One of the greatest heartaches a woman can experience is the inability to have a child of her own. Not every woman longs for motherhood, but for women who do and who month after month are disappointed they have not conceived, the pain they feel is cruel and unrelenting.
On top of that heartache, a woman in Old Testament times was burdened by the common belief that childlessness was a curse, a sign that God was angry with her, as well as by the sense that she had failed her husband. After all, every man longs for a son, an heir, someone to carry on the family name.
Played out against this backdrop is one of the most moving stories I’ve ever read, the story of a woman we meet in 1 Samuel 1. Hannah was one of Elkanah’s two wives. This is how the author introduced her:
Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not. — 1 Samuel 1:2
Nothing more needed to be said.
Adding to Hannah’s pain was the cruelty of the other wife:
Peninnah would taunt Hannah and make fun of her because the Lord had kept her from having children. Year after year it was the same. — 1 Samuel 1:6-7
That kind of ongoing pain changes a person. It either draws her closer to the heart of God, who understands suffering, or it makes her question His love or even His very existence. What did Hannah choose to do in her darkest night? This heartbroken woman knew where to take her pain:
Hannah got up and went to pray. — 1 Samuel 1:9
And she prayed with such passion that Eli, the priest, thought she was drunk. Hannah wasn’t drunk; she was desperate. She told Eli,
I was pouring out my heart to the Lord. — 1 Samuel 1:15
Hannah could have become bitter toward Peninnah, toward Elkinah, and even toward God, but instead she cried out to Him in her pain. May we do the same.
Five Minutes in the Word
[The Lord] gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. — Isaiah 40:29-31
In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and trust shall be your strength. — Isaiah 30:15
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. — Psalm 34:18
Cast all your anxiety on [God] because He cares for you. — 1 Peter 5:7
Watch the Replay of Our Live Author Chat with Sheila
Excerpted with permission from 5 Minutes with Jesus by Sheila Walsh, copyright Thomas Nelson.
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Are you going through something heartbreaking that has the potential to either drive you away from God or drive you towards your knees before the One who loves us the most? Do you feel shamed and mistreated and wonder why God has yet to intervene? Remember how closely He is watching and listening (Isaiah 65:24). Be reminded of God’s faithfulness to His children when we call on His name (James 5:13-15). Take your desperate prayer to Him today. He’s waiting for you to cry out. Come share with us your thoughts on our blog! We want to hear from you. ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full