to have children. Just seems cliche. "You're having trouble having children, yea you should read about Hannah." ...maybe I'm just stubborn. Well, I caved. Call it weakness or call it needing a break from Leviticus. Either way. I ended up here.
Go read it.
1 Samuel 1-2.
Read it for the first time.
Read it for the 100th time.
Read it in a different translation.
There's so many things I want to highlight.
It's just...so good.
I've never felt more understood.
1) Elkanah had two wives. Peninnah and Hannah. Peninnah had children. Hannah did not.
When you have difficulty getting pregnant you often have trouble emotionally being around children. And people with children. And conversations about children. And pregnancy announcements. Etc. You name it. You feel guilty that you feel this way. And deep down you are happy for people. And deep down you want to be openly happy for them and around them. But it is often just hard. I hear it time and again in the support groups I'm in. It is probably one of the biggest struggles. Thankfully the Father has really been my strength here that I have few hard days like this.
But Hannah. And Peninnah. Not only is Hannah around this one who has children while she doesn't. But this woman is the other wife. Can you imagine? How deeply that must pain Hannah. Hannah understood.
2) But her rival wife taunted her cruelly, rubbing it in and never letting her forget that God had not given her children.
Ladies in my support group constantly discuss experiences they have with people in their lives not understanding their situation and being insensitive. I haven't experienced this too much..I attribute it to the idea that people just don't know what they don't know, so you have to tell them. You can't expect them to understand if you don't make them aware. And so I try to talk pretty openly about things so people know and understand. As a result, I haven't experienced insensitivity..and if I have I'm convinced it's simply a runoff of something else in their own life that they are walking through themselves.
But Hannah. She was the prime example of experienced insensitivity. Peninnah taunted her. And not only that...yea go ahead and throw in, "God hasn't given you children." I'm sure Hannah was already wondering, "Why God? When? Ever?" I can't even imagine.
3) This went on year after year. Everytime she want to the sanctuary of God she could expect to be taunted.
Year. After year.
And in the sanctuary of God?
Honestly, it just seems unfair and cruel.
4) Hannah was reduced to tears. Hannah entered the sanctuary. Crushed in soul she prayed to God and cried and cried inconsolably.
It's hard. And it's okay to be hard.
5) Oh God. If You'll take a good, hard look at my pain, if you'll quit neglecting me and go into action for me by giving me a son, I'll give him completely, unreservedly to You. I'll set him apart for a life of holy discipline.
I've been pouring out my heart. It's because I'm so desperately unhappy and in such pain that I've stayed here so long.
I...kind of think Hannah is crazy here. Not the pain and heartache..that part makes sense to me..but the offering of her son that she had asked for. I mean, keep reading. You'll see what I mean.
6) Hannah gets pregnant like right away after Eli essentially blesses her (HOLY AWESOME!) And Hannah weans her son Samuel and brings him back to the sanctuary where he will stay as she and Elkanah go back home. And it says the child was so young to be sent off.
What?! You finally have your son and now he's gone? I mean, yea, you're keeping your promise. But that was quite a bold promise. And Hannah says "I prayed for this child and God gave me what I asked for. And now I have dedicated him to God. He's dedicated to God for life." Then and there they worshiped God....I...don't know if I could do that.
And Elkanah and Hannah would make the annual trip to the sanctuary and see Samuel. Annual. Annually seeing her son that she so longed for. Hannah. You inspire me.
And just when you don't understand where this story is going. God steps in in His faithfulness. Again. In his faithfulness and love.
7) And Eli blessed Elkanah and Hannah.
"God give you children to replace this child you have dedicated to God."
God was most especially kind to Hannah. She had three more some and two daughters.
5 more children?! No children for years and years. And now 5 more. 6 total.
I am just so struck by His faithfulness.
By His love.
By restoration of all those years.
By Hannah's strength.
Yes strength even in tears and pain.
And He is good.