By Kelly Wise Valdes
Throughout the Bible, there are many stories of strong and heroic women. In this series, we will explore a story of faithful biblical woman each month. With their strong faith, the women of the Bible continue to teach us how to live authentic, faith-filled lives. No matter what our circumstances are, we can find ourselves in their stories.
The Book of Samuel tells us of a young woman named Hannah who was married to a man called Elkanah. They were very much in love; however, Hannah was infertile. It is speculated that because Hannah was unable to have children, Elkanah took another wife at Hannah’s request. At the time, this was a common practice. He loved Hannah more than his other wife, Peninnah, but Peninnah was remarkably fertile and gave birth to several sons and daughters.
Elkanah was deeply in love with his barren wife Hannah, instead of the fertile Peninnah. Peninnah hoped that her ability to provide children for her husband would make him love her more than Hannah. This caused substantial grief for both women. One wife was barren and wanted children and one wife fertile and wanted love.
One can sympathize with their pain. Instead of comforting each other, Peninnah’s jealousy caused her to torment Hannah, constantly mocking Hannah’s inability to become pregnant. This went on for years. However, Hannah demonstrated grace and dignity by holding her tongue and continued to pray for a child.
One day, Hannah visited the temple and was in such distress that she mouthed her prayer silently and was seen by the priest, Eli. When he approached her, she explained that she was praying for a child, and she promised God that if he gave her a son, she would dedicate him to the priest.
God honored her diligence and patience, and Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son, Samuel. She kept him until he was weaned at about three years old. When the time came, she took him to the temple, just as she had promised, and dedicated him to God’s service in a special ceremony. Even at this stage, she could have redeemed her vow by paying a sum of money to the priests, but she kept her vow.
Hannah continued to visit Samuel as he grew into a man of God. She was blessed with more children: three sons and two daughters. The Bible bears no more mention of Peninnah.
Before Hannah, three other women endured the despair of not being able to conceive. Sarah was the first, followed by Rebekah and then Rachel. However, Hannah accepted God’s promise with unwavering faith. The other three did not.
Hannah trusted God without doubt or concern. Hannah’s story teaches us that our faith in God allows Him to bless us. Her trust in God as she turned to Him, her deep desire for children and her faithfulness in bringing Samuel to God as promised are all evidences of God working in Hannah’s life.
Every person experiences circumstances that cause grief. Many times, we simply don’t understand why the desire of our hearts is not met. But in the life of Hannah we see that God knows our hearts, that everything has a purpose and that trust in Him is never misplaced.