There is one story in the bible that I have always struggled with, a story that has made me aware of my faults, and made me want a deeper understanding of God. That is the story of Hannah.
Hannah had a hard life, she was married to a man named Elkinah, but Elkinah had another wife as well, Peninnah.
That for one is something I couldn’t even begin to imagine, there is no way that I would want to share my husband with another woman. And then imagine what it would be like having to live with her, having to see her every single day!
As if that wasn’t enough Hannah was unable to have children, but Elkinah’s other wife was. If Hannah didn’t already have enough to feel resentful about, she did now.
Peninnah wasn’t the kind of woman who would let Hannah quietly mourn the fact that she was unable to have children. Peninnah was jealous that Hannah was the favourite, so she would taunt her, to the point where Hannah was so distraught she was unable to eat.
One day Hannah was praying in the house of the Lord. She was so overcome by the sadness of the situation that the priest in charge thought that she was drunk. Hannah was desperate for child. I’m sure she had the same strong desire many other woman have, but on top of that she faced the pain of watching her rival have children with her husband. As she was praying she made a promise to God, that if she gave her a son, she would give him back to the work of God.
God heard her and God answered her prayer, she had a son, Samuel.
And she kept her promise. Even though she had been desperate for a child, when she finally had one, she gave him away. She gave him to the temple. to be raised there.
I don’t think that’s something that I could have done.
If I had been praying for one thing for years and years and years I don’t think I could let go of it that easily. I think I would hold onto it as tightly as I could.
But Hannah was different.
What God gave her she gave away.
She understood that her child really belonged to God. She was so thankful for him, that the only way she could thank God enough was to hand him back to God.
Even as I am writing this I find that hard to comprehend. I don’t think it’s something I could do. And yet I know that Hannah had an understanding of God that I find so hard to grasp, so hard to understand, and yet more difficult to put into words.
She loved God so much that she was willing to give to him the best thing that she had. The thing that she had be praying and praying for.
She was able to keep her palms wide open, knowing that what God gave to her was really his all along.
I don’t think I really understand what Hannah knew. But I wish I did.
I wish my hands could be as open as hers.
I wish that I had a true understanding of where my blessings came from.
I wish I knew deeply what she knew.