“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.” 1 Samuel 1:6-7
Hannah’s story pierces to the core of what it means to be faithful to God in the midst of loss.
Hannah’s husband had a 2nd wife, named Peninnah. This lady had children, and would cruelly taunt Hannah over the fact that she could have no children. But the above 2 verses grabbed my attention because their words echo the lies of a much older enemy…
“Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
Does anyone else find it intriguing that Scripture mentions Hannah was provoked as often as she went up to the house of the Lord?
We all have an adversary who would like nothing better than to keep us from running to God in our pain. The devil seeks to destroy our delight in prayer and worshiping God. And sometimes he uses our great loss to try to provoke us when we want to draw near to God.
Can you hear the taunt in Peninnah’s voice? “The Lord has closed your womb, Hannah. Who are you to even bother coming back to the house of the Lord?”
Oh, my heart bleeds as I write this, because this lie- that we should stop running to God because we experience pain or do not yet see the answer to our prayer, is so deadly and contrary to God’s Love and the truth in the Bible. God willingly died to reconcile us back to Himself. Romans 8:31-34, Romans 5:8 And in running to Him, we can count ourselves in good company with men and women from the Bible who faithfully trusted God in the midst of the pain they endured- Paul, Daniel, Joseph, Peter, Ruth, Abigail… the list goes on.
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16
But how many of us, holding deep hurt in our hands, think about reading the Bible or worshiping Jesus, and hear that lie- “God didn’t answer your prayer in the past. Why bother going to Him again?”
Sisters- can we wake up to realize that this is a lie straight from hell? It is meant to keep us from our only true source of hope and comfort in the midst of pain and loss! May we cry out to God to help us draw a line in the sand and refuse to let our enemy triumph over us in this regard!
A truth I have been using lately to fight this lie comes from Jesus’ prayer for everyone who would believe in Him: “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:26
Jesus says He will continue to help me know the God of the universe, so that the same love that God has for Jesus (which is the essence and fullness of perfect Love and unity, being the Triune God from eternity past) will be in me. That’s a lot of love, living in us and poured out for us who are God’s children. I can run to God because I know He loves me unfathomably more than I can comprehend.
The Bible says that Hannah was deeply distressed, wept bitterly, and would not eat. The depth of Hannah’s pain is not minimized or dismissed. But after they ate, she got up and went to the house of the Lord to pray. (1 Samuel 1:9) She refused to let her adversary keep her from going to God.
So the crux of the question of faith is this- in the midst of our loss, who will we listen to? If we find ourselves disheartened about drawing near to God, perhaps it’s because we are listening too much to the wrong voice.
May we instead listen to Jesus who earnestly and lovingly calls to us- “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:10-11