Hannah was the wife of Elkanah, but she was not the only wife. Peninnah was also married to Elkanah, and Penninah had sons and daughters. Hannah was loved by Elkanah, but she was unable to have children, something that was looked on as a curse in that day. 1 Sam. 1:6 says, "And her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb." This was a very difficult time in Hannah's life. Every year the family went to worship at the temple at Shiloh, and every year Hannah was so grieved, and refused to eat. Hannah's life portrays the Christian life, as we go through the difficult times and trials that come our way. She was trusting God, and praying, and yet there seemed to be no answer. She not only dealt with the fact that she couldn't have children, but she also had to deal with the pain of unanswered prayer. She was in bitterness of soul, and cried out in anguish to the Lord. She promised the Lord that if He would give her a son, that she would give him back to the Lord. Eli saw her lips moving, and thought she was drunk. Hannah replied that she had poured out her soul before the Lord, with her complaint and her grief. Eli's word to her was this, "Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him." Hannah said, "Let your maidservant find favor in your sight." Hannah went her way, and ate, and her face was no longer sad. Hannah received her answer that day. She knew she had received from the Lord. The peace of God filled her heart and mind. She knew she had received favor. Her answer was on its way. Shortly after, she conceived, and when the child was born, she called him Samuel. The word Samuel means "heard by God." Now her grief and bitterness and anguish was turned into joy. God doesn't waste your pain. He will turn your sorrow into joy. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. God will work all things together for good, for those who love God. Every time Hannah called Samuel's name, she was reminded that she had been heard by God. We too are heard by God. Even when prayer is seemingly unanswered, we can be assured that we have been heard by God. We can take courage from Samuel, that God hears us when we pray, and that we can trust Him through the pain and the grief.
How do you respond to seemingly unanswered prayer?
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