Please Read 1 Samuel 1: 1-28
I was reading 1 Samuel the other day and as I read the first chapter something struck me. A sentence that was repeated twice but I had missed in my previous readings of the exact same word. We are introduced to Hannah and we are told that Hannah did not have children because: “The Lord had closed her womb”. This was not said once but twice and it caught my attention and I pondered on this piece of information. I have been learning that no piece of information in the bible is random, everything is relevant and as we grow spiritually we gain discernment by letting the Holy Spirit teach us. I have been told by Christ that the Holy Spirit is my helper (John 16) and that if I want wisdom I should ask God and that is what I do when I read the bible, I ask a lot of questions. No, it is not wrong to ask God questions, it is wrong to question God though. While seeking God and understanding, never question his sovereignty, authority, supremacy or his being, He still remains God and can do what he wants but it is okay to ask for revelation and wisdom regarding his word and he would answer.
So when I saw that the “Lord had closed Hannah’s womb”, I proceeded to share my thoughts and questions with the Holy Spirit. I felt it was a contradiction to what I knew about God and his promises. I knew God wanted us “to be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28) and that he grants us the desires of our heart so I was confused as to how this same God could close Hannah’s womb and I wanted to know why. In the footnotes of one of my bibles, they explained that when we are told God did something seemingly negative, what it implies is that God allowed it to happen. So I asked again: “why did God allow this to happen to Hannah making her the victim of her rival’s bullying and the Holy Spirit showed me some things.
1) Sometimes we are often too distracted by the problems we face that we ignore God and don’t bring him into the situation. Hannah and this situation is a metaphor for those facing difficult and painful situations and I am not only referring to fertility issues. We are told that:
“And her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb. 7 So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat.”
What the holy spirit emphasised to me was that Hannah was too distracted and too busy being a victim that she thought she was powerless. Like many of us, she got comfortable throwing a pity party and feeling sorry for herself that she seemed to forget the God she served. This is the same thing the devil does to us and he keeps us so depressed and overwhelmed by our problems that we just forget all about God. I mean “year by year” when they went to the house of the Lord where they were meant to go and pray, Peninah chose those moments to provoke Hannah into weeping and starving. Even though we are not told explicitly that Hannah was not praying, it is implied because when Hannah did pray something changed. Hannah’s weeping and starving was really a waste of time and didn’t actually achieve anything (maybe she lost some weight though) and that is why she remained in that situation for so long because instead of doing something about her problem, she let the enemy get the best of her and forgot to take the issue to the only one that could fix the situation.
2) Sometimes God allows us to go through certain experiences to teach us how to focus on him. It is in our most difficult moments that we grow in relationship with God because when we choose to focus on him and not the problem, we see his amazing power at work. When Hannah FINALLY decided to pour out her soul before the Lord, something changed in the spiritual realm. We are told, “Hannah arose…and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish”. Hannah finally realised that crying to her husband or starving herself was not the solution and decided to take the issue to the “Lord of Hosts”. God doesn’t mind us crying but we better pray while we cry instead of just feeling sorry for ourselves and that is what Hannah learnt. She even made a vow to show how desperate she was and I couldn’t help but wonder why she didn’t do this years before. Why did Hannah let the provocations of the enemy keep her stuck for so long? And then I realised I have been Hannah too. I have found myself in situations feeling sorry for myself and playing victim that I kind of forget to take the situation to God. Hannah let the devil have his way for so long but one day “Hannah arose” and EVERYTHING changed.
3) When Hannah prayed, she was so passionate about it that Eli the High Priest thought she was drunk. In the place of prayer, we sometimes have to give it our all. The type of prayer that makes people wonder if everything is okay, the type when you pour out your soul to God in anguish. We sometimes have to be aggressive and take what is ours and this is the point Hannah had gotten to. God is really cool either way, the presence of God is a judgement free zone and you can express yourself in complete and reckless abandon and Hannah clearly did that after years of frustration. God wanted Hannah to take control of her situation and he allowed her to experience what she did knowing fully well that she was eventually going to realise the power within her and call on the Lord of Hosts to fight her battle. And when she did, he was ready to answer her call. God is ready to answer your call, you just have to call on him.
4) A lot of times, when we pray to God we pray without expectation, we hope that something happens but on some level we don’t truly believe that God is going to do anything. This is where Hannah was different. Once Hannah poured out her soul to God and Eli gave her words of reassurance: “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him.”, Hannah truly believed that her prayer was answered. Hannah did not even have the advantage we have in having Christ as her high priest, but Eli represented God to her and a word from him was good enough. The reason I say this is that after her prayers and interaction with Eli, Hannah “went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad”. Isn’t that just INCREDIBLE? The same woman that had been weeping and refusing to eat at the beginning now decided to eat and was no longer sad. This tells us that Hannah just knew that something had shifted in the spiritual realm and once she surrendered and gave God all of her burdens, she truly believed that was the end of the matter.
She did what we are told to do in 1 Peter 5:7 (amp) which is: “casting the whole of your care (all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, ONCE AND FOR ALL) on Him, for he cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully”. The words ONCE AND FOR ALL is the clincher here because a lot of us cast our burdens on Him for a little while and then collect our load back and continue to carry it around while claiming we have prayed about it. Please if you really want to give God the burden then do so, don’t carry it again because it means you are not giving it to God fully and that means you have no faith in God. In fact some people look more downcast after praying, like they don’t expect God to answer their prayers? So what is the point? Having a relationship with God is an all or nothing game, you can’t give him some parts of your life and hold other parts back. You can’t claim to TRULY believe his word then continue to feel sad when you have submitted your burdens to him. It is either you are going to surrender fully or don’t even bother.
Like Hannah, our actions have to back up our claims and if we pray about it then we have to believe that is the end of the matter. We have to believe that the moment we got God involved was the moment the battle was won. We change our prayer style from petition to praise and worship and just keep thanking God. Don’t claim to pray about something then keep telling everyone that’ll listen that you have a problem. If anything, declare God’s faithfulness and worship him for answering your prayer.
Some of us are stuck because we are just not willing to grow to the point where we fully trust God with our burdens. Isn’t it interesting that Hannah was granted her request after all of this? What that tells me is that if Hannah had stepped up sooner, then her pain and sorrow could have ended way sooner but she just didn’t and instead she kept thinking: “God closed my womb”. God will let us stay in a situation until we are ready to acknowledge the power that is within us that he is able to fix ANY SITUATION.
As I write this, I am realising that my recent posts seem to be saying the same thing but in different ways and I can’t help but wonder why God is driving this point so strongly. I know this is for me but I also feel like he is really speaking to you, trying to get you to take your eyes off the problem and instead focus on him. Believe him, trust him and obey him and he won’t let you down. Cast your burdens on him today for one last time, ONCE AND FOR ALL and then just get your dancing shoes on, get the music playing loudly and just have A PRAISE PARTY!!!