Have you ever cried over something so much that you run out of tears? Your swollen eyes just give out and dry up while a current of unrest still gushes through your soul. And you look up toward heaven in utter frustration.
And there’s someone else in the Bible who was right there as well.
She felt provoked and irritated. Her anguish was so intense that she wept and would not eat. Before the Lord, she cried out in bitterness of soul, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant . . . then I will . . .” (1 Samuel 1:11).
These words describe and articulate the deep distress of a woman from thousands of years ago, and yet here I sit in modern times and I relate so completely. They are from the woman named Hannah found in 1 Samuel 1.
Hannah’s tears over her empty womb were made even more painful by her husband’s other wife, Peninnah. She had many sons and daughters and made sure to rub this fact in Hannah’s face every chance she got.
There’s a common thread that weaves through Hannah’s story, and yours and mine. We can all be found desperately wanting something that we see the Lord giving to other women. We see Him blessing them in the very areas He’s withholding from us. We look at them, and we feel set aside.
Why them? Why not me?
Then the seemingly unjust silence from God ushers us from a disturbed heart to weeping with bitterness of soul. And we start to feel something deep inside that comes in conflict with everything we hold true. If God is good, why isn’t He being good to me in this?
And in this moment of raw soul honesty, we’re forced to admit we feel a bit suspicious of God. We’ve done all we know to do. We’ve prayed all we know to pray. We’ve stood on countless promises with a brave face. And still nothing.
So what do we do when we feel set aside? What do we do when our heart is struggling to make peace between God’s ability to change hard things and His apparent decision not to change them for us?
We do what Hannah did. We keep pressing in.
Instead of taking matters into her own hands, Hannah took her requests to God. Instead of pulling away from Him in suspicion, she pressed in ever closer, filling the space of her wait with prayer.
Oh, how I love her unflinching faith. Where her barrenness and her mistreatment by Penninah could have caused Hannah to completely lose heart, she refused to be deterred from trusting in God. She possessed a faith that was not contingent upon her circumstances but based on what she knew to be true about her good and faithful God. A faith that led her to pray with so much passion and boldness in the tabernacle that Eli, the high priest, accused her of being drunk! (1 Samuel 1:13-14)
And in a matter of four verses (17–20), her cries of anguish gave way to the cries of her newborn son. Of course, 1 Samuel 1:20 uses very clear words to let us know Hannah’s answer didn’t come right away: “So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son” (emphasis added).
Samuel was born in God’s perfect timing. And the timing of his birth was imperative because Samuel was destined to play an integral role in the transition from the time of the judges to the eventual establishment of kingship for the Israelites.
God hadn’t made Hannah wait to punish her. He hadn’t been callous or indifferent to her cries. And He’s not ignoring those of us waiting either.
God loves us too much to answer our prayers at any other time than the right time.
Are you or a friend dealing with that kind of a situation where you’re trusting God for something “in the course of time?” We know how incredibly hard that can be. That’s why Proverbs 31 Ministries is offering these hammered pendant necklaces with the phrase “See With My Heart” written in braille. They are a beautiful reminder to trust God even when you don’t understand His timing.
When we can’t see what God is doing with our physical eyes, we can choose to see with the eyes of our heart. We can touch the braille on this necklace and trust like Hannah did that in the course of time everything will work out according to God’s perfect plan.
I have been learning over the past few years that God’s timing is perfect. I am so inspired by Hannah’s story and her true faith!
Messages on this subject always grab my heart, as I’ve been waiting for 4 years for our Prodogal Son to return, praying, crying out to God, for restoration in our family. The saddest part is that he’s a Chaplin in the military, with degrees in Christian counseling, so he knows well that he’s not honoring his father and mother. Yet pride and stubbornness keeps him away, denying us contact with him, his wife and four children. We’ve reached out many times pleading with him to reconcile, to no avail. We’ll keep praying, believing, waiting for God’s timing.
Prayers sent to you.
I get so discouraged. Because I prayed for years to have a child and I believed it would happen. My husband and I trusted God and waited…believing. Now my husband has died suddenly from a brain aneurysm and I am all alone. No husband and no children. I am 58 years old and don’t understand. Please address women without children to know that it is not always in God’s plan. Most devotionals address praying and believing and it will happen. But it doesn’t always and it’s hard to understand.
I pray that you will find some kind of peace through this terrible tragedy. I have prayed myself to strengthen my marriage only to have my husband leave and divorce. I don’t understand it. I’ll be honest, I got very bitter. It’s been ten years, and I’ve asked God for forgiveness for walking away from my faith, but I’m still pained by the end of my marriage. I wish you strength and peace. You’ll never forget, but it will get easier..
Thank you so much for being so honest, vulnerable, and an encouragement for all that have unanswered prayers. I find you an inspiration! I know too many people that reject God when their prayers are not answered they way they thought they should be. My father-in-law years ago was persuaded to quit taking his insulin because if he just had enough faith God would heal him! He ended up in a diabetic coma in the hospital. He really believed God would heal him but God chose not too for whatever reason. He gave up the “name it and claim it” theology but he did not give up his faith. He knew that God was still good! And God loved him! I understand his situation is so much different from yours but the same principles apply I think. I admire you for clinging to your faith! Jesus is the ultimate example of a prayer not being answered the way he wanted it to. He cried out to His heavenly Father, “Remove this cup from me! But your will be done.” (My paraphrase) I don’t know what God’s plans are for you as a single woman but he does have plans for you and they are good! I will be praying for you!
