“Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” 1 Samuel 1:15
Does God hear? Does God see our tears? If there was someone in the Bible who took her deep concerns to the Lord, it was Hannah, the mother of Samuel.
We’ve all gone through heartbreak in one form or another. For Hannah, it was because she was barren while Peninah, the other wife of Elkanah, had children. In ancient times, the barrenness of the womb was seen by society as a curse. It was as if God Himself had cursed a woman because fruitfulness was seen as a blessing. The barren woman, therefore, dealt with shame. This gave Peninah the bold arrogance to taunt Hannah (see 1 Sam 1:6-7) even if Elkanah would do his best to show Hannah she was loved.
For those of us who are heartbroken and taunted at, it will always be our choice to bring our anguish and grief to the Lord. Do we do this? Or do we keep it in?
The Bible says that Hannah wept bitterly before the Lord. “In her deep anguish, Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly” (1 Sam. 1:10). Hannah also made a vow. “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head” (1 Sam. 1:11).
Eli thought Hannah was drunk. But when Hannah explained to him that she was praying out of her deep trouble, Eli released peace upon her and declared a blessing of an answered prayer. He could have simply shook his head, turned around, or reprimanded her for weeping too much, but out of Eli’s mouth came life.
When we see people who grieve, do we make their load harder by the words that come out of our mouths? Do we take the role of Peninah and taunt them?
The taunting of Peninah happened year after year—in the same manner that year after year, Hannah found herself childless. It just so happened that on one particular year, the High Priest Eli stood by the doorpost with a clear visual of Hannah. This would be pivotal for Hannah.
Life or Death Is in the Tongue
When words are used to bless and bring peace, situations can change for the better. Eli was the High Priest of Israel at that time, and thus carried spiritual authority on his shoulders. His words carried weight! This doesn’t mean that God answers the prayers of priests or pastors faster than He does ordinary people. No, not at all! But those in spiritual authority have an important role to play in facilitating God’s desires for His people in the words that they release! God honors spiritual authority.
After this incident, we see God move in behalf of Hannah. She found herself pregnant with Elkanah’s child. After little Samuel was weaned, he was given to the care of Eli to minister in the house of the Lord.
The story of Hannah should make us reflect on two things: First is— do we bring our anguish and grief to the Lord? Second is: Are our mouths conduits of taunting and shame, or do they release peace and blessing?
Let us be people who know how to approach the King in our grief, as well as people who know the kind of grace we need to release from our mouths
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.