Nothing says despair like waiting endlessly for a promise, prayer or desire to come to fruition. Add to that the misunderstanding of well-intentioned onlookers, and navigating the course of waiting can get tenuous. Sometimes you get comfort from the kind words of friends and loved ones, but even they get tired of hearing.
"Peninnah had children, while Hannah did not." 1 Samuel 1:2
Such a simple statement but it carried the weight of a cold, hard reality for Hannah. It was possibly what people used to define her. She was hoping for a change but presently, this was her lot in life. We all have had those moments - the moments where we define ourselves by looking at what we don't have in comparison to others. Michael has a job while Jonathon does not. Jessica has a plan for her life and Lisa does not. Or so and so is married, but you are not - the latter being a struggle for me on some days.
"You have me, isn't that better than ten sons?" 1 Samuel 1:8
In those times of struggle I sometimes seek advice or comfort in the words of older, more seasoned Christians and I often get a placid response. "Why are you so worried about that?" "Aren't you supposed to be content with where God has you?" Who said I wasn't content? All I was seeking was encouragement to keep going. At different points of our walk, God's storyline weaves an interesting read for the heavenly hosts, in which His biggest purpose is bringing glory to His name. The book of Samuel says that the LORD closed Hannah's womb.
Paul talks of being certain He was being lead by God to travel to share the gospel, even though he would meet upon adversity. It was the Holy Spirit that led Jesus in the wilderness to be tempted. Parts of our story are painful, and wading through the discomfort can dredge up despondency and disillusionment with the Giver of good things. It's hard, and many times sharing the difficulty with others seems pointless because responses come in varying forms, with ridiculous yet heartfelt platitudes, the slapping on of scripture, meddling, or exasperation because the listener is tired of hearing it.
"Year after year it was the same..." 1 Samuel 1:7
Sometimes it just feels like things are taking a long time. Sometimes I want to handle this part of life the way my mother reads books. My mother reads the end, then jumps to the front and then quickly scans the middle, because she honestly can't deal with not knowing what is going to happen nor does she want to suffer through waiting to see how the story unfolds for the main character. Wouldn't it be great if we could apply that to life? We could just jump to the end, or quickly surf through the difficult parts.
I think of Abraham and the wait for his son. He had faith, that's what the Lord said was how he was accredited with righteousness. But over two decades of waiting, I wonder about those still, quiet moments when he watched his wife gray, and night turn to day again and again. I wonder how Hannah handled waking up day after day watching Elkanah coddling and cooing his other children, or watching Peninnah walking around gently caressing pregnant tummy for yet another time, while she Hannah clutches her barren womb.
Sometimes we feel like parts of our story are spanning too many years, but there are so many promises given to us if we hold fast and allow the trials, restoration, strength, spiritual maturity and the crown of life.
"My heart rejoices in You Lord..." 1 Samuel 2:1
Hannah knew that the only one who could truly understand her plight was the Maker of her soul. I don't' know if it was the first time she prayed or the millionth time, but this time the Lord gave her the answer she wanted. I can only imagine what it was like for her, or for Abraham to hear from the angel of the Lord that what they had been waiting on finally had an end date. The struggle, the wait, the pain of holding on was finally coming to an end.
When reading about the trials of a main character, nothing brings as much joy as turning the page and seeing a turn for the better. But like all good stories, we have to keep reading, and in life we have to keep holding steadfast to the Comfortor. I understand that moments of despair can claw its way into our hearts when we look at our lives in comparison to what we hope to have accomplished, or believed would be. I won't offer you platititudes, but instead encouragement from a person who waits. As we trust God and continue to let His perfect work develop in us, the pages will continue to turn, so don't get weary of the chapter you are in.
"Joy is brightest in the person whose life has been darkest." Elizabeth George
Stacy-Ann Smith - is a child therapist. She is involved with youth and children's ministry and has a heart to work with young women teaching them the ways of the Lord. She serves as a board member of the Kingston and St. Andrew Foster Parent's Association. See her other blogs at aleatoires85.wordpress.com
Stacy-Ann Smith's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/stacy-ann-smith.html