Do you know about Hannah, the woman whose story is told in 1 Samuel 1 of the Bible?
Hannah wanted a child so badly that she prayed, crying inconsolably, until a priest thought she was drunk. At home, her co-wife, Peninnah, taunted her for years, reminding her that the God she served so faithfully had not blessed her with children.
So much was Hannah taunted that she expected it.
She cried so much and lost her appetite but her husband, Elkanah, provided a formidable support system. He gave her larger portions of food, loved her unconditionally despite her lack of children and reassured her that they were enough for each other. With her husband and her God as sources of strength, Hannah eventually ate her food, pulled herself together and quietly went to the sanctuary to pray every day.
Hannah did the work; she did all she could to make her dream come true, understanding the nature of her lack and the kind of miracle it would take to turn the page.
Hannah was honest with God about her desire. She said she felt pain and was frustrated. She told God exactly how she felt and was also clear about what she wanted him to do for her.
Hannah did not retaliate when she was taunted by her co-wife. In her capacity as first wife, she could have made life difficult for Peninnah, but she did not, presumably because she was a virtuous woman.
Hannah asked for help from those around her – one day after praying at the sanctuary, she asked the priest to think well of her and pray for her.
Hannah stayed true to God, worshipping him through her hardships and making him a major promise – to dedicate her child to God for a life of service. When God wiped those painful tears away and gave her a son, she kept that promise.
I have twice come close to praying like Hannah.
When I pursued a relationship doomed right from the start and was played like a fiddle, the inevitable heartache that followed caused me to go to church for an hour at 4pm every work day, to pray and clear my head. It was a much-needed recovery process because I thought I had finished addressing my papa pains when I actually hadn’t even gotten started. So often did I go to that church that the priest and I became friendly enough to share our stories and compare notes. I went to that church until I felt my confidence return. On my last day there, I told the priest that I had learned my lesson and that he could stop worrying. We said we would pray for each other.
When my siblings and I were told that our mother had four days to live, eight months after burying our father, I navigated that horrifying feeling of waiting for someone to die. Through music, I shouted at God and told him to stop hurting me, and through the same music, I told him that I trusted in his plan even though he was hurting me. I still do. Some of these things take a while.
What’s your Hannah story, my dear Ellie?
What’s the one thing you want so badly that you would pray about till someone thought you were drunk? Have you been praying about it, and if not, when are you going to start? Are you asking for help from the people around you and making use of the resources that are readily available to help you return to a place of steadiness?
Are you telling God everything, big or small? He is not a stranger to your troubles. Speak to him honesty, stay in worship, do the work and keep your promises to him, and he will show you just what he is capable of.