9 After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.
(1 Samuel 1:9-10)
We’ve all experienced anger to the point where we are so upset we cannot eat or stand to be in the presence of the people who are causing us pain. Our tendency is to lash out or storm off in a huff. This never does any good. Hannah, on the other hand, respected the situation – they were in church (so to speak), in public, at a celebration of God. This certainly would not have been the proper time to make a scene.
Instead Hannah didn’t leave the festivities until they were over. This is just one example of her behavior that demonstrates how mature and godly she was.
When she did leave she was still deeply distressed over the whole situation – Peninnah’s provocations and Elkanah’s inability to understand. Yet she dealt with her anguish in the proper way. She prayed to the Lord.
Hannah took her pain to God in prayer. This is the proper way to deal with our problems. And this is exactly why God allows problems to come into our lives: so they send us to Him.
God wants us to draw near to Him, to learn to depend on Him. And He uses problems to accomplish this. If we don’t take our problems to Him then we are missing the entire point of how God works in our lives.
Notice also that as she prayed she wept bitterly. Hannah did not hide her feelings. She was transparent before God. Honesty before God is critical. God cannot help someone who is not broken. When we try to retain any of our own strength we lose out on the strength of God. This is because we will try to solve our problems ourselves. The only way to truly have our problems solved through prayer is to admit our complete inability to solve them on our own and to rely totally and completely on God’s power and wisdom.
This is not to say that God will wave a magic wand and make our problems go away. He won’t. Likely He will lead us through a series of practical steps that will solve the problem. All the while, prayer should continue to permeate the process in order to keep our focus off ourselves and on God.
Notice that it was her pain that drove Hannah to God. Year after year she had been harassed by Peninnah for not having children. Just like physical pain that won’t go away is an indication that we need to see a doctor, emotional pain that won’t go away is an indication that we need to pray.
Sadly, though, we often respond to pain in other ways. We whine, claiming life is not fair. Or we “grin and bear it”. Or we seek the advice of a friend. None of these things work. Prayer is God’s plan for us to deal with our problems.
God wants us to cast our cares upon Him because He cares for us [Psalm 50:15; 1 Peter 5:7]. Prayer is how we access the all-sufficient God who alone can meet our needs.
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