Are you hungry or desperate? I would like to tell you a story of victory - it's a story about breakthrough - it's a story of new life - it's a story of deliverance - it's a story about a changed life - it's about intercession, it's about obedience, it's about the privilege of being used by God in his plans and purposes. It's about how God intervened in an ordinary woman's life. It's exciting! Let me tell you about Hannah… As we read- see how God does something new in Hannah- something remarkable that we can treasure in our everyday life! Go with me to 1 Samuel 1:1-28 in the Amplified Hannah name means “grace” or “favour”. She was a remarkable woman but she wasn't always remarkable. She was depressed, despondent, and downcast. We read that Elkanah Hannah’s husband had two wives: Peninnah who had 10 children and Hannah who had none. It's probable that Elkanah married Hannah first, but because she had no children he married Peninnah who gave him many children. In these times we're reading about, to be childless was considered a kind of disgrace, it was reason to feel ashamed, she might have asked several times- is there something wrong with me that God had closed my womb? She would have felt a failure as a woman, as a wife, particularly as Peninnah, had many children. Hannah was miserable. Barrenness tests faith in God, The pain of infertility is in the stories of the barren women in the Bible: Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Hannah, and Samson's mother. But what was so different in the case of Hanna? Hannah is the only woman and the only petitioner who prays in a shrine, of course, but she also approaches God differently. She is the only one to make a vow, and she is most humble of the three. A longing of the heart denied can cause much pain. We learn that waiting for things is not a curse! Delay is not denial! Tell your neighbour- Delay is not denial
But although she had no children, Elkanah loved her more than Peninnah. It wasn't enough for Hannah On top of all that, because Peninnah was so jealous that Elkanah loved Hannah more than her, she provoked Hannah, and taunted her, so that Hannah would weep and would not eat. It was the more disappointing because they were there to worship God Shiloh was the place God had commanded his people to worship - they were forbidden to worship elsewhere. It was not the time or place for quarrelling or rivalry. It must of sounded something like: "Hannah, you haven't eaten in days," her husband Elkanah said gently. "You need nourishment." Her rival shot her a menacing look. "Maybe that's why she's barren. She's too skinny." "Hush, Pen," Elk said. "Leave her alone." Peninnah glared at Hannah. "Sure, I'll leave her alone. Just like the Lord has." Mark the Occasion – The adversary attacked when Hannah was trying to worship the Lord. The Scriptures tell us that year by year as Hannah went to the house of the Lord to worship, that was when the adversary attacked her and broke her. I wonder how many years this was going on – it was long enough for Hannah to become depressed - she was weeping - it affected her relationship with her husband – while others thought that Hannah was being punished – God was actually preparing a great blessing for her. How long have you been in despair - how long have you been depressed? How long has that difficult situation been going on? How long have people being thinking that you are being punished- while God might be preparing you for an enormous blessing. This isn't just about overcoming depression or despair. Hannah was so desperate for God. We can be desperate about many things - maybe you've been yearning for the Lord to do something new in you, yearning for something more in your Christian life - maybe you feel stale, stuck in a rut, you want to feel the excitement you once knew. Maybe it's been going on for years - you're fed up going through the motions. Maybe you're longing for him to show you visions, to prophesy, to move in words of knowledge. Maybe you want him to give you a new
ministry, to shake you up, to do something dynamic in your life. Maybe you've got such a desire in you to get closer to him, to be more intimate with him, to go deeper in worship. Maybe you don't know what you want maybe you're simply hungry and thirsty. I wonder, has the cry of your heart been, "How much longer Lord?" In verse 9 of our passage we read a very significant phrase - only 3 words - it says "Hannah stood up". Three little words, but they say such a lot. It says that eventually Hannah couldn't take any more - she made a decision to do something about her situation. She said, enough is enough. This was a breakthrough for Hannah -- she stood up - she rose up above her circumstances - she took a step. Tell your neighbour- Iâ€™ve had enough-I am standing up! Instead of staying in her despair, in her circumstances, she stood up and decided to pray to the Lord and with that came release from all the pentup bitterness. With many tears she poured her heart out, v15 "I was pouring out my soul to the Lord." Only she could do it. Maybe you need to experience a breakthrough today - only you can decide to get up out of your situation and focus on Jesus. We need to press on in prayer until we reach a place of breakthrough and of peace. So distraught was she that Eli thought she was drunk and rebuked her. When we deeply pray from a sincere heart it touches God's heart as He sees the depth of our desire, our burden. Sometimes we feel misunderstood and that we're being accused wrongly. We would do well to follow Hannah's example here - she respectfully and quietly explained herself. She was so focussed on Her Maker that she did not in any way allow an offence to settle in heart about this encounter with Eli. Hannah spoke up - she was quite bold - Eli was a priest who spent his whole life ministering before the Lord. It would have been quite unusual for a woman to correct a man, particularly a man of his status - she addressed him "my Lord". Realising he'd judged her wrongly, he then said to her, "Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him." Hannah then went on her way and ate something and her face was no longer downcast.
