16 October 2013

Dealing with a Bully (Hannah's Story, Day 16)

 Elkanah loved his wife Hannah, but try as he might, he could not protect her from the mean and bitter bully who traced her every step and mocked her mercilessly.  Hannah grew more weary of the taunts every day, but really had nowhere to turn for comfort because her bully was a member of her own home, her husband's other wife.

Like so many broken shells in the sand, Hannah's hopes and dreams had been pounded, washed high onto the sand where no refreshing water could revive them.

She reached the breaking point on a day that should have been full of family joy and celebration.  They feasted in Jerusalem during the year's religious high point, and although Elkanah honored Hannah by a double portion at the feast, her turmoil could no longer be kept inside.  Sobbing, she refused to eat.

"Hannah," asked Elkanah, "why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? am I not better to thee than ten sons?"  1 Samuel 1:8

It must have pained him beyond words to know his decision to take a second wife was making the wife he loved miserable.  What a price to pay to keep up with society and have an heir!  (See the notes in this amazing commentary.)

If I were Hannah, I would have been all too likely to snap at my husband.  I would have been all too likely to use that moment to let him know exactly what I thought of sharing him, of being bullied every day of my life.

But not Hannah.

Hannah says nothing, because the burden she has borne for years is one not even her husband who has probably already seen his mistake and tried to do everything possible to make her life better can help her to bear.  Hannah does not retaliate in any way against her husband, or against Penninah.

She quietly, patiently, endures every test, and when she can persevere no more, she runs to the great Jehovah.

Such a contrast from the way Sarah spoke with Abraham after she suggested he take another woman!  Such a contrast from the sharp competition between Jacob's four women!

No, Hannah doesn't take her pain and suffering out on any other human being.  Neither do any of the bully's taunts or threats shake her faith.  She doesn't self medicate on alcohol, drugs, or any other secret sins.  

When so many of us--me included--would be tempted to believe we had been abandoned by the Lord, Hannah simply pleads with the Lord as her only hope.  She finds relief in the mere pleading.  When He answers YES, she dedicates her son's entire life to God's service.  

All the glory and all the boy's days past weaning go to the Lord, who has upheld her and walked with her the whole way.

She brings the boy to Eli to serve in the temple, and her once silently moving lips speak a loud song of praise.  It's a unique song, in that she not only thanks God for the gift he gave in the little boy she's turning over to Him, but she also calls all the wicked (even her specific opponent in the home) to remember that God sees everything.  He will judge.  He will uphold the righteous.

God doesn't stop at one gift.  After Samuel is born, Hannah has four or five more children, both sons and daughters.

Think for a minute what would have happened if Hannah, in her great turmoil and pain, had not turned to her God.  Israel could have missed out on Samuel's godly leadership.  The world would have missed out on the legacy of ready service and open ears he showed for the Lord from an early age--traits that have encouraged countless other workers in God's service in the centuries since.

 What blessing the world has experienced because Hannah kept the faith!

Are there places in our lives today where we could have more patient endurance, more meekness, more trust in God alone?  Are there things you've tried to pour out to human beings, looking for a solution, only to find the same emptiness you started with?

Maybe there's a hole in your life only God can fill.  It's time to let Him fill it.  Decide, like Hannah did, that no one but Jesus can help, and then let Him work out of your broken life blessing that may indeed stretch the world over, just like He did for Hannah.

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1 comment:

  1. Really nice tie today between the photo and the message. Also really liked the comparison between Hannah and Sarah.


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