1 Samuel 1:4-20
The story begins by introducing us to the main players and the main issue in this drama. A man named Elkanah had two wives. One named Hannah and another named Peninnah. Peninnah had children and Hannah did not have any. When one had children that one was considered to be especially blessed of God. Peninnah had children. Peninnah was considered blessed. Peninnah had taken children to Elkanah. The smile on ElkanahÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s face was very great because of these the children. Elkanah loved his children and Peninnah loved her children. When you looked at the children you saw a little of Peninnah and you saw a little of Elkanah. Perhaps folks came up and told his son he looked just like Elkanah. Perhaps folks said you are a chip off the old block. Your mother must be very proud of you.
One woman had children, and having children in that society and most societies is considered a blessing. But also during that time if you did not have children you were considered not as blessed. As folks would talk about the children of Peninnah they acted like they did not see Hannah. They looked the other way. Or some folks tried to compensate for her lack of children by talking about something else. They might say, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh but you cook so well Hannah.Ã¢â‚¬Â Trying to compensate often makes things worse. For deep in their minds they really thought that when you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have children you were not really good enough. They thought, when you didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have children you had done something wrong. Perhaps they didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to think it, but they also thought, When you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have children God is angry with you. When you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have children it is proof that Peninnah is a better wife then Hannah. When you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have children it is proof that Hannah was not blessed.
The Bible says that Elkanah was a religious man and so Elkanah brought Peninnah and Hannah to come to the temple to the sacrifice to YAHWEH. This year he came and gave Penninah and all the sons and daughters portions to offer. And Elkanah who specially loved Hannah gave her a double portion. Looked out for her. He loved her and showed favoritism to her. He did this partly because he loved her more and partly because she was being stung by the fact that she was childless.
But it is interesting that the first time we are told that the LORD shut up the womb of Hannah is when she went to the temple. Sometimes we go to church and we do not feel better. Sometimes we go to church and the church reminds us of our separation from God. Sometimes we go to church and the church reminds us that we think God has shut up our womb. We think that God is withholding something from us that God should be giving us. The church reminds us that we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have what others have. Hannah looked over and saw the offerings that all the children of Peninnah offered. While Hannah received a double portion, that double portion could not replace the feeling of alienation from God she felt. That double portion could not replace that feeling that God is not doing what God should do. That double portion could not replace the feeling that maybe I am not as good as Peninnah. Maybe society is right. Maybe I broke some commandment but I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know what it is. Maybe I did something that will cause God to keep from me what I desperately want and need.
And then the despair and pain continues for Penniah is referred to as HannahÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s adversary in this scripture. Penniah provokes her. PenniahÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s provocation is to the point that the Bible says that the provoking was Ã¢â‚¬Å“soreÃ¢â‚¬Â the provoking was deep. PenniahÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s objective was to make Hannah fret. PenniahÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s objective was to make Hannah feel bad. Hannah already was feeling down by herself, but here is somebody making it worse. Somebody knows about the ones who know when to show up to make a bad situation that you thought was as bad as it could be get worse.
Penniah was using her blessing against Hannah. But before we get to hard on Penniah we also must recognize that Elkanah did not love her as much as Hannah. Penniah may have been trying to buy the love of her husband by the children and found that even that did not work. Penniah was in a bad situation. Hannah was in a bad situation. Here are two women placed in a difficult situation and a difficult undertaking. Penniah lashes out at the only one she can lash out at. Penniah makes all of the pain that Hannah felt even worse. We must take this as an example. Sometimes we may lash out at others when the real problem we feel is with someone else. PenniahÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s problem was with Elkanah who loved Hannah more. PenniahÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s problem was with a society that allowed men to marry many wives and thus make adversaries out of the wives. PenniahÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s problem was not Hannah, but Penniah made Hannah the problem.
And here the scripture repeats the phrase the Ã¢â‚¬Å“Lord Shut Up Her WombÃ¢â‚¬Â Anger at Penniah cannot make Hannah forget that it seems to be God who is doing this to her. Penniah is an annoyance, but it is God who is shutting up the womb. Penniah may make you mad, but why doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t God do something? Hannah is in the painful situation. Society is looking down on her, Penniah is constantly reminding her of her inadequacies, AND God shut up her womb because the Bible says that Hannah was childless.Ã¢â‚¬Â
It got so bad that Hannah stopped eating. She just cried. She was hurt. She did not know what to do. Everyone is against her. Even God seemed against her and she cries. Sometimes you get to the breaking point and all you can do is weap. Hannah had gotten to that point. Eating was secondary because of the grief. She was near the breaking point.
Somebody knows about grief so deep that you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know what to do. Somebody knows about feeling like even God has forsaken you. We donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t talk about it often, but somebody knows about thinking that God should do something now. You are at the breaking point and you want God to act. Somebody knows about the blessings of God seeming to go to someone else. Somebody knows about the ones who always seem to have a new car and your car is broken down and you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have money to pay for repair. Somebody knows about looking at Penniah get a new job with a 30% increase in pay while you barely have a job that may lay you off at any time. Somebody has had a Hannah experience.