Something changed in Hannah’s heart before the child came. She believed God before she saw the result. It takes a woman of faith to say Thank You Jesus while there is nothing to be grateful about. Hannah is the only woman whose prayer to God is recorded in the Bible, Hannah was the first to give God the name Zeba'oth, "Lord of Hosts." Hannah was considered a prophetess because her song foretold, the fall of the house of Saul and the rise of the house of David Lev.19 Having spent time in prayer and unburdening herself to the Lord, receiving peace and a blessing - she even looked different - her face was no longer downcast. Hannah came to the end of herself and realised that only God could give her her heart's desire. Hannah's silence to make the point that God will hear and respond to the humblest petitioners and the quietest voices. This proves that Jehovah El Roi is the all seeing – all hearing God. She made a vow that if God gave her a son then she would give him to the Lord for the rest of his life. This was not a vow taken lightly - it would cost her dearly - let's be serious when we make a vow or promise to the Lord, to see it through. God granted Hannah a son. She named him Samuel, saying, "Because I asked the Lord for him". Samuel sounds like the Hebrew for "heard of God". In her prayer in chapter 2 Hannah says, "for the Lord is a God who knows". Hannah was quick to praise and glorify God for this answer to her prayer. Many of us here are quick to make empty promised to God- but we don’t keep them. Let's be quick to praise and glorify God for all that he does in our lives. V21-28: Hannah kept her son until he was weaned, probably about 3 years old - it was usual for women to breastfeed their children until they were 3 in those days, when it was felt they could be entrusted to others. Hannah only had a short time to train her son before he would live apart from her- during this short time she had to teach him everything she could about loving and serving God, a daunting task for a mother… After he was weaned she took him with her to Shiloh because she'd made a vow before God. She then gave her very best to God. Samuel became her firstfruit offering. Her only son… She had to let him go. She took Samuel to Eli - how hard it must have been for her to leave him, such a small child, but she'd made a vow and had to be obedient. There is a cost to obedience. The result of Hannah's obedience - her heart rejoiced, she praised God even though she'd left Samuel, not knowing at that time whether she
would have any more children. She testifies about her answered prayer, she praised the Lord while she had not guarantee that she will ever have more children… Hannah knew that if we truly believe it is God who gives the increase, we ourselves are really nothing! It almost doesn’t matter what step we take when it is taken out of a pure heart and desire to bring God’s glory into our situation. What matters is the pure heart, the faith and the action… Every year Hannah would go to the annual sacrifice at Shiloh and take Samuel a little robe. Eli blessed Elkanah and Hannah and prayed she would have more children, "the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters." This shows that God has a perfect timetable for the events of our lives. Hannah not only forgives her rival co-wife, Peninnah (mother of ten children) but Hebrew history suggests that whenever Hannah gave birth to a child, Peninnah would be burying two of her children. ... Hence when Hannah was pregnant with her fifth child, Peninnah was afraid that she would have to bury the two children that remained to her. ... She went and besought Hannah, saying to her: "I beseech you, humbling myself before you. I know that I have sinned against you. But be more forbearing than I deserve, so that the two children who remain to me will stay alive." What happened to Samuel? He stayed and ministered before the Lord under Eli - God called him and he became a prophet to all Israel. God's purposes were worked out through Hannah. She could have continued in despair as she had for many years. But she stood up - she rose above her circumstances and made a decision to seek the Lord - to pour it all out to him - to ask him for the impossible. How long had she been childless? How long have you been in your circumstances that cause you despair? You need to seek the lord, surrender to him, allow your desperation to show . Eli thought Hannah was drunk. Pour it out to him. Receive his peace. Trust him for the solution. v18 "Her face was no longer downcast". The story of Hannah is an inspiring one for anyone who desires to bring Godly change to an impossible situation. Are you willing to stand up like Hannah did and pour out your heart to him and ask him for what you need? My question to you today is- Are you truly desperate for God?
Maybe you came here tonight and you are not desperate for God- maybe God is one of the things in your life- but He has not become the only thing. You know that Jesus is not in His rightful position in your heart. I want to assure you when you seek God, the creator of all things- when you make God your hearts delight He will give you your hearts desire. When you seek the creator and not the created… Are you willing to pour out your heart before God and not worry what people will say. Are desperate enough for a touch from heaven that you will lay aside yourself and give your life to Jesus Christ? Please rise up for prayer We come the bloodstained way Lord Holy Spirit of Humility- We repent of our pride Lord. We pray that you forgive us for being so focussed on what other people will think and say – that we don’t focus on you Jesus. We thank you for enlightening our eyes – to see and understand tonight that we must get to a place that we are desperate for you Lord. That You become our all consuming God. That we will come to a place where we can pour out our hearts before you Lord and trust in You with all we have. Holy Spirit of love- help us to be desperate for Jesus. Grant unto us the Grace and the Spirit of a humble and a faithful servant Create in me a pure heart and a contrite spirit