In the deep recesses of our hearts there is something we all want. That thing that we want, that we yearn for, that we are fixated on shows who we really are. When we are by ourselves and our minds and our hearts have a minute to dream or wish for “something,” our true character is revealed. That dream for a new car, a new house, or a whole new wardrobe shows our materialistic side. Is that what we dream about in those solitary moments of thought? Maybe it is a better relationship with our kids, our husband, or a friend? It could be a more influential position at work or in the church that we fixate on that will bring about a level of happiness we cannot seem to find in the current position we hold. It seems no matter the walk of life we are in, we always want what we do not have. What happens when we get “it?” The promotion, the new house, or that dream vacation…what happens? We are not satisfied and we want something else.
Hannah (I Samuel 1) wanted a child. She was the favorite wife of Elkanah, and he lavished her with gifts “and he loved her.” (I Samuel 1:5). Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah, had children and she made sure she reminded Hannah of this fact. Peninnah would “provoke Hannah grievously to irritate her” (I Samuel 1:6). This situation would not have made for a very peaceful domesticate life. Scripture does not indicate that Hannah retaliated back to Peninnah by telling her that Elkanah loved her more. Hannah could have done this.
Rather than complain or mock Peninnah in retaliation, Hannah prayed. She went to the only One who could remedy the situation. Hannah’s prayer to the Lord is a testament of her character, her wisdom, and her relationship with God. “And she vowed a vow and said, ‘O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life.’” (I Samuel 1:11). Hannah was willing to give back to God what He gave to her. She realized she was completely dependent on God for this answer to her prayer.
God blessed Hannah with a son, Samuel. Hannah, true to her word gave Samuel back to God and the Lord blessed Hannah with more children. There is a contrast in character between Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah mocked Hannah, and Hannah offered up no retaliation. Hannah realized her dependence on God and went to Him humbly. Her interaction with Eli also showed her humility despite the fact that he falsely accused her of being drunk. She did not retaliate, but out of her humility she responded to Eli.
What do we see in Hannah’s character? She was humble. She took her request to God. She was willing to use that answer to prayer as a testament to God. She willingly gave back to God what He had given to her. When we pray, what is our motivation? Is the answer to the prayer selfish or can we use the answer to the prayer as a testament to what God has done? When we pray and God gives us what we asked, do we glorify Him and tell others what He has done? Or do we selfishly hold onto the answer not willing to be a spokesman for God?
We must be like Hannah and bring our requests to God, and be willing to give the answer back to God. We must do this with an attitude of humility.