Read His Words Before Ours!
Do you remember begging for a certain gift as a child?
What was it like when you received it?
Were you disappointed or was it exactly as you imagined?
What about now?
Is there something you desire more than anything?
Something you’re waiting for God to deliver?
When I’m feeling disappointed about unfulfilled desires, I think of Hannah.
Hannah was married to Elkanah, husband of two wives.
Peninnah, the other wife, had plenty of children, but Hannah, shamefully, was barren.
Adding to her heavy shame, Peninnah provoked Hannah, mocking her empty womb.
Oh, that hits your gut doesn’t it?!
Have you been in her shoes?
Maybe you’re Hannah with the ache, marked by shame, carrying shards of broken dreams,
dragging around lost hope.
Or perhaps you’ve worn Peninnah’s shoes a few times too, provoking just to stir up trouble, finding a sense of satisfaction in what you have instead of another’s “have nots”.
Each year the family traveled to Jerusalem for worship.
This particular year Hannah was so distressed, she refused food.
I see much of myself in Hannah.
I too have carried shame and broken dreams, losing hope along the way.
I too have had a “Peninnah” in my life, so distressed I hurt.
Hannah responded as each of us should, she worshipped through prayer.
Broken, empty, hungry, and weeping Hannah entered the temple, and bowed before the One True God
and worshipped. (1 Samuel 1:10)
Hannah opened her heart to her God, praying God would remove her shame and fulfill her dreams.
She asked God for a son, promising to relinquish him back to God for service in the temple his entire life.
Eli, the priest, saw her, was moved by her worship, and spoke the Lord’s word to her,
she would have a son!
Some time later, Hannah held her fulfilled promise in her arms, naming him Samuel, meaning “God Has Heard.”
No longer marked by shame and lost dreams, Hannah held the little boy hand of her dream-come-true, entrusting him to the Lord as she left him at the temple to serve the Lord.
Later, her dream son, given back in worship to the Lord, would become a wise judge and humble prophet, mighty in spirit, leading Israel.
Happily Ever After.
No, Hannah’s story does not stop here.
I’ll be honest, I usually stop here.
But if we close the book in chapter 1, we miss the pinnacle of Hannah’s heart in chapter 2.
We miss her worship.
Hannah continued a hymn of worship that had been her relentless song from the moment she first cried out to her God.
In verse one, Hannah rejoiced in God.
She did not rejoice in Samuel.
She rejoiced in the Giver, not the gift.
In fact, in all of Hannah’s prayer, she didn’t specifically name Samuel even once,
instead she focused on the character of the God who had heard her.
Hannah rejoices in her “horn.”
Just as the horn of a bull signifies its strength, Hannah declared that the Lord had removed her disgrace and weakness, replacing it with His own mighty strength.
Was Hannah strengthened because she could prove her value to Peninnah?
No, her strength was God.
Speaking of Peninnah, is she even mentioned?
No, because Hannah didn’t need to.
She didn’t carry bitterness and slander because worship had shifted her focus.
I wonder if we let worship shift our hearts as well?
In the midst of everyday life, will we relentlessly worship or relentlessly slander and self-focus, eager to return hurt for hurt, carrying the burdens of bitterness and un-forgiveness.
Hannah’s example proves we can’t worship and grudge-carry.
Verse 5 of Hannah’s song declares, “Those who are hungry have ceased to hunger.”
God was Hannah’s sole supplier.
This wasn’t about physical food, Hannah was hungry for relief.
She was hungry for her shame to be lifted and her emptiness to be filled.
What are you hungry for?
We know the ending of Hannah’s story.
We know she was freed from shame and filled with the Lord Himself.
We don’t know our story’s end.
We ask, will I ever be delivered?
Will I always be empty?
“Because of the Lord’s faithful love
we do not perish,
for His mercies never end.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness!
I say, “The Lord is my portion,
therefore I will put my hope in him.”
Hannah wasn’t faithful to God because He was faithful to her;
she chose relentless worship before He answered her prayer.
Hannah prayed for years.
She worshipped for years.
Yet, she didn’t give up.
We may not receive exactly what we desire or when we desire it,
but our faithful God will deliver, free, fill us.
Until then, we relentlessly worship!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!