It seems to me that so often we have a fatalistic approach to life and faith. Though we would love to see our circumstances or situation change, we often feel helpless to do anything about it ourselves, and, if we are honest, are unsure if God is able and willing to enter into our pain and loss and bring his hope and peace. Perhaps you have found yourself deeply troubled by unanswered prayer, times in life when you’ve allowed yourself to be vulnerable with God and believe for impossible things, only to see those prayers go seemingly unheard?
For much of her life, Hannah found herself in this very place of desperation. Hannah had a profound longing for children, yet after praying “in the house of the LORD” for years that God would answer this prayer, she remained barren. Though thousands of years separate us, there is something deeply human about her story that each of us can relate to in some way. Who doesn’t know the feeling of desperately wanting something yet wondering if you will ever live to see it? Perhaps, like Hannah, you struggle with infertility and deeply relate with her pain. Your struggle might be different. You may find yourself filled with longing for the salvation of a loved one, the return of a prodigal child, or healing from a life-threatening illness.
Whatever the details of your circumstance may be, a foundational question lies before you: does your desperation turn you towards God in faith or away from him in fear? It is understandable to struggle with why God chooses to answer some prayers and seemingly ignore or reject others. Most certainly Hannah spent years of her life wondering why God refused such a sincere and heartfelt prayer. As she says, her soul was “deeply troubled.” And yet, in the same breath, in the midst of her confusion, she continues to press in and “pour out her soul before the LORD.”
Hannah’s story reminds us that God tells good stories. The story of creation is bent towards justice, towards redemption, towards the flourishing of life within his Kingdom. Do you believe this? Can you cling to this hope, even if hope seems impossibly distant at this very moment? Hannah trusted in the goodness and faithfulness of God and continued to take steps of faithful obedience, even in the midst of a season of uncertainty and doubt. May God give us the courage and strength to do the same.