We know the joy and power of prayer, yet the struggle to prioritise prayer is constant and real. The battle to pray can get even tougher when life breaks our hearts and sorrow becomes our daily portion. Can we keep looking to God when tears cloud our eyes from beholding the wonder?
Let’s visit the story of Hannah, the barren woman who found herself praying in deep agony.
“But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb” (1 Samuel 1:5).
Scripture tells us that God had closed Hannah’s womb. If Hannah wanted to, she could have blamed God because her lack of progeny made her life miserable. However, we see that she wasn’t bitter toward the Lord. Her trips to the temple continued and she worshipped God in pain. This tells us that Hannah was at peace with God even though He had taken away what only He can give her.
Peace with God begets peace with others
When our eyes are on God, we will not define God’s goodness based on what He does or doesn’t give us.
“And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. 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 1:6-7).
We often avoid places and people that cause us pain. But not Hannah. Year after year, Peninnah, her husband’s other wife, provoked her to tears whenever they met at the temple. Hannah knew this ugly episode would repeat, but that didn’t keep her away. Back in those days, the house of God wasn’t as easily accessible as it is today. Hannah chose not to avoid her rival and instead continue worshipping at the house of God.
Peace with God begets peace with others. When God is our daily pursuit, people and problems won’t keep us from pursuing God.
“And she vowed a vow and said, ‘O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to Your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head’” (1 Samuel 1:11).
Despite being at peace with God, Hannah was in emotional turmoil. In distress and tears, she prayed wholeheartedly. Her prayer was brief and clear. She acknowledged her pain and pleaded with God to bless her with a son, even though God had closed her womb. We see that Hannah knew the character of God, that He can make the impossible possible. In fact, she prayed so hard that Eli, the temple priest, thought she was drunk. Life was breaking her heart, but she was bleeding hope.
Peace with God and others does not guarantee the absence of heartache; but it keeps us hoping and praying when everything around seems bleak.
He is our hope in the valley and our wonder on the mountaintop
“Then Eli answered, ‘Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to Him.’ And she said, ‘Let your servant find favour in your eyes.’ Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad” (1 Samuel 1:17-18).
“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 1:20).
Hannah’s story is reassuring. Samuel came along. God turned her groan into glory.
But our stories may or may not end the way we had hoped and prayed for. Even so, we can remain confident in God’s ways and timing. Moment by moment, we can persist in prayer, persevere in waiting, cling to His promises, and follow His leading—with the assurance that God will come through, whether He gives or doesn’t give, or even takes away what He gave. He is our hope in the valley and our wonder on the mountaintop.
We don’t follow God because He has promised to give us something tangible and temporary. We follow Him because He has given us Himself, our intangible and eternal treasure.
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