Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim Zophim, of the mountains of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. And he had two wives: the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. This man went up from his city yearly to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. Also the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, were there. And whenever the time came for Elkanah to make an offering, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, although the Lord had closed her womb. And her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb. 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. (1 Samuel 1:1-7)
She Never Gave Up On God
One of the great heroines of scripture is Hannah, mother of the last judge of Israel, Samuel. The life of Hannah was filled with disappointment and pain. She was one of two wives to Elkanah, which by its nature would gender jealousy. To make matters worse, Hannah could not bear children. Her rival, Peninnah, had sons and daughters, but not so for Hannah. She desired to give her husband a child, but the Lord had closed her womb. Peninnah was a vindictive woman who continually gave grief to Hannah for being childless. A woman’s identity was rooted in the blessing of giving her husband a child. To be childless was considered a shameful thing. Elkanah loved Hannah more than Peninnah and showered a double portion on Hannah. Still, Hannah had no children.
It was difficult for Hannah to see the children of Peninnah running around the home when she was barren. Peninnah made a point of making Hannah’s life miserable with taunts about her being barren and making fun of her. The grief of being childless did not diminish Hannah’s love for God. She wept over her condition, but she did not blame the Lord. Her life was filled with misery and complaint. Walking around the market, Hannah would feel the piercing eyes of those who looked upon her childless condition. Tongues would wag from gossipers who whispered unkind things about Elkanah’s wife, who could not give her husband children. Hannah endured societal shame and remained faithful to her love for God.
Elkanah tried to reassure Hannah, but he did not understand why Hannah was childless. Her affliction was tragic, and Elkanah tried to be a loving and kind husband. Nothing seemed to change the story. Hannah remained barren. In the face of her trial, Hannah went up to the house of the Lord year by year. She pled her case to God. Her faith did not waver in believing God would bless her. There was no guarantee she would have a child. Many women remained childless and died, never giving their husbands an heir. Hannah was unsure if God would bless her with a child. She kept her faith. Worship was very special to her; she kept her faith and love for God. Her life was hard, empty, and filled with adversity, and she never turned away from the promise of the Lord. God would bless Hannah with four sons and two daughters. Her first son, Samuel, was dedicated to the Lord, becoming one of the great judges of Israel. Hannah’s faith ‘won the day’ as she continued to worship the Lord and praise Him.
It is easy when life is unfair to turn away from God. Many have faced great adversity and seek solace in the world rather than drawing closer to God. Hannah faced the greatest challenge of her life and never turned away from God. Nothing guaranteed she would have children. She kept her love for God. Her faith did not waver. She worshiped the Lord year by year at the house of God. Faith is strongest when times are hard, and answers are unknown. The Lord does not change. He promises blessings to the faithful, but sometimes those blessings have to wait for eternity. Hannah did not give up on God, and He did not give up on her.