Fasting Gets God's Attention
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household. Ephesians 2:19
The story of Hannah fascinates me. There is so much to learn in just a few verses. The lessons we can learn from her story are amazing, thought provoking and an example for us to live by. There is no way with my simple writing skills that I can do her character and story justice but bear with me as we spend time and look at a few things that make her story significant.
First, Hannah was the wife of Elkanah, a godly man that loves and cares for her. Her story begins with a grieving heart and a burden that she could no longer carry. Hannah was barren and she was desperate for a child. Without a child she felt her life had no significance. She was being tormented by Elkanah’s second wife, Peninnah, who had children. The torment and ridicule was not just a one-time occurrence. The Bible tells us that Peninnah “provoked her bitterly”. She wanted Hannah to feel inferior and keep her upset, contantly keeping the infertility on her mind. She was trying to prove to Hannah that she was the “better” wife. But Elkanah loved Hannah and comforted her in her sorrow. The problem was, Peninnah didn’t let up. This ridicule happened year after year, as often as she went up to the house of the Lord (1 Samuel 1:7 NASB).
Elkanah was concerned with worshiping God and made sure his family was too. He took his family yearly to the temple. While at the temple, I believe Hannah’s worship was sincere. She loved and trusted God. She was barren but she knew God could change things. What we can learn from Hannah’s story does not start with her fast in 1 Samuel 1. I think Hannah’s story starts way before that. Hannah had multiple opportunities to become bitter and speak harshly with Peninnah because of the ridicule she was receiving. Yet, she did not respond to her tormentor. Instead, she turned to God. This is simply amazing to me. I don’t know if I could hold my tongue after one rude and provoking remark let alone year and year of degrading comments. But the Bible tells us, He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles, Proverbs 21:23. We should strive to be like Hannah.
Year after year Hannah held her tongue. She was trusting God. Hannah wanted to have fruit in her life (in this case a baby) and she didn’t give up. She didn’t blame others for her troubles and she didn’t lash out in anger or rudeness. When we come to her story in 1 Samuel 1 Hannah had reached a place of pure desperation. She had been praying and waiting on God but now her hunger to receive something from God drove her to action. This is where her fast began. She began to weep before the Lord and cry out in hunger for more. God saw her heart and was moved by her sadness and desperation. God answered her prayer.
Bible Reading: 1 Samuel 1:1-18