Lonely and Empty
November 3, 2018 // Living Waters Ministry
I wonder what Hannah was feeling in 1 Samuel. No doubt as the story begins she was lonely and empty. She was probably wondering daily, “what is my purpose; when will it be my turn”? Her barren situation no doubt was made worse by the ever-present sister wife who had many children and rubbed that fact in her face continually. Her husband’s well-meaning words of “aren’t I better than several children” probably didn’t help matters much either. Hannah was barren; she was empty in her arms and in her heart.
One thing Hannah either already knew or grew to learn in that barren, empty, ostracized, lonely state was that there was no where else to turn but to the Lord. I’m sure her heart cried out to God many times during the day over the years. But this particular day her heart so heavy, the longing so great she must have felt she could burst. And there at the temple, mid-day as she cried out to God, she promised to give her first-born child to serve God. So desperate, she was accused of being drunk as she earnestly prayed. Why would she promise to give the child she so desperately wanted away, even to serve God? How is that a solution to her prayer of wanting a child? Was she so desperate or finally relinquishing her own desire to raise a child and let God have control? The Lord did open Hannah’s womb and she conceived after this prayer. She had promised God that if He would open her womb, she would give the gift of a child back to serve the Lord. And thus, Samuel was born, her first child after many desperate years of prayer and emptiness. Her lonely, empty barren days had seemingly come to an end.
But how she must have dreaded the day she would leave him at the temple. Had Hannah contemplated as Samuel grew, “did I really say that, maybe I was drunk”. “Does God really want me to give Samuel up?” She did decline returning to the temple until the child was old enough to be weaned. Was her heart heavy with knowing what the future held as she clung to each moment she had with him or was she peacefully at rest? How could she leave him at the Temple with the priest and his well-known immoral sons? Can a mother forget her child? Surely Hannah could only stay the course with faith, purpose, complete trust and obedience to a faithful God.
I wonder if in the short time Hannah had with Samuel, she taught him about crying out and trusting God in the lonely empty times knowing Samuel would be alone as a boy in the Temple. I wonder if she had assured Him that God would be present and faithful in his every circumstance. I wonder if she taught him not to be bitter but trust. I wonder if she had told him don’t give up on God because God’s timing is perfect. The story in 1 Samuel tells us that the young boy Samuel was awake serving the Lord one night while the priest Eli slept. Samuel was alone and available to hear the voice of God and obey when God called his name.
In the Book of Ruth, Naomi, is another example of a woman who was suffering through trials. Naomi’s sons and husband had died and she felt alone and empty in a foreign land. It is easy to dwell in the land of bitterness and hopelessness when circumstances are bitter. Naomi chose in her suffering to take steps back toward her God and homeland. When she arrived Naomi said to her friends, “call me bitter for the Lord has dealt harshly with me”. Naomi found renewed hope in the Lord as she experienced His faithful provision and protection. Both Hannah and Naomi are testimonies of women who cried out to God in their pain and sorrow. These women of the Old Testament felt alone and forgotten but they took the steps of faith in their painful circumstances to pursue God and see His faithfulness.
Hannah took Samuel to the Temple and left him there before the Lord. Have you experienced “having to let go” of the very thing you desired above all else and lay it before God? Has surrendering to the Lord the thing that you thought should just be a given in life taken place? Are you learning to walk in faith joyfully trusting the Lord in your circumstance? Is it difficult when the circumstances feel like they are rubbed in your face with what you don’t have? Have lonely and empty been your companions? What circumstances have caused you to realize that turning and crying out to the Lord is the only thing that satisfies the longings of your soul? Can you see the kindness and love of the Lord drawing you to Himself? Hannah’s example shows that with God’s help we can make a hard choice and lay our feelings, wants, desires, challenges and pain before the Lord and trust Him.
God had not forgotten Naomi, or Hannah. God has not forgotten you in your circumstances. Sorrow and trials will come in this life. Just as the testimony of Naomi and Hannah’s sorrow lead them to prayer and obedience that can be our testimony as well. Neither woman knew God’s future plan or the outcome of the sorrowful time when they turned to Him. Through God’s Word we know the rest of the story. Naomi’s grandson was the grandfather of King David. Hannah’s Samuel was the priest that obeyed God and anointed King David who is the lineage of Christ.
God uses our circumstances to usher in His Son Jesus Christ and His kingdom into our lives to set us free. Take the step of faith to pursue and know Him personally.
Whom the Son sets free is free indeed!
Written by Lydia Goode
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