Hannah's Prayer of Deep Distress

Leanne VanDyk

READ : 1 Samuel 1

But Hannah answered, “. . . I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time.” Then Eli answered, “Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.” (vv. 15-17)

The story of Hannah is one of grief turned to joy. The biblical narrator emphasizes the long duration of Hannah’s sorrow and pain at her childlessness. “Year by year,” we read, Hannah’s husband Elkanah went up to Shiloh to worship the Lord, sacrificing an animal and bringing a portion back to his family. And “year by year” Hannah wept and would not eat any of the gift her husband brought to her. Hannah’s infertility was a continuing, persistent anguish for her. Year after year she prayed to God, and year after year nothing happened. Prayers of distress and sorrow sometimes last a long time.

Hannah’s anguish eventually came to an end. Her prayers were answered. She gave birth not only to Samuel, but also to three more sons and two daughters. In God’s wise timing, Hannah’s wait was over. Our prayers of sorrow and pain are also, at times, lengthy, and we say with the psalmist, “How long, O Lord?”

PRAYER

God of faithfulness, in our darkest times give us the persistence of Hannah, who prayed through her pain, year by year. Help us to look to you both in our need and in our joy. Amen.