In the book of 1 Samuel in chapter 1 there is a story of a man, Elkanah, who had two wives, Hannah and Penninah. Well really the main character of our story is Hannah, but Elkanah and Penninah have roles here too. You see Hannah wanted a child, more than anything yet she didn’t have any. Penninah had children. Now first of all a man with two wives is a cesspool for trouble, but for one to have something the other wants the jealousy, bitterness and tension that had to be in the room I bet was unbearable at times. See I know women, and I know a woman’s heart when she wants a child is tender. I am sure that Hannah’s emotions were on edge month after month, year after year, while she watched Penninah conceive, give birth and raise her children. And I am sure it didn’t help that Penninah would provoke all of those emotions in her. (v.5)
But every year this man, Elkanah would take his family, his two wives and children and would go to the city to worship and to sacrifice to the LORD. Elkanah trying to show how much he loved Hannah would give her a double portion of the sacrifice. But to Hannah that didn’t satisfy the grief in her soul over not having a child. Hannah was in a waiting room of sorts.
“So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the LORD, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat.” 1 Samuel 1:7
This verse alone shows us the wait as well as the anguish that Hannah felt over the wait. Waiting can be so hard ya’ll. I get it, I know. Oh how I have been there. We conceived our first child quickly, We tried for two years before we conceived the second. My husband went for four years without a steady income looking for a job. He did side jobs and consulting work for those years, waiting for a job. I’ve waited for a diagnosis for a loved one, that may have only been a few days but it felt like months. I’ve waited for the LORD to have mercy watching my Daddy until he took his last breath. I’ve waited for circumstances and situations to change and to get a breakthrough from the LORD. Waiting can be gut wrenching sometime. And I think sometimes we think that as Christians, we are supposed to put on our happy faces and look stoic and like we have it all together to show we have faith. But that is what I like about this story. I like that Hannah took it to the LORD and she poured herself out.
“After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the LORD. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly.” 1 Samuel 1:9-10
I love that Hannah poured herself out to the LORD because that is where our help comes from when we are in the waiting room. And then Hannah asked Eli to pray for her as well. Eli when he saw her praying with such fervency assumed she was drunk. When he confronted her, Hannah poured her heart out to him too.
“Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” 1 Samuel 1:16
Some translations say “I have poured out my soul before the LORD.” I love that! I can’t tell you how many times I have felt that I poured my soul out before the LORD. I quite remember being told when I was a child once that we were never to question God. That stayed with me for a very long time. And while on one hand, I know that God is sovereign and that His thoughts are loftier than mine, I do think it’s ok to pour your soul out and even to ask why sometimes. Sometimes I get the answer to a why being because I have not done something or that I am still harboring some thing He wants me to give to Him. And sometimes it’s just His sovereignty and His timing. When Hannah poured her heart out to Eli, Eli asked the LORD to grant her prayers.
“Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” 1 Samuel 1:17
The next couple of verses may be my most favorite part of the story.
“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. And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, I have asked for him from the LORD.” 1 Samuel 1:19-20
Yes, I love that the LORD remembered her, again just like Noah, not that He ever forgot her, but this language is here to just show a new action toward her. But I love even more that while Hannah was in anguish and prayed and cried and poured her soul out to God and the next thing she did was worship. Before her prayer was granted, before the LORD remembered her, she worshiped. You see, yes, I think it’s ok to pour your soul out and I think we can even ask how long, and the why of our situations, but I think once we have poured it out, we remember who God is and we worship Him for who He is not what we want Him to do for us. I think that is what Hannah did here. She was sad, she was anxious, she was distressed, but she also knew who her God was and she worshipped.
So go ahead, if you are in a waiting room, get with God and pour it all out. If you want, also find a trusted friend to pour it out to and ask them to pray. But then, turn to Him and worship. He is worthy of our worship! Even in our waiting.