"Imagine myself crying and using my tears to make myself stronger."
The story of Hannah has long held a place in my heart - so much so that we named our youngest daughter after this beautiful woman of God. For so long, though, I read it as a story of a faithful prayer warrior - and it is - but it is also so much more. Hannah was a woman who longed for a child She was bullied by her husband's other wife - who does not seem like a very nice person in this story. Hannah endured the taunting of another woman, and that pain of another woman using such an intimate part of her life against her was too much for her to bear. She would be reduced to tears and not eat. Poor, sweet, well-intentioned Elkanah, her husband, tried desperately to cheer her by suggesting she not be upset over not having sons; she should be happy to have him. (Scripture points out that Elkanah had a deep love for Hannah.) Her husband already had two sons through his other wife, and men are often known to be a bit oblivious to the emotions of women. Hannah was alone in her grief.
Hannah prayed. We can glean from Scripture that Hannah was faithful in her prayer life. She attended a meal at Shiloh and went to pray at the tabernacle. In 1 Samuel 1:10 we are told that, "Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the LORD." She was so deep in prayer that the priest thought she was drunk as her lips were moving but he did not hear a sound. Her grief had rendered her without sound before her God. How many of us women have been in this place? The anguish of the situation before us brings us to our knees, uttering in silence, or crying hot, bitter tears - begging God to make it so. On this day, God saw Hannah and he gave her what her heart desired most. God's answer is not always yes and to some, the story of Hannah can be frustrating and even off-putting. She got her yes, so why am I still living in the maybe? Or, why did God say no. Why did he choose not to spare my family? Dear heart, these are questions that may never get answered. But, in the meantime, let's look at some good lessons from Hannah's journey.
IT'S OKAY TO CRY
Oh, how I cannot stress this point enough! Serving God is hard. Taking care of people is hard. Caring about both these things can put you on the fringe of our culture. We live in such a me-centered world that those who purposely seek to serve the Lord and take his mandates to heart find themselves in a great deal of emotional pain. We are told to LOVE, but that is HARD! Imagine how hard it was for Hannah to love her husband's other wife. God does not say love unless they are being mean. He simply says, "Love."
OWN YOUR FEELINGS
Friends! It is not only okay to cry - crying is beneficial! When the pain of the world is pressing down, take a step back and allow yourself to release the pain through tears. Do not apologize for your tears. Own those tears! Hannah was quick to tell the priest the reason for her tears, "But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the LORD." (1 Samuel 1:15) As the tears fall, embrace them, own them, and allow them to heal your broken heart.
CONSECRATE YOUR TEARS
Consecrate means to make holy or sacred - this is kind of huge. Tears can forgive hostility, release blockage, and allow for sweet refreshing. Hannah's tears were mocked. The other wife openly ridiculed her and her husband subtly teased her. We must be careful who we allow to see our tears! Any time your tears are mocked, you are not in a safe space. Find a safe place where your tears will not be mocked. Consider them sacred. Your tears represent the pain you feel for your situation or for the situation of someone you love - compassion moves us to tears.
And, when it was all said and done, Hannah worshiped. When you have cried and it feels like you cannot spare another tear, worship. Even if the promise has not come - even if the answer is no - worship. Your healing will come. It may arrive looking completely different than what you expected but it will come.
For as long as I can remember, I have had a passion for helping others to find their healing. The past few years have been a test in trusting the Creator for provisions and living in complete and total worship to my King. As I find myself coming through the other side of the valley, I am learning to live with both wings moving; flying balanced and fully committed to the process of living a life of faith and trust.