Running to and crying out to God in every circumstance is easier said than done, especially when the situations we are in are dark and seem utterly hopeless. Walking through dark seasons full of disappointment can be incredibly difficult when the people around us seem oblivious to our suffering. It can be even harder when the other people around us are somehow receiving everything we have been praying for.
Maybe your friend just got accepted into their dream school, but you can’t seem to get a yes from any college. Maybe your coworker got a promotion and you’ve been trying to earn even a pay raise for years. Maybe you’ve been waiting to get married for years, but those around you seem to be finding spouses like crazy. Maybe you’ve had three miscarriages and struggled to get pregnant, but you open facebook and see that God has answered someone else’s prayers for a child. Disappointment doesn’t even begin to describe the circumstance you’re currently in.
In 1 Samuel chapter 1, Hannah is faced with the very real feeling of disappointment:
Each year Elkanah would travel to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies at the Tabernacle. The priests of the Lord at that time were the two sons of Eli—Hophni and Phinehas. On the days Elkanah presented his sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to Peninnah and each of her children. And though he loved Hannah, he would give her only one choice portion because the Lord had givenher no children. So Peninnah would taunt Hannah and make fun of her because the Lord had kept her from having children. Year after year it was the same—Peninnah would taunt Hannah as they went to the Tabernacle. Each time, Hannah would be reduced to tears and would not even eat. “Why are you crying, Hannah?” Elkanah would ask. “Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me—isn’t that better than having ten sons?”
1 Samuel 1:3-8
Hannah is clearly crushed and hurt by her current situation: she desperately wants a child but can’t have one, she’s being taunted by Peninnah, and her husband is completely oblivious to the complete emotional anguish she’s in. Anyone in Hannah’s situation would be reduced to tears and be unable to eat.
But the focus of Hannah’s story is not her lack of a child or God not answering her prayers. It’s on how Hannah responds to her situation in the moment. When Hannah was faced with deep, emotional anguish she left her situation to be alone and pray, and prayed with complete honesty.
When Hannah prayed she was described as being in deep anguish and crying out bitterly to the Lord. Hannah prayed so honestly in the temple that Eli the priest thought that she must be drunk! Hannah remarkably responds to Eli in that moment by saying “…I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord.” Hannah gave the Lord everything that was in her heart, good and bad.
Once Hannah returned from praying, she went back to eat again, and she was no longer sad. It’s important to note that at this point in Hannah’s story, her prayers for a child hadn’t been answered yet, so that’s not why she wasn’t sad anymore. Hannah wasn’t changed because her circumstance changed, she was changed because she had spent time being honest in the presence of God.
Maybe your life situation isn’t anything like Hannah’s, but the feeling of disappoint is all too real for you. Spending time alone in honest prayer is one of the best ways to get though life’s difficult circumstances. Seasons in life change, but God doesn’t, so when life gets hard, run to the God who never changes and find rest.
Read 1 Samuel 1:1-18.