The story of Hannah is one of pain and deep yearning. Hannah is one of the two wives of Elkanah, the Ephraimite. The name of the other wife in this account is Peninnah. Hannah was constantly tormented by Peninnah because she had no children. Before I continue, let me digress a bit, now who would name their twin girls, Hannah and Peninnah? Just a silly thought, me and my quirky sense of humour, for those who know me very well. I just have the feeling that Peninnah would be scarred for life for she would always be viewed as the bad side of the good and bad duo. Hannah by itself is a gracious name for a girl, hands down.
Where was I now? Oh yes, Hannah’s torment. The one thing Hannah desired with all her heart was to bear a child. However, the bible tells us that God had closed her womb. This is the second instance in the bible that I am aware of, where God closed someone’s womb. In these two instances, the women whose wombs were closed were dearly loved by their husbands. Rachel was the other “loved” wife. Peninnah and Leah were the “unloved” wives. What lessons can we learn from these two accounts? Think about this for a minute, will you? It is God who closed the wombs of these two women and not a witch or some evil person! It goes to show that we cannot have everything in life. The “loved” wives had what the “unloved” wives yearned for, the love of their husbands. God blessed the “unloved wives” with children to make up for the lack of love from their husbands. The “unloved” wives had something the “loved” wives could not have, children which was their reward from God to make up for the bitterness stemming from being “unloved” in their marriages.
Marriage is a beautiful institution created by God. It can be full of pain when the right ingredients are missing, especially when we come into these relationships with all kinds of unreasonable expectations which are not based on godly principles. Sometimes perceptions are created by others that marriage is so blissful when it is not. You may feel that you are the only one with problems in your marriage but it is all across the board. Marriage is hard work really, not the bed of roses that we have created in our minds. If only we would come to that place where we can share our experiences and encourage one another. How wonderful that would be. Oh yes, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
Well what do you know, thank God that Hannah was a praying woman! She learned to channel the anguish of her barreness into prayer, so much so that Eli, the priest, thought she was drunk! There comes a time and a place that your situation must force you to your knees to pray and move those mountains blocking your path. Boy, did she pray and make a vow of dedication to God, if only He would grant her, her heart’s desire.
It came to pass that God answered Hannah’s prayer. She bore a son and named him Samuel saying “Because I have asked for him from the Lord”.
Lessons from Hamnah’s story:
-she was a woman of prayer;
-she had a deep faith; I would imagine that she continued to engage in fervent prayers until her answer came;
-she was faithful and very committed to her God for she honoured the vow she made. She offered up Samuel in service to the Lord!
Let us take a pause here, shall we? In all honesty, which woman in their right mind would give up a child they have been praying for? There are many women out there who love God dearly, but giving up your child willingly, no. It tells you that Hannah was very devoted to her God. See her powerful prayer of victory and thanksgiving in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. I am sorry, I cannot do a good job of describing this aspect of Hannah’s character because I cannot find the right words.
Now for the icing on the cake for Hannah. Obedience and faithfulness to God always comes with a reward. Eli blessed Elkanah and Hannah that the Lord should give them descendants from this woman for the loan that was given to the Lord in 1 Samuel 2:20. Hannah conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. Imagine if Hannah had never prayed for Samuel to come along. That would have been the end of her story. Never give up on your prayers for our God is faithful. Whatever situation is before you, look to Him for strength and He will bring you through it.