Trading Bitterness for Thankfulness
Posted in Gratitude/Thankfulness
“Then Hannah prayed and said: ‘My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in Your deliverance. There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides You; there is no Rock like our God.”
(Hannah’s Prayer) 1 Samuel 2:1-2
Hannah was the wife of Elkanah. As was often the case in ancient Israel, Elkanah had a second wife, Peninnah, who bore him many children. Hannah was unable to have children, but was deeply loved by Elkanah. This led to constant ridicule from Peninnah, who tormented Hannah mercilessly.
Each year the family went to Shiloh to pray and make sacrifices to the Lord. Each year Peninnah would use this opportunity to provoke Hannah, who would continue to respond with grace. One year the abuse was more than she could bear alone, so Hannah went to the temple to pray. She prayed to the Lord to bless her with a child and promised that if the Lord gave her a child, she would give it back to Him. She was praying with such fervor that Eli, the high priest, thought she was drunk. She explained that she was not drunk but was distraught and praying out of her anguish and grief. Eli prayed on her behalf, and the Lord answered and gave Hannah a son.
She named her son Samuel and indeed gave him back to the Lord to be raised as a Nazarite by Eli. Samuel grew up to become the last and greatest of the Judges of Israel. The Lord continued to bless Hannah by giving her three more sons and two daughters.
Hannah’s story is told in just two chapters of 1 Samuel, but hers is a powerful testimony of thanksgiving that only comes through amazing love, trust, and faith in the Lord. It would have been easy for Hannah to be bitter, angry, and jealous of Peninnah or to lash out in frustration at Elkanah. She could have rebuked Eli for his assumption that she was drunk, but instead she repaid hostility with grace and went to the Lord with thankfulness.
It is easy to be thankful during bountiful times. The challenge is during those times when God’s plan is different from our plan. When the Penniahs in our lives are at their most acerbic, can we be truly thankful to the God who knit us in wombs, who numbered every hair on our heads, and who loves us beyond human understanding?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the many ways you bless our lives. In this season as we unite our hearts in praise and thanksgiving, help us remember Hannah and her example of grace and thankfulness. We ask this prayer in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Submitted by Paul Eaddy