I Samuel 1 tells the story of Hannah who prayed for God to grant her a child. She is an example of someone whose faith made the difference in her life. It was her faith that led her to pray, and it was her faith that enabled her to give the child to the Lord for His service, as she had vowed. She conceived the child in faith, and she released the child in faith to the LORD for His service at the appropriate time. And Hannah was blessed to go on to have five more children after Samuel.
What can we say about Hannah’s faith?
- Hannah had a praying faith.
Faith is only faith when it is exercised. Faith is only faith when it is placed firmly in the LORD. Prayer is that tool that enables us to not just believe something, but to do something and to receive something supernatural. Prayer gives us the opportunity to lay our hearts before the Lord, our desires before the Lord and helps us connect to God in a way that pleases Him.
Hannah prayed in faith. She knew that God alone had the answer for her situation. She believed He could do for her what she needed to have done. Too many believers are giving up hope that their circumstances can never change, that God cannot do or won’t do for us what we know He has done for other people. Too many people are accepting less than what God says is possible. Too many believers have more faith in the idea that their circumstances are fixed than they do in the power of God to change them.
- Hannah had a persistent faith. Listen to verses 6 and 7 again. Her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. 7 This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. Year after year. Whenever she went up to the house of the Lord, Peninnah always got in her face. Here Hannah was, trying to get to church, trying to commune with God, trying to get relief and help, and there was always an attack, an obstacle to overcome. Anybody else have to deal with challenges on their way to the church house?
But Hannah didn’t let the oppression from Peninnah keep her from her worship, from getting to the place of sacrifice. She could have made excuses about why she couldn’t get to worship. After a while she could have said it wasn’t worth it. This was an ongoing situation. This was a year after year, time after time, situation. Not only did her barrenness persist, but so did the attacks from Peninnah. The Scripture calls Peninnah Hannah’s rival. There was no rivalry on Hannah’s part. She wasn’t in a battle or competition with Peninnah. She just wanted a child of her own. Peninnah was the one who made it into something it wasn’t.
So many people get discouraged and check out of their faith walk because of something someone says or the way someone acts. Sometimes it is even because of the way they are treated by another believer. I know we are human. I know we have feelings. I know we can get hurt. Trust me, I have my share of disappointments and hurts from humans that I have to press past, but I am determined that I won’t allow anyone or anything to get in the way of my pursuit of the LORD and what He has for me. Hannah had the same kind of persistence. Her persistence made the difference. What if she had given up and quit making that pilgrimage to seek God?
- Hannah had a passionate faith.
Hers was not a little, “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayer. No, she was pouring out her heart to God. Her anguish was seen. Her heartache was visible. She was passionate not just about getting an answer, but she was passionate about honoring God when the answer came. The child she prayed for would be dedicated back to God’s service.
She was so passionate, so animated, so visibly moved in her prayer time that the priest, Eli, thought she was drunk. The text said that when Eli saw her, her lips were moving, but she was just praying in her heart. I don’t know why that would make him think she was drunk. Drunk people are usually a bit more animated than that. I assume she was staggering and swaying and punching the air at the same time. I won’t interpret the text for you that way, but in my mind’s eye, that’s what I see. However she was praying, she didn’t care what other people thought. She was desperate for God to move. She said in verse 15 that she was pouring out her soul to the LORD.
Desperation is a component of faith. It isn’t a last resort, last ditch effort to get help. It is part of the process. Desperation proves we are moving beyond ourselves. It proves we are admitting our weakness and limitation and are reaching for God. God moves to bless people who are desperate for a touch from Him and more than that, He moves to bless those who are desperate for Him and His will and His glory to be seen in their lives. Hannah wanted a baby, yes, but she wanted to honor and glorify God above her desire for a child. She wanted God more than she wanted her miracle.
People with passionate, desperate faith don’t care if others misinterpret their actions or label them a fanatic. They will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to get ahold of God. Her prayerful, persistent, and passionate faith were public. Everyone knew what Hannah was praying for every year when she got to the temple. Her faith made a difference. Her prayer was answered, and her faith encouraged those who watched her believe God for the miracle she needed.
Is God calling you to demonstrate faith so that others can be inspired to connect to Him? Is God urging you to reach for Him in faith so that He can bless you in ways you haven’t yet dreamed were possible? Do you need to repent this morning from trying to walk in your own intellect, on your own merits, through your own efforts? Are you ready to move past depression or feelings of defeat? Are you ready to push past hurts with people in order to get help from God? Let your faith be the difference in how your circumstances will be resolved. Let your faith be the difference in how others encounter Jesus as they observe you in your struggle.