There’s this woman named Hannah who was married to Elkanah. The twist to this story was that Elkanah also had another wife named Peninnah, but let’s just call her Peni. Hannah was barren and could not conceive while Peni was able to pop out kid after kid.
You can only imagine how this made Hannah feel. Talk about rejection after rejection. Not only was she feeling rejected by God for not allowing her to conceive, (1 Samuel 1:5) she was also feeling rejected by her husband because he had taken another wife to have children with. The people looked at her and thought she was cursed because back in those days, they believed that if you couldn’t conceive you were a disgrace. Hannah dealt with so much pain and hurt because of her inability to conceive a child.
Every year they would go and worship the Lord and offer a sacrifice. Scripture says that during this time Hannah would have to face her rival Peni, who would taunt her. Can you imagine being in your place of worship and having to face your rival? And still, keep it Christ-like?! This is where I admire Hannah because she kept her eyes on the Lord and didn’t react to Peni. “Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the Lord and wept with many tears.” 1 Sam 1:10 HCSB. My professor in college would always say that tears are liquid prayers too.
Despite all the hurt, the pain, the rejection that Hannah faced, she still kept God first. She was a woman of self-control and perseverance. Hannah took her problems to God and not her rival Peni. Hannah was a wise woman; she went to the one that would be able to make a change in her life and open her womb to have children. During her times of crying out to the Lord, she made a vow that if the Lord would allow her to conceive, she would give her child back to Him.
Sometimes all God is waiting for is for us to make the first move, the first promise, the first step. Once Hannah made this vow to God, scripture says “and the Lord remembered her. After some time, Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son.” 1 Sam 1:19-20 HCSB
Sometimes we have to go through seasons of weeping and crying out to the Lord so that God can bring us to a place of worship. A place where changes can be made. Hannah had to be obedient to the Lord, she could have backed out and told her husband she didn’t want to go to the place of worship because she didn’t want to face her rival, but Hannah knew that there was power in being in the Lord’s presence.
It was in Hannah’s crying that not only changed her life, but changed a generation. What was once Hannah’s weakness now became Hannah’s strength! Just because you have faced hurt, pain, rejection does not mean that God can’t turn it around. All we have to do is keep the faith that at any given moment God can “remember you” and bless you like you’ve never been blessed before.
Now let me point something else out about this story. Hannah was not the only one facing rejection, so was Peni. She was facing rejection from her husband being that she was the second wife, and Elkanah would openly and publicly announce his love for Hannah. I’m sure that this rejection birthed resentment and bitterness, which is probably the reason that Peni would taunt Hannah.
This is a perfect story of two females facing hurt and rejection from man. Hannah went to the Lord, prayed and wept to Him until He heard her cries and saw her faithfulness. Peni did not lay her pain and hurt at the altar, she held it in, which turned her bitter and hateful. We have two women facing the same rejection that resulted in two different outcomes. Which are you going to be?! Hannah?! Or Peninnah?!
Although I primarily relate to Hannah, there is a little bit of Peninnah in me too. I have been treated like Peni, but I still have a heart like Hannah. I have to lay at the altar, trust and believe that God will hear my cries, he will hear my prayers, he will see my sacrifices, and not forget me. I can only hope and pray that, although I may mess up and I may not be where Hannah is when it comes to her enemies taunting her, that the Lord will still see me in my mess and still bless me, because of my faith in Him. And, if I continue to seek him, the pain and hurt will pass, and I will see the one thing that I prayed and wept about to the Lord come to pass.
So, before you get down on yourself, remember that you have a cry that can change your tomorrow!