Today, we conclude our series, “When You’re Waiting on God,” with the story of Hannah.
Hannah was a girl well-acquainted with waiting. Her experience led her through times of discouragement and depression, but she never lost hope. Hannah’s story is often told to illustrate the power of prayer, but when we dig in a little deeper we can also learn a few lessons about waiting.
Let’s Begin with a Little Background.
Hannah was married to Elkanah. Elkanah had two wives – Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not. Hannah longed for children, but was unable to conceive. Peninnah would often poke fun at and taunt Hannah because of her barrenness. As a result, Hannah experienced deep emptiness and sorrow.
Each year, Elkanah would take his family to Shiloh to make sacrifices at the Tabernacle. This trip was painful for Hannah, as she watched Peninnah and her children interact with one another. On one particular occasion the family was eating a sacrificial meal when Hannah got up from the table and went to pray. In deep anguish, Hannah cried out to the Lord,
“O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if You will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to You. He will be Yours for his entire lifetime…” 1 Samuel 1:11
As Hannah was praying Eli, a priest in the tabernacle, stood nearby. Eli saw Hannah’s lips moving, but did not hear her speaking. He concluded she must have been drinking and reprimanded her. But Hannah replied,
“Oh no, sir! I haven’t been drinking… but I am very discouraged, and I was pouring my heart out to the Lord…for I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.” 1 Samuel 1:15-16
After hearing her heart, Eli said, “Go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.”
With joy, Hannah exclaimed her thanksgiving and returned to the meal where she began eating and was no longer sad.
Learning from Hannah’s Prayer.
First, Hannah made a commitment to give her son back to God if He would answer her prayer. Anytime we are waiting on God doubt and discouragement will try to creep in and tempt us to believe God is not going act. In reality, God sees everything and is in complete control. Instead of following falling victim to these feelings, we can commit to professing God’s sovereignty over the whole earth and remain steadfast in our belief that He is indeed for us and not against us.
Second, just as Eli misunderstood Hannah’s deep anguish when she was praying, so also we may be misunderstood in our circumstance. In these times, it’s vital to remember God’s sovereignty and determine to stay glorify Him regardless of what happens.
Third, Hannah didn’t let Eli’s comment cause her to withdraw or fret, instead she responded with the truth and received Eli’s blessing. As a result, she was able to return to the meal joyfully and begin eating. Sorrow no longer had a grip on her. Hannah’s example encourages us to choose joy over defeat when we are waiting. God’s desire is for us to live joyfully and with confidently in Him regardless of our circumstances.
When Faith Leads to Fruitfulness
Years later, Hannah returned to the Tabernacle to give praise to the Lord for giving her a son. Her commitment to God and persistence in prayer while waiting ultimately resulted in significant fruitfulness. Hannah was eventually blessed with not just one, but six children.
Friend, if you are in a season of waiting, I pray Hannah’s story encourages you to profess God’s sovereignty over all the earth while persisting in prayer. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5)