Our favored one today is a woman named Hannah. It comes from 1 Samuel 1. Hannah’s story is one of anguish, heartbreak, favor, faith, peace and blessing. First of all, Hannah was married to a man named Elkanah. Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Penninah. This doesn’t sound like a very good idea to me, but polygamy was often practiced back in those days. However, I can’t find anywhere in scripture where it seemed to work out well. In this story Penninah had children and Hannah did not, and that brought on jealousy. Hannah was jealous of the fact that Penninah had children and Penninah took the opportunity to rub it in. Elkanah loved Hannah deeply and tried to do what he could to show her that her not having children did not affect the love he had for her. But Hannah was still heartbroken over the fact that she desired motherhood but so far it had not been hers to enjoy. And on top of it, she had a front row seat to Penninah’s motherhood journey. I can only imagine how hard that must have been.
Elkanah was apparently a godly man, in that he took his family to Shiloh every year to offer sacrifices to God. When they did, Elkanah would give portions of the sacrificial meat to Penninah and her children but to Hannah, he gave her a double portion to show his love for her. But Hannah’s heart was broken over the fact that she had no children. Elkanah was trying, but there really wasn’t a lot he could do to make it better for her. So Hannah goes off by herself to the temple to pray to God.
She pours her heart out and she makes a vow to God if he will grant her request for a son that she will dedicate him back to the Lord. Eli, the priest, mistakes Hannah’s anguish for drunkenness and he rebukes her.
“But Hannah answered, ‘No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord.’” 1 Samuel 1:15
Have you ever been there? In a situation that you felt you had to pour it all out to the Lord. The kind of desperation that brings gut wrenching sobs is where Hannah was. I can feel her anguish and her heartbreak, as I have been there too. I have been at a point where pouring it all out to God is the only thing left to do. Hannah was at a point where she was ready to bargain with the Lord. When Eli sees that Hannah is not a drunken woman but that she was a woman with anguish in her heart. He prays for her as well.
“Then Eli answered, ‘Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.’” 1 Samuel 1:17
Hannah has poured her heart out to God, she has poured her heart out to Eli and then she pulls herself together. She has found a peace that God has heard her. Maybe just because of her own prayer, maybe because of Eli, but nevertheless going to God with her feelings, her heart, her hurt has at least turned her attitude around. Sometimes you just have to pour it all out to find peace.
“And she said, ‘Let your servant find favor in your eyes.’ Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.” 1 Samuel 1:18
Hannah had found peace in her circumstances. Hannah had prayed to God for a son and had in the process asked for favor from Eli. Hannah had found her faith. She had faith that God had heard her. She took what Eli said as a word from God that He would grant her prayer. Maybe in her asking Eli for favor she was asking him to continue to pray for her.
The next morning, Elkanah and family worshiped the Lord. This time it seems that Hannah was able to truly worship as she had found her faith in pouring her heart out to God. I love that Hannah found her faith and her peace before she received her blessing.
“They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her.” 1 Samuel 1:19
I love this story about Hannah because it is so real. Hannah knew heartbreak. She knew anguish and bitterness but when she pours it all out to God, she finds her faith. She finds her peace. And the bonus is she is blessed with her son. She also fulfills her vow of dedicating him to the Lord by taking him to live in the temple after he was weaned. She visits her son in the temple every year and takes him a robe that she makes for him.
Hannah found favor and her prayer was answered. But the most important thing that Hannah found was her faith and peace. Sometimes it takes a good old gut wrenching, crying, prayer session of laying it all out to God to regain our peace when things are not going the way we hoped. I have found that when I do that, when I lay it out to Him, and pray and maybe cry, when I pour my heart out to Him, I will find peace and it restores my faith.
May you find favor, and through it may it restore your faith and peace!