Waiting on God in desperate times is hard. We know God is all powerful. We know He blesses His children. We know He has a perfect plan.
But boy, does that thing about His timing being better than our timing sting.
And you’re not alone in that. Hannah was a woman who was dealing with some serious anxiety in the midst of seemingly unanswered prayers (I know, join the club, right?!). But the most beautiful thing about Hannah’s story is what God did to transform the heart of a desperate woman, while she waited on answered prayer.
God Hears Our Desperate Prayers
In the Book of 1 Samuel, we meet Hannah, one of two wives of a man named Elkanah. One of the first things we learn about Hannah is that she’s barren (not exactly the way I’d like to be introduced either). In Hannah’s day, being barren was seen as a punishment from God, so you can imagine how stressed out she was. To make matters worse, Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah, was a bonafide Fertile Myrtle, who was constantly rubbing it in to torture Hannah.
Think “Mean Girls: OT Edition.”
This went on for YEARS and took a heavy toll on Hannah, to the point where 1 Samuel 1:7 (ESV) says, “Hannah wept and would not eat.”
(Some of us stress-eat. Hannah was the opposite. Either way, I know you get where our girl is coming from.)
Hannah was desperate. Verse 10 gives us a glimpse into Hannah’s prayer life as it says she “prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.” Another way to translate this is that Hannah cried out from the “bitterness of her soul.” Hannah knew that sick, sour feeling that comes along with the torment of seemingly unanswered prayer. And she brought that to God, pouring out all her tears and frustration.
As Hannah continues in prayer, she makes a vow. In verse 11, she prays, “‘O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life.” Three times in this one line, Hannah asks God for His special attention to this situation (despite the fact that she already has it). God hasn’t forgotten about her, but she feels as though maybe He has.
Is Hannah relatable or what?
Naming Our Pain (And Letting God Do What He Does)
In her desperate prayers, Hannah puts it all out on the table before the Lord. All her pain, all her anxiety, all her frustration. She doesn’t try to cover it up with flowery words– she is getting real. She calls out what she’s feeling by name, and then boldly asks God to do something with it.
SIDE NOTE: If you aren’t praying like Hannah, drop everything and go get honest with God– likerightnow. Hannah shows us that in a relationship with God, we can come as we are– messy and broken, ugly cry and all.
After Hannah prays, something in her spirit shifts. Verse 18 says after praying the in the temple, she “went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.” Check this out- the formerly Fear-orexic Hannah suddenly feels the need to skip home and get her grub on. But what happened? I mean, at this point in the story, Hannah’s not yet eating for two, so that can’t be it. Why the change? Isn’t she still the same childless, downtrodden, Peninnah punching bag she always was?
In her desperation, Hannah approached God in faith– so much so that she is set free and can finally get on with her life. She committed not just a potential heir, but her deepest desires, to the Lord– to do what He willed with them. She knows God has heard her and whatever the outcome, she knows she has put it all out there for God to use for her good and His glory.
Now that’s liberating.
Girl, Go Get a Snack
I know you’ve come across this post because you’re dealing with some pretty desperate circumstances. And even if they don’t change right away, God still wants you to bring it all to Him to make your burden light. He’s ready to lift what’s troubling you off your shoulders so you can walk in the victory He has already claimed for you, even if things stay this way a little while longer.
So honey, go get on your knees. Pour it all out for the God who loves you. Who sees you. Who cares for you. Let him set you free.
And then girl, take a deep breath and do what Hannah did- go get yourself a snack.