November 6, 2015

1 Samuel 1:1-28

Without question, difficult circumstances can lead to mental anguish. Hannah endured several situations that could trigger depression and/or anxiety, for she suffered from a “crowded marriage” and barrenness.

Many men and women today experience different versions of a “crowded marriage” which can include an adulterous spouse, an ex-wife or ex-husband, a meddling parent-in-law, and even a spouse who chooses work or hobbies over spending time at home. Sometimes this “crowdedness” can come in later years when an aging parent is taken into the home and requires, or demands, constant care.

To add insult to injury, Hannah had no children. Under Jewish tradition, a woman unable to bear children was extremely shameful because God had promised to reward obedience to his law with fruitfulness. Deuteronomy 7:14 states: “Then it shall come about, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers. . . You shall be blessed above all peoples; there will be no male or female barren among you or among your cattle.” Without children, Hannah felt like a failure and it is likely most of the people in her community assumed she must not be “right with God.” Every year a spiteful Peninnah would torment Hannah about her inability to have children to the point that Hannah “wept and would not eat” and felt “oppressed in spirit.”

1 Peter 5:6-7 says, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” Hannah did just that and emerged as one of the greatest examples of what to do when the circumstances of this world become unbearable. She took all of her anxieties to God and was able to tell Eli, the priest, “I have poured out my soul before the Lord.”

I love that Peter includes the phrase “at the proper time.” We all must remember that God’s timing is perfect and it is only through a consistent prayer life that our clocks can ever hope to line up with his.