When it comes to faith, Hannah is one of my heroes. She wasn’t called to leave her home like Abraham, nor was asked to fight a giant or lead a kingdom. Instead, she was a woman in the midst of a struggle who cried out to God and welcomed Him into her pain.
I can only imagine the anguish she felt every day as she looked across the table at the armful of children Peninnah, the other wife of Hanna’s husband, when Hannah’s arms were empty. She longed for a child of her own. And of course her husband didn’t understand.
Not many people understand the weight of unfulfilled dreams. They don’t understand the longing or the burden or the ache or the tears. “Aren’t I not better than ten sons? (1 Samuel 1:8)”
Hannah’s husband meant the words as a comfort, but those words sent her over the edge.
Nothing can fill that gap of a deeply rooted heart-dream.
So she went to the only source where she might find comfort and an answer. She went to the temple of the Lord and feel face down, weeping straight from the depths of her hurting soul. And she prayed. Boy did she pray. She dumped the contents of her heart out on that floor, praying so fervently in her heart that the silent words found their way to her lips. She shared her ache and she prayed for a son. She promised that if God granted her petition, her child would serve the Lord all the days of his life.
The priest, Eli, had been watching her since she came in and he was certain she was drunk because her lips were moving, but he couldn’t hear her voice. So he went to her, condemning her for being drunk in the temple. I’m sure he must have been embarrassed when she turned to him and confessed that she hadn’t been drinking, but pouring her heart out before the Lord. He sent her off with a blessing and hope that God would answer her prayer.
A few years later Hannah was back at the temple, standing before Eli again with a young boy at her side. He was a little timid and she was probably a little weepy that day. The sweet reality that God had indeed given her a son and the sadness of parting from him so that he could do as she promised mixed in a bittersweet way.
The boy’s name was Samuel.
His story and the faith of his mother have always intrigued me. Hannah hurt so much and she went to the Lord for comfort. She trusted Him, even committing that one thing she longed for back to God. She would keep Samuel only a couple of years before giving him away. There’s no doubt in my mind or heart that it must have been difficult for her, but she did it. She left Samuel at the temple, visiting him every year and bringing him a new robe. She rested in God’s faithfulness; and in her own faithfulness in keeping her vow she was blessed with more children, babies she hadn’t asked for.
I’m not entirely sure why the stories of these two have stood out to me this week. I was honestly ready to write this blog about a week ago, explaining how wonderful things were and that I finally figured out this whole contentment thing. God’s been doing some crazy things lately related to some of those heart dreams. But He’s also been challenging me. Maybe that’s where Hannah’s story comes in–her resting faith and willingness to give up the very thing she longed for.
That’s a hard thought because obviously the fear is there that if I give up then I obviously won’t get it because I’m not working to get it.
Lies. Big fat lies.
Because the kinds of things I’m hoping for, the things Hannah was praying for–those deep heart longings that seem utterly impossible in the moment–only God can deliver those. There is nothing we can do to make it happen. Hannah was barren. She wasn’t able to have children. Until God made it happen.
We try so hard, don’t we? We work and strive and do. It’s so hard for us to give up and let go. We don’t want to lose out. We don’t want to miss an opportunity. We think it all depends on us.
The very God who spun the universe into being can spin a desire into a reality. We just need to jump out of the driver’s seat and stop trying so hard. Because despite what we think, we can’t make it happen. If this comes about, it will be a God-thing. And even then, we can’t cling to it. Hannah let go. She received her heart’s desire and offered it back to God. I want to do that. I want to have enough faith in God, to trust Him with my heart, to lay this at His feet. I want to have the kind of faith that rests in Him–the kind of faith that doesn’t feel like I have to earn it or make it happen all on my own. I want the kind of faith that will just cuddle up next to Jesus and trust Him to work it all out.
Because He will.
Rest in His love, dear heart. Trust His timing and His ways. And when it finally comes about, that thing you’ve been waiting for, offer it back to Him. Because no person or thing or promise fulfilled could ever fill you up like Jesus can.
Rest in Him!
Live in His love!