I never start my posts with a disclaimer, but I must this time:
Hopers, this post is not a blog about being barren. It’s not a post about waiting to become pregnant. It’s not a post about your options in becoming pregnant. And it’s certainly not a post about your solutions for becoming pregnant.
No, no, no and no.
This post is about the posture of our wait.
So whether you’re waiting for a baby, a new job, a wedding day, a prodigal to return home, a revived marriage, or a scan to read clear, this post is for you.
Because no matter what we’re waiting for, we all have a choice in how we wait. And this is what this post is about; this and only this.
Posture, not pregnancy.
Before I jump into the character sketch of Hannah (the focus of this post), and how she chose to wait, let me give you two other contrasting sketches of barren women who also had a period of waiting in their lives.
Character Sketch #1:
Let’s start with Sarah, the wife of Abraham and the eventual mother of Isaac.
God had promised Abraham that he would become a “father of many nations.” Only problem? He is 100 years old! His wife is 90! And the womb of his wife has never been opened. But God, in all of His desires to “wow” us with His power, loves to use the improbable and impossible to accomplish both His promises and purposes.
So up to this point, how has Sarah handled her barrenness?
She says to Abraham in Genesis 16:2, “Behold, now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.”
Her solution to her problem? Her decision in the wait? Her game-plan after the Lord had already made His promise to Abraham in Genesis 12?
Look to another woman.
Though she may have turned her eyes heavenward during her wait, the Bible only records her gazing at an earthly solution.
And then, when she is finally told she will conceive, how does she respond in Genesis 18:13?
“So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?”
In unbelief, she laughs in the face of God.
Character Sketch #2:
Next, let’s quickly look at Rachel, the wife of Jacob and the eventual mother of Joseph.
Quick recap: Jacob has two wives, Leah and Rachel. Leah is conceiving left and right, and Rachel is living with a closed womb. To be fair to Rachel, this situation is all kinds of messy-hard and yucky-unfair.
So how does Rachel respond after Leah gives birth to their mutual husband’s fourth son?
Genesis 30:1 says, “When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister. She said to Jacob, ‘Give me children, or I shall die!'”
Again, though she may have looked heavenward in the middle of her wait, the Word of God only records her envy and her anger.
Character Sketch #3:
And now, let’s look at Hannah, the wife of Elkanah and the eventual mother of Samuel.
When we come to 1 Samuel 1:2, what is the situation of Hannah?
“He [Elkanah] had two wives. The name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.”
Again, we find another situation where one woman is having babies, and the other is not.
And why is Hannah not having babies? 1 Samuel 1:5 says, “…the Lord had closed her womb.”
Hannah is waiting because the Lord has decided she will wait.
And to make matters worse, we find that Peninnah is making the situation a bazillion times harder because in 1 Samuel 1:6-7 reads, “And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her.”
Did you catch that?
The baby-bearing mama is poking fun, intentionally trying to hurt Hannah and wield the fruit of her womb as a sword of nastiness. Truly, as I read this passage, I wanted to grab the neck of Peninnah and squeeze with holy hardness. This woman was a bona fide JERK!
So here is Hannah waiting on a baby while her husband’s other wife is both birthing and jeering. Talk about a sucky wait!
And how does Hannah respond?
1 Samuel 1:10 says, “She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, ‘O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life…'”
Hoper, Hannah isn’t hiding her feelings or suppressing her desires. She isn’t responding in envy or in anger. She isn’t laughing, and she isn’t unbelieving. She isn’t shaking her fist or her husband. And she isn’t looking for an earthly end to her painful wait. No, Hannah is laying both her tears and her desires on the altar. Bowing before the Lord of hosts, she uses a very an important word when she cries out in anguished prayer (a small word that can be easily unseen if we aren’t looking or possibly overlooked if we don’t want to see it).
She prays, “…if you will…”
Not only is she bowing her head, but she is bowing her will.
She doesn’t whine at Him, accuse Him, or even demand from Him. In the middle of her wearisome wait, she asks for the Lord to have a say, and she relentlessly pursues His response.
“I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord” is the response she gives the priest when he questions the silent moving of her repeated petitions in 1:15.
And when does the Lord act on her behalf?
It says in 1:20, “And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son…”
And what does due time mean?
When it’s mature, when it’s the proper season, and when it’s the appointed time. In short, due time is when God sets the date.
And when the Lord decides to act, knowing the “yes” is her “best” and the timing is perfectly ripe, she responds by naming the child, Samuel, for she said in 1:20, “I have asked for him from the Lord.”
She recognizes that the solution… the answer… came from the Lord.
The answer didn’t come from her. It didn’t come from her husband. It didn’t come from another woman. It came from the Lord of Hosts.
Hopers, can I suggest (without any hint of trite condescension or assumed ease) that in the middle of our WAITS, we wait with a Hannah Posture? Can we honestly pray this prayer together today?
Oh, Lord, let us acknowledge our hurt and grieve our hard in the presence of your watchful eye…
Let us turn our hearts toward you in the midst of our weary waiting…
Let us believe in your all-powerful, omnipotence to end the wait…
Let us trust in your all-knowing, omniscience to provide the solution…
Let us rest in your never-late, always-perfect timing…
And let us pray with our eyes up and our wills bent.