Hannah’s Valley Of Despair was deep and long. Daily she struggled with the feeling that she would never get beyond her valley of despair. Her heartbreak was an empty womb. No valley is so deep we can’t survive if we trust in a loving Heavenly Father.
Hannah lived in earshot of the second-wife, Peninnah’s children, which only added to her despair. Peninnah endlessly baited and mocked Hannah.
Vow To God
Hannah’s husband, Elkanah exacerbated the situation. He favoured Hannah above the second wife, Peninnah. He gave Hannah double the amount of gifts he gave Peninnah. Life for Hannah was a deep valley of despair.
Hannah pleaded with God to give her a child. She vowed she would gift that child back to the service of God. During one of her annual visits to the Temple, she poured her heart out to Eli, the priest. His reply was simple, “Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thy petition you have asked of Him.”
Hannah’s heart filled with an inexplicable peace, although her valley of despair was still deep. She was confident that God would answer her prayers.
The Miracle In Hannah’s Valley Of Despair
Then came the miracle. Hannah gave birth to a beautiful, bouncing baby boy. Her husband could now claim her child as his heir.
Hannah would not accompany her husband to the Temple until she had weaned her child. This process could last around 7 years. In that time she could delight herself in the joy of tending to her child. Yet, Hannah never revoked her promise to give her son to the service of God.
Bittersweet Joy In Hannah’s Valley Of Despair
Weaning the child was a time of grand celebration with everyone invited to a massive feast. For Hannah, it was the sounding of doom. No longer could she put off handing her child to the priests. It was time for Samuel to begin his service to God, at the Temple. Samuel had never been to Jerusalem, so the priests were complete strangers to him.
Hannah’s valley of despair was on a rollercoaster ride of chaotic feelings of both blessing and heartache. God had answered her prayer. She loved her son, but she had to face giving him up. A deep abiding bond grows between a child and its mother. Hannah had to give away the one thing she had yearned for.
Deep Love Of God
Hannah instilled a deep love of Yahweh in the boy. A love of God that remained with Samuel throughout his life.
In the seven years, Peninnah had swung between doubt and hope. Would the favoured wife give Samuel away, or would she renege on her promise to God? Peninnah’s jealousy ran deep.
A Different Valley Of Despair
Elkanah’s love for Hannah allowed Hannah to honour her promise to God. Now, Hannah’s valley of despair took on a different aspect. Elkanah too had formed a bond with Samuel, but he could not share the depths of Hanna’s heartache.
No mother happily hands over a much-loved child into the care of others. Hannah would only see her son when she went to the Temple, two or three times a year.
Hannah’s heartbreak, as she returned to an empty room, would have been devastating. Is it better to have loved and lost or never have loved at all? How many ways can the heart break?
Peninnah Reigns Supreme
Once more, Peninnah and her children reigned supreme. Penninah’s taunts continued, as her hatred of Hannah ran deep. Something also plagued Hannah; anxiety for her son. She took Samuel a new coat each year.
The visits to the Temple were their own kind of bittersweet joy. Hannah would eagerly anticipate them, until they become a cherished memory. Hannah could never reveal to her son that she had any doubt or regrets about the decision she had made.
Gracious By Name And Nature
Hannah was gracious by name and by nature. Her devotion to Yahweh and her serenity impacted on Samuel. He became the greatest of all Israel’s judges.
Did Samuel feel devastated and abandoned by his mother? She had made a sacrifice that Samuel would only understand as time passed.
Greatest Judge Of All
Hannah’s heart swelled with pride as she watched Samuel grow into the most powerful voice in the nation. She believed she had made the right choice.
Samuel became the last of Israel’s judges, but also the greatest. He called the people back to the true worship of Yahweh. Hannah would always know she had impacted Samuel’s life.
She had kept her promise to God. Hannah was blessed with three more sons and two daughters. Though, Samuel always held a special place in her heart.
Peninnah disappeared into oblivion, remembered only for her unrelenting cruelty to Hannah.
Who can comprehend the sacrifice Hannah made? A father’s bond with his children differs from that of a mother. There can never be a complete healing when a child is parted from its mother. Only a gentle dimming as time passes.
Hannah’s voice shows us that amid heartache and chaos, there is always a place to stand steadfast and remain faithful to God. While your valley of despair causes you to weep, there can also be a deep, immovable inner place of serenity. There is nothing to compare with keeping faith with a loving heavenly Father. David did the same in his canyon of despair.
A Mother’s Influence
We should never underestimate a mother’s influence on those around her. We catch more than we are taught.
Hannah’s voice tells us to never quit, despite how rough the going is. Yesterday is past and tomorrow may never come. There is always promise in today. Each woman’s voice is unique in her sphere of influence. Just as Rahab’s actions saved her entire family, and Esther saved her people.
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