When was the last time you felt like you just couldn’t win? Did you face reality head on or did you run from it? For me, the answer to that question can often be found in my activity level. If you catch me running, scattered from task to task, without a minute to spare, it’s likely that I am avoiding some reality of my life. A second indicator that exposes my avoidance of reality shows up when I am reading. I love to read. Reading helps me think and process the events of my life. I can do it in almost any environment. That is, unless, I have something weighing heavy on my heart. In these times, I cannot focus on reading. Sure, I might go through the motions, but I cannot hear the words. Nothing gets through. My general reaction is to go, busying myself with things that do not need thought or thinking. This avoidance leads me right back to the first scenario. I am not unique. I am sure that you have a coping mechanism as well. According to today’s reading, Hannah had one too.
Elkanah’s wife, Hannah, did not have any children. As a result, she was given one portion of meat to worship with as a sacrifice to God at the Temple. Elkanah’s second wife Peninnah, however, had two children and, therefore, received three portions with which to worship and sacrifice. For Hannah, this time of annual worship and sacrifice served as a cruel reminder that God had not given her any children. To make matters worse, Peninnah made fun of her for it, continuously deepening Hannah’s wound. Her reaction, year after year was to cry. In fact, she would make herself so upset, that she couldn’t even stand to eat.
We all get to choose how we respond to life’s circumstances. Whether your reaction is more like Hannah’s or mine is irrelevant. In the end, they both lead to the same place. Nowhere good. Hannah finally figured this out. Eventually, she looked to God. As she offered her sacrifice, she looked to the Lord, and through her deep anguish and bitter weeping, she prayed and with all of her heart and laid her cares upon God. Similarly, David’s heavy heart pours out through prayer in Psalm 14. In these moments, Hannah and David both relinquish their futile attempts to change their own reality and instead, depend on God.
Have you ever prayed like that? Seriously, consider for a moment, right now, what it would feel like to spend a few minutes, a few hours, or a whole day, detaching yourself from the activity and crying so that you can give it to God. Why not? Are you afraid of what you might hear? I am here to tell you that the best time to do this is right now, in the midst of the current gridlock in your calendar and in the middle of your deep anguish. If you are praying to the same God that I am, He promises to give us an answer.
My rumination on Hannah and David pouring out their hearts to the Lord has encouraged me to pray similarly. I’m also praying that God urges you to do so as well. As you do, I will be praying for you, as Eli did, “go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.”