Have you ever prayed a prayer out of desperation? Perhaps you felt that God had forgotten you. Well, this is the story of Hannah, a woman who prayed desperate prayers. God heard and answered, but not quite how you would think.
Hannah was one of two wives married to Elkanah, from a region near Shiloh. The other wife, Peninnah, had many children and she often taunted Hannah because Hannah could not conceive.
Hannah's heart was grieved. She desperately wanted a child to call her own. Her arms ached from emptiness. Year after year the whole family would go and sacrifice to the Lord. On the day that Elkanah made his sacrifice, he would then give portions of meat to his family to eat, but to Hannah he would give a double portion "because he loved her, and the LORD had closed her womb (1 Samuel 1:5)."
It's probably safe to say that Elkanah sensed Hannah's pain but he couldn't completely understand it. Someone who has not walked in those shoes cannot resonate with the deep, gut punch that unanswered prayer does to a person. Especially when it comes to a woman with a closed womb.
Years went by. More taunting. Exceeding emptiness and despair.
Hannah had become discouraged to the point of a lack of appetite and continuous tears. Life was just not fair. What had she done to be dealt such a bitter blow?
Elkanah tried to console her. "Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don't you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don't I mean more to you than ten sons (v.8)."
Bless his heart. That's what we southern-Missourians say when someone is completely clueless.
In verse 9 we are told that after everyone had finished eating and drinking, Hannah stood up. What is the significance about that?
She was done. Not with just the meal, but with everything. She resolved to petition God once more. She wanted a resolution. She needed answers.
In bitterness of soul, Hannah goes into the tabernacle area and begins to pray and weep before the Lord. She addresses Him as the "LORD of the Mighty Armies." Hannah was ready to do battle and call upon the One who could put her enemies to shame; the One who could take up arms and fight this battle on her behalf.
She makes a petition to God: If You give me a child, I will give him back to You.
This was a tall order. She was saying to God that if He would bless her with a baby, that baby would not be raised in her care. That child would be given back as an offering to God's faithfulness. In her blessed receiving, she would be giving up the very thing she so desired, but in return, she knew she would receive even greater blessings.
We can never outgive God. What we give back to Him never leaves us empty handed. No. God always blesses our obedience and sacrifice with even greater gain.
The priest, Eli, thought Hannah was drunk. Her lips were moving but no sound coming forth. Hannah assured the priest that she was simply a woman pouring out her soul to the Lord.
"Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him (v.17)."
The Bible then tells us that Hannah got up, probably washed her face, ate a little something, and felt a resolve in her soul. That's what happens when we drop our burdens at the feet of Jesus. He comes and fills us with His peace. He lifts those heavy bags and frees us out from under their weight. He assures us that we are His and that He has the answers to unfold in . His . time.
Scripture says that "in the course of time" Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son, Samuel. It wasn't the next week. It didn't happen six months from then. It happened at just the right time, in just the right way, at just the moment the words, Let It Be So, tumbled off the tongue of God.
And that little answer to prayer...? Well, he was given back to God after he had been weaned. He was raised by Eli in the tabernacle to be a God-fearing prophet who would anoint both King Saul and King David. He would be a mighty man...in time.
What or who are you waiting on? Is it a child? Is it an answer? Is it a career change? Is it a spouse? Listen, God knows. He sees your tears. He has the solutions but they won't come about until it is His time.
Still, friend, go wash your face. Stand up. Be resolved. God is the Lord of Mighty Armies. He's got this. He will fight for you. <3