When we have faith in our Lord, we are to remember that the power does not come from our faith, but from our mighty God. “Yet he (Abraham) did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” (Romans 4:20-21)
The Bible contains stories of people who faced seemingly impossible situations. Yet time and time again, God’s people exhibited a strong faith. A woman who exhibited a strong faith, is Hannah (1 Samuel 1). Hannah was barren. She couldn’t have any children. In fact, the reason she couldn’t have any children is because God Himself had closed her womb (1 Samuel 1: 5). There wasn’t simply a biological limitation in Hannah’s life. There was a spiritual reason and God’s doing behind her physical reality.
Hannah lived in a culture where a woman’s identity was often closely linked, if not entirely linked, to her ability to bear children. People around Hannah made fun of her. They put her down. One woman in particular disturbed Hannah the most. This was Peninnah. She was also a wife of Hannah’s husband, Elkanah.
Hannah’s rival wife, Peninnah, taunted her cruelly, rubbing it in and never letting her forget that God had not given her children. “Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. 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.” (1 Sam. 1: 6– 7)
As a result, Hannah turned to God. Crushed in soul, Hannah prayed to God and cried and cried— inconsolably. “In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, ‘Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.’” (1 Sam. 1:10-11)
In a situation she could not fix, Hannah asked God to reverse the way things had been all of her adult life. Hannah approached her physical problem spiritually. Just like Linda who understood that the storm had less to do with the clouds in the air than it had to do with God’s ability to hold back those clouds (see The Power of Faith), Hannah sought her relief and assistance from the only One who could bring it. She sought out a spiritual solution to a physical need.
When Hannah sought God as the solution to her problem, she placed her faith in Him. In fact, she went a step beyond that. She told God that if He would give her a son, then she would give that same son back to serve Him in the temple all the days of his life. She looked to God as the answer and sought to honor Him in the process.
The Scripture says, “Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, ‘Because I asked the Lord for him.’” (1 Sam. 1:19– 20)
Hannah kept her word after giving birth to Samuel. She gave him to the Lord for service in the temple. The son whom she had prayed for all of those years was given back to God, just as she said she would do. But what is interesting is that after Hannah gave to God the very thing that she wanted all along— her child— He in turn gave her a home full of children. In 1 Samuel 2, we discover that not only did Hannah give birth to Samuel, but she also went on to give birth to three more sons and two daughters (verse 2: 21). Not only did God respond to Hannah’s faith by answering her prayer, but He also went beyond her request to fill her home with five children. He honored her act of faith in giving Samuel back to Him.
Hannah gave the Lord her first-born son, and he filled her home with children. Everything we have belongs to our Lord God, including our wealth, family and our skills. Although the following verse is normally used to describe our money, I believe we can extend it to all that we have, and certainly in Hannah’s case that was children. “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.” (Prov 3:9-10)