Updated: Sep 29, 2020
1 Samuel Chapter one tells the heart-wrenching story of one woman who aches to have a child- Hannah. Plus, she has the delight of being a sister wife. I know, let's not get hung up on this one detail; instead, I would like to share some interesting facts about these two sister wives. Read or listen to 1 Samuel Chapter One.
We can learn a lot about our story with a little Hebrew lesson.
Hannah's name means grace. And she sure needed it being wife number 2 with no children and continuously harassed by sister Sally McFertile.
Penninah's name means jewel, but it comes from the root meaning of pearl. More in-depth research says the Hebrew meaning comes from the kind of irritant that makes a pearl. Ding ding ding.
Has anyone ever had a Penninah in your life? An irritant, a bully you couldn't escape? Someone or something you HAD to deal with EVERY SINGLE DAY. And her hubs is no help at all. He actually asks Hannah why she is so sad. What the Heck? Is he sitting at the gates smoking his hookah playing checkers with the boys, oblivious as to what's going on at home? For the love of all this is good and holy! He goes as far as to say to poor Hannah, "You have me. Isn't that better than ten sons?" Only if you looked like Hugh Jackman Elkanah.
But seriously, we see why Hannah needed copious amounts of grace. Buckets of it, in fact.This is how life is sometimes. You can't get away from the irritations. Sometimes there is no escape from the pain, only a path through it. Read that again.
Days like these seem like the world is against you. The kids are fighting, the washing machine leaks all over the floor, the computer crashes. The car breaks down. And the in-laws pop in. And its only Tuesday.
Oh, but Hannah knows where to go when life is out of balance, and her appetite is lost due to her heartache. Her agony showed her that the God of the universe lives low to the ground. She runs to the temple; to the alter. She must get in the presence of the Lord. She needs to pour her complaint out to him. Verse 10 Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. What's sad to me is Hannah suffered alone with her disappointment and brokenness. She even had to defend her weeping to Eli, who thought she was drunk. See verse 16- But like Lil' Hagar, Hannah was seen and heard and then, given a promise amid her pain.
It's amazing what one word from God can do for us in our brokenness. Just knowing he sees us, hears us, and has a plan brings comfort beyond explanations. And though the circumstance has yet to change, when we get up from the altar, we know in our spirit something is different. The irritants have lost their abrasiveness because they have been coated in grace.
Today, if you feel surrounded by "Penninah's," and you have pain, you can't escape, and you are required to go through it; get alone with God and see what he has to say.