Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and I preached a sermon from 1st Samuel 1:1-28. In that chapter, we find the wonderful story of Hannah, the mother of Samuel. Samuel would, of course, grow up to be one of Israel’s greatest leaders.
As the story opens up, Hannah is barren. She has a husband, Elkanah, who loves her very much, but she cannot give him children. Perhaps this is why he has a second wife. Her name is Peninnah, and she and Elkanah do have children. But as is typical in Old Testament stories in which the man has more than one wife, there is jealousy and rivalry between the wives. Because Peninnah knows that Elkanah loves Hannah more than her, she takes great delight in verbally abusing Hannah concerning her barrenness. 1 Samuel 1:6 says of Hannah:
And her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb.
These cruel words are even thrown around during the family’s annual trips to Shiloh to worship and offer sacrifices at the Tabernacle, Israel’s central place of worship in those days. 1 Samuel 1:7 says:
So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat.
Now, this wasn’t the first time that I had used the story of Hannah as a Mother’s Day text. However, as I stood in the pulpit yesterday, reading verse 7 aloud to my congregation, three words from that verse seemed to leap off the page at me: year by year. Frankly, we don’t know how many years Hannah had to endure the vicious taunting of Penninah. All we can say for sure is that God didn’t come riding in with the calvary and fix the problem overnight. He let things go on for years!
And this brings me to the heart of this post. How long have you been waiting for God to do that certain something? How long have you been waiting for Him to grant that specific request? How long have you been waiting for Him to deal with that one problem? If you can truthfully answer, “For YEARS,” you are in the good company of Hannah.
The difference between you and her is that we know how her story turned out. God eventually opened her womb and granted her Samuel. But how will your story end? I don’t know. All I’m saying is that literal years of what we might view as silence or inactivity on God’s part are no indication, in and of themselves, that He isn’t going to do what you’ve asked Him to do. Remember the words of Psalm 27:14:
Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!