Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: Jehovah was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake, a fire: Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire, a soft gentle voice. (1Kings 19:11-12)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Learning From the Life of Hannah: A Woman with Serious Problems {Part 2}

{This is Part 2 in a series on the Life of Hannah.

Last week we set the stage to learn from the life of Hannah as recorded in the book of 1 Samuel.

Before we jump back in to the narrative, we first must understand that God sovereignly governs as we roll back the curtain and see a woman enduring Problems that fill her with Sorrow.

Hannah is a woman who loves the Lord. As women who love the Lord, we are not going to escape problems in this life.

God is God. All things are under His rule and control. He has the right to do all things according to His own good pleasure. That is essentially what sovereign means.

Charles Spurgeon said:

“There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God's sovereignty.”

Hannah’s husband is Elkanah. In the first chapter of 1 Samuel, we read that he takes his wives up to Shiloh to present a sacrifice. They make a feast of the sacrifice, which would indicate that they present a peace offering; an offering of praise and thanksgiving.

Peninnah, Elkanah’s other wife, has a quiver-full to give thanks for, but Hannah remains empty handed. Peninnah provokes Hannah and uses this opportunity to drag Hannah through the wringer year after year.

The obvious love triangle is a heart-wrenching tragedy: Hannah wants what Peninnah has, and Peninnah is jealous of Hannah and wants what Peninnah has.

One has the love of the man and one has the children of the man. Jealousy for the husband’s love drives Peninnah to provoke the one who desires his offspring.

Elkanah loves Hannah even though the Lord has closed her womb and Peninnah grievously provokes Hannah because the Lord has closed her womb.

Hannah is oozing like an open wound that won’t heal, subjected to the tender care from her husband as well as the cruel taunting from his other wife.

Hannah means ‘grace’. Her rival, Peninnah, is understood to mean ‘pearl’, but as you consider the situation, you see that she is a lot more like the grit in the oyster before it becomes a pearl.

As much as Hannah is full of grace, Peninnah is like the grit that irritates and provokes her in her painful problem.

When we are suffering, God uses the aggravating grit around us and pours out his abundant grace on us and a radiant pearl is formed.

Hannah is so heartsick she could not eat of the worthy portion Elkanah gives her. Elkanah attempts to console her, but fails to understand the depths of her grief. In his confusion, he questions (in 1 Samuel 1:8): “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad?”

Well, I think he should have stopped at that, but no, he continues, and he says: “Am I not more to you than ten sons?”

Oh, Elkanah!

I don’ think he quite gets it. The heartache a woman endures when she longs for a child or losses a child is intense. Other women wrestle when they are overwhelmed with an unexpected pregnancy. Ultimately, we realize we really don’t have a whole lot of control over our own wombs.

For years Hannah has lived in a family without the joy of her own children. Month after month, her womb remains empty, while her husband received children from another woman.

Elkanah didn’t understand her loss, her grief, or her suffering. But, perhaps this is the last straw, and she had come to the end of herself.

And this is where God would have us to be: to give up everything. His purpose is to bring us back to himself, to conform us into the image of His Son for His glory and for our good.

We will endure problems that will cause intense sorrow. God will bring us to these places where we are able to rest in the truth that God sovereignly governs over all of life.

{Continue to Part 3 here.}

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