P.S. Janette Oke has a series of 4 books about the Canadian West that are very good light reading I think. The main character is unable to have children. I honestly thought the series would end with her finally having that baby she so badly wanted (and prayed for) but much to my shock (and to Janette Oke’s credit) at the end of the last book there is no baby and no hope is given that there ever will be. In spite of this this woman has found peace and purpose. God Bless you in whatever He has for you!
I am reading these because I’m dealing with big disappointments of my own and a friend sent this to me. I just wanted to tell you that I recently heard about a 60 year old woman with no husband or children, that then started a desperately needed foster home. Much to her surprise (but not God’s) these children filled that need and emptiness in her. Something she thought could only be filled with her own child, is filled with those other children. Not what she wanted or asked for, yet God needed a caretaker for these other children. Think of the lives she has changed. There’s a plan, that will fulfill your heart, you just have to tell God you are willing. I prayed for you.
Our late pastor often told us that our Father in Heaven has 3 answers: “YES”, “NO”, or “I HAVE A BETTER IDEA.” This helps me put my life in a better perspective. God is God and I’m so glad I’m not! I’d mess me up (& others) for sure!
May God our Father in Heaven be in your day! sgk
I have read some of your books enjoyed them very well and u have a way to have your readers understand i really like the book what happens when women says yes to god thanks
I am in despair facing infertility. Everyone and everything is telling me to give up on a baby. I can’t do that or move forward. And suddenly, for the first time, I am profoundly doubting God’s very existence and frightened as a result. I will read more about Hannah. Thank you for your post and thank you for being there.
Maria, I am in the same boat. Three miscarriages followed by inability to conceive. This is the greatest challenge to my faith that I’ve ever experienced. I believe in God’s existence (the created world is testimony enough for that), and I want to believe that he is good and loving, but I can’t help feeling that He forgot about me or that I was a mistake and there was never any plan for me. And “frightened” is exactly the word to describe it. Just know you’re not alone.
I just read this in your book, Uninvited, which I picked up in late October, and still cannot get through because every single page . . . every little detail . . . I need to meditate on and allow the Holy Spirit to do a good work in me. The Abundant Conference two weeks ago in Cordova has provided another way of tenderly providing Truth to my hurts. Thank YOU for being so vulnerable with your health crisis and how you KNOW that you are set apart for His glory. Praising Him for you, my beautiful sister.
Posts seem more sincere when you’re not selling a trinket at the end. : )
Thank you for this blog. I am in the middle of a 6 1/2 year trial. I have prayed, read, done my devotions to stay close to God. Recently I have given in to the enemy’s voice, telling me that God doesn’t love me or care enough to listen to my prayers to take me out of my situation. The jealousy I have for my friends that are being blessed abundantly has contributed to the feeling of abandonment. I am going to keep Hannah’s story close to my heart. God bless.
I am waiting on God to help me overcome my eating disorder. I have been praying about this for over 42 years. I know that his timing is the perfect timing. I don’t always understand why it has gone on for this long, but I continue to pray about it and press in to God. It breaks my heart to think that I am being disobedient to my God whom I love and cherish with my whole heart and being. I want nothing more than to live for God and to please him. I will keep praying and crying out to him for help. Lord, there is none like you.
This is my first time reading your blog. I really enjoyed your story about Hannah. I’ve been waiting on the Lord to answer my prayers as well, but I Won’t Give Up! The Holy Ghost that lives in me won’t let me give up, even though I want to some times. The devil trys to discourage me by whispering it won’t happen, but The Devil Is A LIAR. Ladies, Don’t Give Up or Give Out. Repent for your Sins Daily (we all have sinned & fallen short), but know that God is a Forgiving God. Remember, God’s Time Is Not Our Time. I pray that God will give each and everyone of you who is reading this comment right now, the STRENGTH to hold on to God’s Unchanging Hand.
This was me…yesterday.
Just finished reading Uninvited. Loved the book and this Godly lady who wrote it! This is a section from that book and it really spoke to me. It has helped me so much to deal with the estrangement of my adult son. Similar to Beverly Jones comment, my son knows better but has chosen to step away. His estrangement is also keeping me separated from my daughter-in-law and my 3 grandchildren. I keep praying and trusting God that “in due time” God will restore our relationship. In my time of grief I try to remember that I have not been set aside but I have been set apart so that God can do a work in my life.
Hi! My husband of 29 years cheated on me and has a child with that person. He stopped seeing her back in 2010 but he has changed so much. He has turned away from me, it feels like I’m living with a stranger than the man I married. I have prayed and cried so much that I don’t know anymore what to do. I want to have faith, but many times I’ve felt that God has forgotten me. I blame myself for that because I feel that I chose this man as my husband without God’s consent. So if anyone feels forgotten by the Lord, I know how you feel. I haven’t turned away from God, I still pray everyday for courage, tolerance, strength, and wisdom. I was born in Christianity, but I have done so many mistakes I feel I’m being punished. But in all the years I have gone to church I don’t remember hearing about God’s timing. Thank you so much for this blog. Well that’s what I’m going to do, give God time. He is the only one that knows what’s in this man’s head. He(God) knows what’s going to happen to this, my, marriage and I’m just going to give God and my husband time to figure out what he(my husband) wants and what God wants.
Thank you again.