Have you ever had a desire so great that it would feel wrong to never have it satisfied? A longing so deep that it’s not natural, it’s almost… supernatural? A cry for a hope that closes your ears to any earthly comfort and drives you to your knees to pour out your soul out to the only One who can grant it? In this Women of Faith post, we are visiting the story of Hannah. Hannah’s grief over a longing unfulfilled drove her to lay all her cards out on the table before the Lord. And God heard her bold, faith-filled cry.
“Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” 1 Samuel 1:15-16
Hannah was the first of Elkanah’s two wives. Peninnah was the other. Hannah was painfully barren. Penninah was mockingly fruitful. And she was mean. The bible story is very clear about how Peninnah treated Hannah, tormenting her about the fact that she had not given their husband any children. I’m not even going to pretend to know how Hannah felt, but I can tell you that I have had people flaunt their blessings in front of me as if to say, “See??? God must like me better than YOU.” At least, that’s definitely the way the enemy wanted me to interpret it! And Hannah wasn’t just throwing a fit, she was in deep anguish and grief over this.
Here’s the thing- someone in this world is always going to want something that I have.
And I may long for something they have been blessed with. For example, I have been very blessed to have what some consider many children- seven beautiful blessings that I was told my body could never carry. Trust me when I tell you that I stood in faith for each and every one. But one of the deepest longings in my heart, besides having a big family, has been to own a home. Not just any home though, I have longed for a certain kind of home and have a whole vision of what it will be like when the Lord gives it- if it is His Will.
When my growing family was stuffed inside a single-wide mobile home or living in sub-standard rentals, many of my friends were renovating their existing homes or purchasing their 2nd and third homes. It hurt. The homes they were selling to buy newer and bigger homes, I would have gladly settled into. But for various reasons, the blessing of home ownership remained out of our grasp and I began to take it as a personal slight from the Lord.
Desperation in the Longing
Why weren’t we ‘good enough’ to own a home? Why wouldn’t God help us get to that point? Why, just when we would start to settle somewhere, would He up and move us AGAIN? My heart didn’t just cry out for a house to own and call ours, it longed for ROOTS.
Enter desperation in my longing. Just like Hannah, I reached a point to where I needed to lay it all out before God and wait breathlessly for His answer. I don’t know if I can articulate what I am sensing about this move of faith in the process, but when a person reaches this point- there is something to be said for the raw honesty that comes through our prayers. A level of authenticity happens that we usually keep buried in our hearts and would never dream of confessing with our mouths for fear of looking self-righteous, pouty or angry with the Lord.
But when we reach the place of desperation, all politeness is gone, we are in pain and we want relief in our souls. We are trying so hard to cling to our beliefs that God is good in the midst of our troubles. We know that none of our efforts have worked up to this point and our eyes, finally, lock on the One who can change everything with one word, one touch.
Pour Your Soul OUT
So, we pour out souls OUT. All the questioning, all the hurt, all the doubt, all the resentment, and bitterness… it finally comes out to the One Who can truly heal us. Though we would still like to see God give us the thing we want, it’s not even about that anymore- it’s about whether or not our heavenly Father loves us, is still with us, cares for us. And it is often the very place in our hearts that God has been waiting to move in.
By the time I reached this point with God in my journey, I had a shocking revelation- yes, I still wanted to be a part of the homeowners club. But owning a home was NOT proof of His love or blessing upon my life. Oh, I hope I am communicating this well, because sister, I truly believe knowing this beautiful tidbit can set us free:
Your desires matter to Him, but you are blessed becuase you KNOW Him. Not because you obtain the thing you desire.
“But to Hannah, he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb. Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her.” 1 Samuel 5:6
Peninnah, as the story goes, had many children over Hannah. She was arrogant about it and abusive toward others. Nothing about her was gracious. But Hannah was LOVED. Hannah communed with her God.
Without ever bearing one child, she was already BLESSED.
After pouring out her soul to God, she made a vow- she wasn’t asking for as many children as Peninnah had, she only needed to have ONE. And she would even give him back to God if God would have mercy and allow her to have a child. God grants her request and she keeps her vow, giving Samuel back to the Lord to serve in the priesthood. She goes on to have 5 more children in her lifetime. And I sure she treasured each and everyone- but the blessing wasn’t just having the children… it was the fact that God HEARD her and granted her request.
Sometimes, walking in faith isn’t so much about getting the thing we want, as much as it is turning to the One who can give it. If we are loved, then sister, we ARE blessed. If we are heard, then we are BLESSED. If He cares about our desires, then we are BLESSED. And we can trust that He will withhold no good thing from us if we continue in our faith.