Have you ever read 1 Samuel chapters 1 and 2 from Hannah’s perspective? Though she’s mentioned in those chapters, rarely do we hear this story told with Hannah being the main focus. We discussed some of what we’d learned at our November 22 prayer meeting. When it comes to Hannah, the most commonly known detail is that God answered her prayer for a son. Yet there’s much more to her situation.
In the book “Prayer”, author E.G. White writes that “Hannah had been communing with God.” Closeness with God is what makes Hannah’s prayer life notable. The dictionary defines ‘commune’ like this:
To converse or talk together, usually with profound intensity, intimacy.
Hannah is commonly known for her many years of being childless. In Bible times, childbearing was the main thing for women. To be childless gave the impression that you were marked or perhaps even cursed by the Almighty in some way. Society considered childless women to be even more inferior than they already were. Elkanah, Hannah’s loving husband, also struggled with his marital issue. In a crisis of faith, he took a second wife to have children. This second wife was abusive and unkind towards Hannah.
Because of her closeness with God, Hannah didn’t react as we might expect. She never lashed out or sought revenge against Elkanah, Peninnah or anyone else who hurt her. Instead, she went straight to her God with her pain and trusted Him to fill her heart with peace and soothe her weary soul. She always kept talking to her God throughout the years. Nothing distracted her from His love.
Another place where Hannah’s relationship with God was tested was in the temple. In her desperation to connect with God during a painful moment, Hannah prayed. She prayed from deep within her heart, crying through her agony. Too overwhelmed to speak, she trusted that God could understand her words as she mouthed them. Again, she asked God for a child and included a promise to dedicate him back to God.
The priest, Eli, was disgusted by the behavior he witnessed from Hannah. He did not know or understand her story. He did not know the torment that drove her to the temple that particular day. And he also did not recognize this type of spiritual connectedness. Society had drifted so far from God’s ideal closeness that when Hannah appeared, her actions were misunderstood. Rather than learning about her perspective, the priest assumed the worst.
Even though she was falsely accused by Eli, Hannah remained calm and confident. She knew that her behavior was misinterpreted. She had done nothing wrong that morning, nothing that needed to be defended. She was able to rationally explain that she was praying from a place of pain. And the surprised priest blessed her.
There are times when we’re overwhelmed by the hardships of our lives. Though all our experiences will be different, the one commonality is pain. Life will hurt us. And yes, we might even be attacked in our home and in the church, like Hannah was.
Like Hannah, we can commune with God. If a book was written about your life, wouldn’t you love to read this line: “__(insert your name here)__ had been communing with God”? Just as He gave her the strength to stand with confidence through her hard moments, He does the same for us.
If we’re not close to Him, we will miss out on the assurance that comes from being in His presence.