Sunday, June 15, 2008


1 Samuel 1 (whole chapter)

When Peninnah tormented Hannah, causing her to weep bitterly on account of her infertility, I do not believe that was of God. If it was God's intent to test or punish her, her barrenness was enough. There are many examples in Scripture of God opening the wombs of women who conceive children so that His divine plan may come to fruition, just as there are cases, such as this one, in which God closes a woman's womb. It is what it is: one of His methods. But as to vocal taunting, that's of the world. I don't want to overstep here, don't want to prompt the Lord to pull the spiritual choke chain on me, but I just don't think He's in the business of teasing. Teaching? Yes. Disciplining those He loves? Absolutely. Mocking? No! I won't believe such a thing.

So, then, we know Hannah was barren and downcast. It's interesting to note, however, that she was blessed with virtually all the earthly comforts she could have had in her day—and some were quite uncommon. Elkanah loved her dearly. He gave her a double portion of meat on the day of sacrifice to the Lord. He spoke lovingly of her. His intent was clearly for heart's content. She wouldn't know until later, but Elkanah would even submit to her when she would eventually seek to give Samuel over to the Lord, even though the custom dictated that men call the shots. Of course, who would Elkanah have been to scoff at God's plan? And yet, in spite of all this, Hannah determined that happiness hinged on having a child, and it seemed at the beginning that she was just as concerned with social status as with motherhood. In other words, as I suspect would be inherent with polygamy, Hannah wanted to shut the vile mouth of "the other woman." Then something changed.

As soon as Hannah sought God's will for her life, it was set into motion. Clearly, God was not averse to blessing her with children, but God closed up her womb until her perspective changed. Once she accepted the idea that having a child would not be for her own stature or whim, but so she might contribute to God's kingdom, she submitted her will to God's. God, in turn, gave her the desires of her heart. Not because He's inconsistent but because He had placed said desires there in the first place. She knew the plan, but she wanted to chart her own map.

Hannah started praying openly to God. She cried out to Him, in faith, in such a dramatic fashion that Eli the priest thought she had drunk too much wine or beer. Again, with her new perspective it didn't matter how the world looked upon her; she wanted God to look down and see her devotion. Where previously she submitted to Peninnah's taunts, she now surrendered herself as a vessel of God's creation, and God made her a vessel for His creation.

Sometimes we examine our situations, take inventory of what we have, and we make judgments about where we are in life. It doesn't matter if we find ourselves in a state of wealth or poverty, as true riches don't come from gold mines or oil sands or strip malls—they come from the Lord. Ever heard it said that we should honour our mother and father? How much more honour could a mother receive than to know her child not only seeks God but was born for His purpose? By God's direction, Samuel appointed Israel's first two kings. He prophesied throughout his life. What more could Hannah of asked for? But that's key: she didn't just ask; that was a dead ender. Hannah had prayed for many years. It's not always about the asking, though the Bible says that many have not because they ask not. But in Hannah's case, she didn't just ask, she offered. Her prayers of requesting were denied, but her prayers of offering were found righteous in God's sight.

I've been researching material for a Sunday school class about cravings. In that process, I made a shocking discovery: it's good to crave. Don't misunderstand me; it's not good that we lack. It's not good that we deny God or that we, as a race, have broken and cursed the world by inviting sin into it. That's not what I'm saying. But isn't it wonderful that God placed within us a spirit that pines for His presence? It's true that many of us miss the big picture and try to feed our cravings with sustenance that sustains nothing, but when we acknowledge how we need God, when we earnestly seek Him, we have an awareness of what we lack. We catch glimpses of our purpose and the life God envisions for us—if we'd only accept it. When we crave, it's the soul's way of inviting God to be our Sovereign. It's an unspoken prayer every time we yearn for God to touch our lives. If unbelievers didn't crave, they wouldn't know that God was missing in their lives. What would motivate them to seek Him?

I've concluded that craving is not a sign of weakness. It's an act of wisdom. To crave is to care, to care that God wants a relationship with us. Hannah had intimacy with God through her prayers. Her life was blessed with meaning when she conceived Samuel for God's purpose. She fulfilled her destiny when she acted in faith and gave him over to God for temple service. He became a great prophet who lived in the faith and became her legacy. God is faithful to those who love Him.

That's why God can NEVER remove your craving from you when you try to satisfy it with things that will destroy you. Craving is a good thing. It's only by craving that we can stop craving, because it will never be taken away until God occupies the vacancies of your heart. Then, and only then, will you know the kind of peace Hannah did when she lived in obedience.

I've been sitting on this post for a few weeks now, but since the course is done, I thought I might share it. End transmission.


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