Elkanah sat at the table after serving everybody. He looked at his favorite wife. “Hannah, why aren’t you eating? I’ve given you twice as much as anyone else. Don’t let the food go to waste.”
Peninnah snickered. “I don’t know why you throw the food to a dog like that. She’s only eating for one. She always is.”
A tear rolled down Hannah’s cheek.
Elkanah rubbed her shoulder. “My love, I should be worth ten sons to you.”
Hannah sat in silence until everyone left the table to get ready to go to the tabernacle. She sulked out to speak to God on her own.
She sank to her knees when she reached the front wall of the dwelling place of God. “Oh, God, why? Why? What have I done wrong? What must I change? I’ll do anything for children…anything. I am Your servant, Lord. If you give me a son I will bring him here to You. He will be set apart for Your use. A razor will not touch his head.”
“Woman, why are you so drunk this early in the day? Have you no shame?”
Hannah sat up straight. She looked to her right and found the priest Eli looking at her. “No, my lord. I’m not drunk. I swear. My heart is shattered. I’m pouring my pain out to God. That’s all. Please believe me.”
Eli let out a huge breath. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have jumped to that conclusion. May God grant your request.”
Hannah stood then bowed to Eli. “Thank you. Thank you.”
She returned home and ate her food while everyone else went to the tabernacle.
So begins the book of 1 Samuel. A woman praying to God about the pain in her heart.
Most of our prayers are basic. Hopefully we remember to be grateful for what we have. We ask for something we want to have and/or ask for something for someone else.
Occasionally we’re at the point Hannah found herself in, or worse. The pain is so deep. Our emotions are so raw. We’re at a loss about what we should ask God for.
We’re told Hannah prayed silently while her mouth went through the motions of talking. That’s why Eli thought she was drunk.
Hannah was so focused on getting her pain out to God everything around her was gone.
She didn’t know Eli was watching her. If she did she didn’t care.
All that mattered was getting the pain out by bringing it to God so God could help her deal with it.
God still hears those types of prayers.
Now He helps us when we can’t find the words to express how distraught we are.
Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.
God’s Holy Spirit indwells every born-again believer in Christ so we have an advocate while we pray to God.
Two things are important to notice in those verses.
First and foremost the Holy Spirit prays according to God’s will. That means the pain may continue for a while. It may last the rest of your life. Prepare for that possibility.
Many people are so conditioned into thinking if there’s something wrong in our life God will fix it to bless us.
I have some hard news for you. God is not in the blessing just to bless business. He wants to conform us into the image of Jesus Christ. That usually requires a lot of suffering.
This world we live in is broken. So are the people we share this planet with. One person’s pleasure sometimes comes at the expense of another person’s pain. I wish that wasn’t true, but it is.
We’ll never know full peace and blessing until we’re in heaven with God.
While we’re here we’ll have pain. Fortunately, God understands this.
The second part of those verses to remember is our intercessor occasionally runs out of words for our pain, too.
Yeah, even the Holy Spirit can’t tell God what we want to say because our pain is so intense.
Read verse 26 again. The Holy Spirit groans for us when the hurt is too excruciating.
There is no promise of relief from this pain, only understanding.
I don’t find a formula prayer to pray for freedom, either.
We must trust God is up to something and He knows what He’s doing with us.
Butterflies must struggle out of their chrysalis in order to survive. If you cut it open for them they’ll die.
The effort of breaking free strengthens the heart. After they breathe air that heart must pump blood into the fragile wings. Only after the vessels are spread out are the wings ready to set that bug to flight and freedom from the gravitational pull that kept it earthbound.
Your struggles are making you stronger, too. I don’t know what, or who, God is turning you into, but He does.
There are others going through similar circumstances.
After you come through this mess a stronger person you can help them see how it’s done.
They’re looking for hope. Your story will give them that hope.
When they learn someone else groaned those same utterances they’ll listen to you.
The verse that follows those verses tells us all things are working together for good, not that all things are good when they happen.
Hardship, pain, suffering and struggle are a part of living life.
That’s why God’s Spirit groans for us and with us.
God also promises to wipe every tear away in heaven.
Peace and blessings will overflow then.
Until that time take things one step at a time if that’s all you can manage.
Pour out your heart to God.
He’s listening and waiting to hear your groans.
I’ll see you later. Wade