Hannah looked at her situation and realized that it was a bad situation and she had to do something. She did 3 things to cope with the great grief she was experiencing. She did 3 things that not only allowed her to cope, but turned a bad situation into a great one. In the rest of this message we will look at 3 things to do when you feel separated from God.
The first thing to do when one feels separated from God is to go to God. You may not feel like it. You may be mad at God and mad at GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s people, but go to God. Hannah went to God to prayer. Hannah went to the temple, talked to God, even though she did not feel like it.
Hannah went to the Lord even though Hannah thought that God was against her. And she did not play with God. She did not act like all was well. She wept to the Lord. When you come to God it is time to go ahead and be real with God. She prayed a real prayer. She was angry at God so she prayed from that anger. She was bitter in soul so she prayed from that bitterness. But she did not allow that bitterness to keep her from going to God. DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t let your anger keep you from God. God is your only hope out of the situation. God may be holding it back, but if you ever get whatever you searching for it will come from God.
Hannah went to the temple. Sometimes you gotta go to the appointed place where you know God moves. God may not always touch you, but you know God touched you before there so you go there. For God may seem like God is against you sometimes, but deep within you gotta know that God is on your side. Deep within you may not understand now, but you will understand it better by and by. Deep within you gotta know that God will fix it every time. Deep within you gotta know that God will turn it around. God may be closing your womb and you may not know why, but your only hope, your only out is to take it to the Lord in prayer. Go to God means more than prayer. Go to God means going to the temple like Hannah did. You may not feel like it, but God said that where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name there I am. You may not feel like it, but there is a special blessing when you go to church. You may sometimes feel worse, but God said I will touch you.
That brigns us to the second thing to do when you are separated from God, we must persevere in prayer. There may be sometimes where someone may question your motives when you are trying to get the blessing from God. Someone may think you want that to be puffed up. You want that job so you can be a big shot. You want that so you can be better than others. Folks in the church may misunderstand your motives, but preservere in your prayer anyway. DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t let nobody deter you from your blessing that God will give you. Hannah didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t let the High priest deter her. No I ainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t drunkÃ¢â‚¬Â¦IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m praying earnestly.
The Bible has many blessings for those who endure. So go ahead and hold on even though folks will misunderstand you. Go ahead and hold on the blessing will come. Go ahead and hold on even though folks think you are arrogant. Go ahead and hold on. Hannah persevered, Hannah went to God. Hannah wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t let nobody turn her round
Eli told her that the blessing would come. It is interesting that God does not speak at all in this story. God speaks through Eli. God spoke through the one who had just misunderstood her motives. God spoke through the one who had just misunderstood her.
It is important to recognize that even when you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like the Pastor who is preaching. Even when you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like the Elder preaching you still need to get to church. You still need to go where God speaks. If Hannah would not have been at the temple she would not have heard the voice of God through Eli telling her that she would get what she wants.
God sometimes speaks only through GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s appointed agencies. But after the voice of God came HannahÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s countenance changed. She did not look sad no more. She began eating again. Hannah trusted that God would do what God said through eli. That is point 3 what to do when you feel separated from God, believe the word. Hanah 1) went to the Lord in prayer even though it seemed like God was the one against her. Hannah 2)Perservered in the prayer even though it was not easy cause the high preiset questioned her motives. And Hannah 3) bleived the word that came. When you feel like giving up in despair you gottta go to the Lord.
The blessing may not come immediately. The blessing may not come right now. Persevere. The blessing may not come today. Persevere. Folks may make it difficult for you while you waiting for that blessing. Persevere. Folks may say that God ainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t gonna bless you. Persevere. Because sometimes God takes the same tongue that talked about you. Sometimes God takes the same tongue that put you down. And God turns that tongue into an instrument of GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s blessing on you. God knows how to take the wicked mouth. And turn it around. Somebody opens their mouth to curse youÃ¢â‚¬Â¦and a blessing comes out. It is no secret what God can do. What God has done for others GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s gonna do for you.
And when that word comes you can start eating again. You can start praising again. You can start being happy. Because when God says something it is done. The celebration already started on the way home. The celebration was already going on. The child was a certain thing. GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s gonna bless you. You have that problem you trying to beat and it breaks you down and folks say you ainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t gonna ever overcome. Go to God in prayerÃ¢â‚¬Â¦persevere in prayerÃ¢â‚¬Â¦and believe the word that comes from GodÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.be healed. And start the celebration.
You may not ever know why you had to go through that situation. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know if God was trying to teach Hannah something, but Hannah learned that Ã¢â‚¬Å“they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength and they shall mount up with wings as angels.Ã¢â‚¬Â I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know if God was trying to get Hannah closer to God, but Hannah ended up closer to God. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know if God was preparing her for the love of more children later, but God gave Hannah more sons and daughers. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know why you have to go through what you are going through, but God can and will take it and make it good.