The Woman Who Cried Out to God

By on July 1, 2014

By Carole Towriss –

Hannah blinked back tears as she packed for their annual trip to Shiloh. Her stomach knotted as she considered the journey with her husband, along with his second wife and her children. Life at home was painful enough with Peninnah’s constant jabs, but at least she could avoid her here. While traveling they’d be together constantly. Then there was the meal after the sacrifice…. But Elkanah loved going. He looked forward to their chance to thank Adonai for the many blessings he had so graciously given them over the last year. How could she refuse him something that brought him such joy?

Elkanah’s second wife flounced into the room. “Hannah, since you’re already packed, could you help Micah? You know, since you don’t have any of your own.” Peninnah smirked and strutted out, leaving the small child behind.

Hannah brushed a rebellious tear from her cheek and knelt before the boy. “Good morning, Micah. Are you excited about going to Shiloh this year?

Micah smiled shyly.

“What’s the best part?” She pushed dark curls from his bright eyes.

“I like seeing all the animals in the pens by the Tabernacle. ‘Specially the sheep.” He giggled. “They have so many! We only have three.” He held up four fingers.

Hannah chuckled as she folded one finger down. “Yes, and we should thank Adonai for them, shouldn’t we?”

Micah nodded vigorously.

“Let’s get your things, then.” She stood and guided him to the room the children—Peninnah’s children—shared, and helped him pack.

Days later, when the sacrifice had been offered, roasted over the fire, and their portion returned to them by the priest, the family sat in the outer courts of the Tabernacle to share the meal of thanksgiving. Elkanah began to hand out portions of the meat as the women passed around fruit and juice, along with the bread and wine that had been blessed.

“Don’t forget this eldest son of mine, husband,” said Penninah.

“Of course not,” murmured Elkanah.

“Oh, and I think you skipped Benjamin.”

“No, my dear, I did not.”

When Elkanah turned to Hannah, he gave her a larger portion, the best cut. He leaned over and kissed her cheek. “Please don’t cry, Hannah,” he whispered.

Hot tears burned her throat. Her stomach constricted as she tried to stuff down the precious meat. She managed to eat it, but it sat like a rock in her stomach.

The meal over, Peninnah began to gather the food and utensils. “Abram, my son, did you get enough to eat? And Benaiah? Matthias? Hannah, did your sons eat well?”

Hannah stood, hand on her stomach. She glanced around. She couldn’t get sick here, not in front of the priests and the other worshippers. She steadied her nerves, then headed toward the Holy Place.

“Elkanah, direct her to help me! She can’t just leave.”

“They’re your sons, as you constantly remind her, several times day. You clean up after them. And leave her alone.”

Hannah approached the curtained door of the sanctuary and knelt, keeping an eye on the old High Priest Eli sitting at the door, keeping guard. Unable to control the tears any longer, she laid her head on the ground and sobbed.

Her tears finally spent, she raised her head. “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on my misery and remember me, give me a son, then I will give him back to you for all the days of his life.” Her lips moved in silent prayer, begging God for the one thing her life lacked.

Eli touched her shoulder. “Woman, you should not be drunk in such a holy place. Go back to your husband.” His whisper was harsh.

Hannah looked at him through blurry eyes. “My lord, I am not drunk, for I barely ate the thanksgiving meal. But I am in anguish, and so I am crying out to my God.”

Eli stared at her for a few moments. Hannah shifted as his eyes peered into her soul. “Go in peace, and I too will pray that the God of Israel will grant your request.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Jewish law tells us that if a man was married for more than ten years without a child, he was required to take a second wife in the hopes of continuing his name. Therefore, it’s a good bet Hannah had been infertile for many, many years, as Elkanah had indeed married again and Peninnah had several sons. This also explains his favoritism for Hannah.

And although 1 Samuel tells us Peninnah tortured Hannah, we never see Hannah fight back. She did, however, become depressed to the point of barely eating. Finally she had enough, and went straight to God. The Hebrew word used for “cried” is sobbed, wept, wailed. She nearly screamed out to God in her pain.

Sometimes we are afraid to be honest with God, to tell Him we are angry or hurt. We think it’s irreverent, or even not allowed. But God already knows every our every thought. He knows our anger and our pain. And He is big enough to absorb it all—and turn it into something beautiful.

In Hannah’s case, he answered her prayer just as she asked. He gave her a son—Samuel, as well as three more sons and two daughters. God doesn’t always answer the way we want. Sometimes he says no. Sometimes he says wait. Sometimes, he says, “I have something better in store.” But always, if we let him have our heart—anger, pain, despair and all—He will heal it.

From the end of the earth will I call unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. ~Psalm 61:2 (ASV)

Carole Towriss grew up in beautiful San Diego, California. Now she and her husband live just north of Washington, DC. In between making tacos and telling her four children to pick up their shoes for the third time, she reads, watches chick flicks, and waits for summertime to return to the beach. You can find out more about her Biblical fiction novels at http://www.caroletowriss.com/.

Carole Towriss

About Carole Towriss

Carole Towriss grew up in beautiful San Diego, California. Now she and her husband live just north of Washington, DC. In between making tacos and telling her four children to pick up their shoes for the third time, she reads, watches chick flicks, and waits for summertime to return to the beach. You can find out more about her Biblical fiction novels at http://www.caroletowriss.com/.

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The Woman Who Cried Out to God