In Barren TimesMay 10, 2019 - 12:00 am
Eli answered [Hannah], “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” She said, “May your servant find favour in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast. — 1 Samuel 1:17
This month, Israel honoured its fallen soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice in securing and protecting God’s Holy Land, and celebrated its 71st anniversary as the modern Jewish State. Join us as we explore through the timeless teachings of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein how God has watched over His land and His people since biblical times.
For anyone who has faced the heartbreak of repeated disappointment — whether it’s an inability to have children, to find employment, or to foster a lasting relationship — the story of Hannah provides a much-needed balm.
Hannah, as you may remember, was barren, unable to conceive — a condition that was considered a curse in ancient Israel. Added to her shame was the fact that her husband took another wife, as was the custom, who made life miserable for Hannah by taunting and insulting her. Even when Hannah, in absolute desperation, prayed fervently to God for a son, the priest, Eli, mistakenly thought she was drunk!
Hannah had more than enough reasons to be discouraged and to give up. But that’s not what Hannah did. Instead, she brought her problem honestly before God and prayed that He would “look on your servant’s misery and remember me and not forget your servant but give her a son” (v. 11). In return for His favour, Hannah vowed to dedicate her son in lifelong service to God.
After pouring out her heart to God and receiving encouragement from Eli that God would grant her request, Hannah was able to leave in peace, entrusting her problem with God and having faith that He would answer her prayer in His timing and according to His plan.
To Hannah’s credit, when she at last gave birth to a son, she remembered her vow to God, and at the proper time, brought her beloved son, Samuel, to serve with Eli as a priest. She did so, as the Bible tells us, joyfully because Hannah knew that this gift of a son was given to her from God and she was returning him to God for His purposes.
During those barren times in our lives, when nothing positive seems to be happening in our work, our relationships, or our service, we can feel that our prayers are unanswered and our faith ineffectual. But, as Hannah discovered, continued prayer opened the door for God to work.
And as Hannah waited in faith and trusted God, she was rewarded. Hannah had supreme confidence in God’s sovereignty and thankfulness for everything he had done. Indeed, her beautiful response is recorded for us in 1 Samuel 2: 1–10.
Let Hannah’s story encourage you in facing the disappointments and the trials of this life. Rejoice in what God has done for you already, be thankful for all He has given you, and have confidence that our sovereign God is in control.