Hearing God’s Voice and Obeying in Our Sorrows

We have to dedicate the darkest places of our lives to God’s miraculous power.

A 19th century poem by William Ross Wallace asserts, “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.” He must have been thinking about the story of Hannah and Samuel in 1 Samuel when he wrote that.

Hannah was a barren woman who longed to have children. She cried to God in her sorrows. God wants to meet us in our sorrows.

Maybe you feel “small” today in your life. Maybe the circumstances of your life are huge and overwhelming. Good! God’s about to do something through you that will amaze you. I pray you allow Hannah’s life to inspire you.

We meet Hannah for the first time in 1 Samuel 1:2. She is described as, “Hannah who had no children.” She was known by her sorrow.

The Bible tells us in 1 Samuel 1:3 that Hannah’s husband would go up to the city every year to worship God and give thanks to God for his goodness and blessings to them. Because Hannah was barren, her husband had taken another wife in order to have children. This was a common practice in that day similar to surrogacy today. However, her surrogate often tormented her that she could not have children. It was a painful visit for Hannah to go and worship the Lord and give thanks in the midst of her sorrows.

The Bible tells us in 1 Samuel 1:6 that Hannah couldn’t have children because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb. It is very difficult to give glory to God when God is the source of your greatest sorrow.

You are supposed to be giving glory to God today for his goodness to you and all you can think about is the blessing God has withheld from you. This is truly the dilemma of life.

Maybe you find yourself there today. I know I have been there. What do you do? These next seven words are crushing to a spirit that is already struggling. 1 Samuel 1:7 says, “So it went on year by year.”

Not only was she barren at a festival in the presence of her rival, where she was supposed to give glory to God for his blessings, but it went on year after year.

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I find that a lot of people stop showing up for church for this very reason. They are tired of seeing God bless others before them. Can you relate? You are happy for them, but you want to say to the Lord, Where’s my blessing, Lord?

It is important in these seasons that we keep leaning into God in the midst of our sorrows.

Hannah’s pain was great, ongoing and unrelenting.

In the midst of Hannah’s hopelessness, she kept inviting God into these dark and hopeless spaces. She does this in 1 Samuel 1:11 when she said to God, “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 remember as a kid my mom telling me she prayed this prayer over me when I was two years old, sick and dying in a hospital bed in Louisville, Kentucky. My parents were told there was no hope for me to live. My mom knelt by my bed and prayed this prayer that Hannah prayed. I didn’t miraculously get up out of the bed that day, but I started getting better from that day forward.

If you and I are going to hear and obey God in our sorrows, we have to dedicate the darkest places of our lives to God’s miraculous power.

Hannah stays after it. Hannah says to Eli the Priest in 1 Samuel 1:15–16, “I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.”

I love Eli’s response to Hannah, 1 Samuel 1:17, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” I love Hannah’s response to Eli’s in 1 Samuel 1:18, “‘Let your servant find favor in your eyes.’ Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.”

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Can you say that and do that? If so, we should follow Hannah’s example. The next day 1 Samuel 1:19 tells us, “She rose early in the morning and worshipped before the Lord.”

Hannah didn’t allow her pain to define her practice of worship.

The Bible tells us in 1 Samuel 1:20 that in due time God gave Hannah a son. She named him Samuel because that means “I asked for him from the Lord.” She wanted Samuel to know he was from the Lord. The loudest human voice in my head is my mom’s voice. She told me the story of my life when I was too young to remember it. She told me how God blessed my life and saved me. But the blessing wasn’t the end of the story. She reminded me of God’s faithfulness to me and she told me of God’s purpose for me.

God doesn’t bless us so we can be blessed. He blesses us so we can live out his purpose for our existence.

Do you see the blessings of God as your means to fulfill your purpose?

After Hannah weaned Samuel, she took him back to the house of God where God heard her cry and answered her. She said to God in 1 Samuel 1:28, “As long as Samuel lives, he is lent to the Lord.”

My mom went to heaven 29 years ago, but her dedication of me to God like Hannah did Samuel, still carries great weight and fulfillment through my life and ministry today.

Keep obeying God’s voice in your life. Dedicate your sorrows to God like Hannah, and in due time, he will fulfill his eternal purpose through it.

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