I've been reading lately from the book of 1 Samuel. The story of Hannah has been calling to me for a few weeks, and I've read it over and over. One of the books I was reading referenced Hannah's story, and I felt compelled to read it. Although I've heard the story a million times before, it struck me differently at this stage in my life.
The Bible says that God had closed Hannah's womb. While she was unable to have children, her husband's other wife, Peninnah gave their husband several sons and daughters. The Bible tells us that Peninnah taunted and provoked Hannah about not having children. To the point that Hannah would be reduced to tears and refuse to eat.
I had to put myself in Hannah's shoes for a minute, not only is she struggling with her own infertility, but she's also being made fun of and taunted for it by the "other woman". Infertility hurts....it's hurts every time you think about it, it hurts every time you see a pregnant woman or a tiny new baby, it hurts when people mean to help but say the wrong thing, it just hurts. To add to the top of that hurt the fact that someone else is mocking you for it would be devastating! How awful!
Hannah became so upset on one of their yearly trips, that as she got up and went to pray in the tabernacle. While there, the Bible says "Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord." The priest saw her so upset and thought that she must be drunk! That must have been some pretty devastating weeping and sobbing!! Hannah cried out to God and said that if He would bless her with a son, she would give him back to God for his entire life.
Now, originally I was thinking that Hannah meant she would dedicate him to God. (You know like in one of those nice little ceremonies when the preacher prays over the baby and says some nice things and then GIVES the baby back??) Nope, that's not at all what Hannah meant! She really meant that she would give him to God for his whole life. If you read on, you can see what a great sacrifice this must have been for a mother that had longed for many years for a child.
The Bible says that Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son whom she named Samuel. Then Hannah said to her husband, "Wait until the boy is weaned, then I will take him to the Tabernacle and leave him with the Lord permanently." Wait a minute....WHAT?? Permanently?
And that's exactly what Hannah did, she took him and left him in service to the Lord. The Bible even tells us how often she saw her son. It says that every year when they returned to offer their sacrifice she brought him a gift. She saw her son, whom she had longed and prayed for, one time each year! After leaving him, Hannah sings a song of praise to the Lord. It's really quite beautiful, and you should read it if you have a chance (1 Samuel 2). Here's just a sample...
"My heart rejoices in Lord,
The Lord has made me strong.
Now I have an answer for my enemies;
I rejoice because you have rescued me."
Isn't Hannah an amazing woman of God? I've been so challenged be her in the last month or so. Hannah loved God and prayed to Him throughout her infertility. She didn't give up on the Lord, and He didn't forget her. And after receiving her blessing, Hannah remained true to her word and gave her son to God. I'm not sure that I could do that, could you? Do you trust God enough to give Him back the blessings He's given you?
By the way, because of their faithfulness, God blessed Hannah and Elkanah with 5 more children!