…Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the Lord Almighty at Shiloh,where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the Lord. Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb. 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. Her husband Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”
1 Samuel 1:3-8
So I’ve started reading 1 Samuel and the first chapter really had me thinking about some of the women I know who seem to be holding on to feelings of worthlessness or inadequacy…kind of what Hannah was going through in this chapter. Back in those times, a woman was measured in worth by how many children should could give her husband, so if a woman was barren she was looked upon as basically worthless. Even though her husband Elkanah would give her a double portion of meat from his sacrifice to God, she couldn’t even eat and enjoy it because of her inability to produce children. This is one reason why holding on to worthlessness is dangerous. (it causes us to develop tunnel vision for a blessing we think we should have, thus resulting in a blind eye to the blessings we are already receiving.)
If that wasn’t enough, the other wife Peninnah would constantly taunt Hannah for not producing any children, adding insult to injury. You know women can be oh so petty towards each other. Second reason why it’s dangerous to hold on to worthlessness (The enemy will recognize your feelings of worthlessness and constantly remind you of what you don’t have, adding fuel to its fire. We give him power to strengthen that feeling the longer we continue to hold on to it).
Hannah’s husband loved her dearly, in fact, in those times when you were offered a double portion of meat from a sacrifice it was a symbol of endearment. He didn’t do this for his other wife, but she still felt worthless nevertheless. It had gotten to the point over the years where Elkanah pleaded to Hannah “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” He felt that even though he was going over and beyond for her, her worthless feelings toward herself prevented her from appreciating his offerings at all because it wasn’t what she desired the most. Third reason why it’s dangerous to hold on to worthlessness (it can cause us to take God and his blessings for granted, we won’t appreciate the things he does for us because it’s not that ONE thing our focus is stuck on.)
Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house. 10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 11 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.”As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”“Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.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 Samuel 1:9-20
After years of holding on this terrible feeling she finally decided to let it go and give it to God! She walked in the temple and completely poured her heart out to God, so much so that Eli thought she was drunk. She didn’t care how she looked to whoever seen her, she wanted to get in the face of God because she recognize that’s where she needed to release. All the years of built up frustration and fatigue from carrying around that burden of worthlessness released with a heart felt cry to God…and he heard her! Hannah went home, made love to her husband and became pregnant with a son whom she dedicated back to God before having even more children. She went before God and presented her whole heart, and he blessed her with her request of a child AND then some with more children!
I believe God has things stored for us that exceeds our own desires and requests, but our hearts have no room to receive them because we continue to hold on to feelings of worthlessness deep within us. God wants our whole heart, not a piece of it while other portions are stuck on the things we wished we had, money we wished we made, or that person we wish we were with. Release those burdens to God, go to him and give him all of you in prayer. Prepare your heart and spirit to receive the blessings of God.