Throughout the next year I will post an ongoing series on Kingdom Women—women God has used and is using in His great Kingdom endeavor. We will meet these women in God’s Word, in the early church, in the dark ages, in the past great missionary efforts and among today’s true followers of Jesus. Today we meet Hannah from 1 Samuel 1-2.
I received my first Bible when I was confirmed and didn’t open it until my life began to unravel at 19. Quite frankly, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me back then.
As I began to follow Jesus I found myself surrounded by fellow-followers who showed me the value of God’s Word, which set in motion a life-long-longing for glimpses of God in the pages of Scripture. I’ve learned that he seems to show up most vividly in the mundane, and often intimate, rhythms of life.
Some years back, after being married for about four years, Bob and I found ourselves in the agony of infertility. Struggling to make sense of this unexpected turn, I searched the Scripture for answers and, as I cried out to God for a baby, I discovered Hannah’s story in the book of I Samuel. I felt as though the Lord preserved her story just for me. All at once I was no longer alone.
Hannah lived in the hill country near Jerusalem with her husband Elkanah, and his second wife Peninnah. Hannah, we learn, was Elkanah’s favorite wife-–even though she was barren (an indication of God’s disfavor).
Peninnah, the mother of several children and most likely jealous for her husband’s favor (elevating her in the eyes of Jewish society) used motherhood to her advantage. She made fun of and taunted Hannah’s barrenness, provoking her to the point of great distress. Elkanah didn’t understand Hannah’s despair and frankly wondered why his love wasn’t enough for her.
Although my circumstances varied greatly from Hannah’s, I often felt like she did. Every time I’d hear a friend was pregnant, I felt aggravated, “Why her and not me?”
Well-meaning friends and family would try to exhort me, explaining all of the reasons why I wasn’t pregnant–-many of which are too “delicate” to mention in a blog. I felt as though a constant battle of faith was being waged in my heart. Hannah became my soul mate.
Finding nowhere else to turn, Hannah finally ran to the Tabernacle (the official place for prayer in her day) and poured her heart out to God. Her agony and grief were so palatable that Eli the priest rebuked her for being drunk!
Hannah explained to Eli the reason for her tears, and he blessed her and assured her that God had heard her prayers. After receiving this blessing, Hannah returned to eating and was no longer sad. I’m sure there must have been lots of coffee and chocolate.
I never realized, until reading this portion of the story, that it was okay to express raw and honest emotion to God. I tried so hard to keep a “stiff upper lip” and persevere through the tests, the disappointments, the humiliation, the misguided advice and the seemingly millions of babies being born all around me. Hannah taught me how to express my heartache to the Lord.
In less than a year Hannah gave birth to Samuel, and three years later she returned to the Tabernacle and presented him to God for lifelong service, fulfilling her promise. After leaving her son with Eli, she sings a song, which expresses a beautifully sincere faith and depth of wors
Samuel was used by God to usher in the reign ofKing David–a forerunner of King Jesus. I love how God uses barren women in backwater towns to tell his great story of redemption. God has used my childlessness to tell his story too, which makes it all worthwhile.
What about you? What do you learn from Hannah?
Cas Monaco has worked with college students for 25 years and loves to hear their stories, encourage them in their walk with the Lord, and challenge them to live for Jesus. Along with a compassion for people, Cas has a deep love for the Word of God. She and her husband Bob have worked with college students at the University of Utah, the University of Texas, and in Moscow, Russia. They currently serve with CRU in North Carolina. She is the author of eight Bible studies, including Absolutely Free in Christ, available on Amazon. You can discover more at her blog, Thru a Dirty Window. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter @CasMonaco.