Hearing God’s Voice and Obeying in Our Sorrows

By Kelly M. Williams -May 18, 2021

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.

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.”

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.

VIDEO 8 Moms in the Bible Who Served God Well

 

Eight mothers in the Bible played key roles in the coming of Jesus Christ. None of them was perfect, yet each showed strong faith in God. God, in turn, rewarded them for their confidence in him.

These mothers lived in an age when women were often treated as second-class citizens, yet God appreciated their true worth, just as he does today. Motherhoodis one of life’s highest callings. Learn how these eight mothers in the Bible put their hope in the God of the Impossible, and how he proved that such hope is always well-placed.

Eve – Mother of All the Living

Adam and Eve
God’s Curse by James Tissot. SuperStock / Getty Images

Eve was the first woman and the first mother. Without a single role model or mentor, she paved the maternal way to become “Mother of All the Living.” She and her mate Adam lived in Paradise, but they spoiled it by listening to Satan instead of God. Eve suffered terrible grief when her son Cain murdered his brother Abel, yet despite these tragedies, Eve went on to fulfill her part in God’s plan of populating the Earth.

Sarah – Wife of Abraham

Sarah
Sarah overhears the three visitors confirming she will have a son. Culture Club / Contributor / Getty Images

Sarah was one of the most important women in the Bible. She was the wife of Abraham, which made her the mother of the nation of Israel. Yet Sarah was barren. She conceived through a miracle in spite of her old age. Sarah was a good wife, a loyal helper and builder with Abraham. Her faith serves as a shining example for every person who has to wait on God to act.

Rebekah – Wife of Isaac

Rebekah
Rebekah pours water while Jacob’s servant Eliezer looks on. Getty Images

Rebekah, like her mother-in-law Sarah, was barren. When her husband Isaacprayed for her, God opened Rebekah’s womb and she conceived and gave birth to twin sons, Esau and Jacob. During an age when women were typically submissive, Rebekah was quite assertive. At times Rebekah took matters into her own hands. Sometimes that worked out, but it also resulted in disastrous consequences.

Jochebed – Mother of Moses

Jochebed and Baby Moses
Public Domain

Jochebed, the mother of Moses, is one of the underappreciated mothers in the Bible, yet she also showed tremendous faith in God. To avoid the mass slaughter of Hebrew boys, she set her baby adrift in the Nile River, hoping someone would find him and raise him. God so worked that her baby was found by Pharaoh’s daughter. Jochebed even became her own son’s nurse. God used Moses mightily, to free the Hebrew people from their 400 year, bondage of slavery and take them to the Promised Land. Although little is written about Jochebed in the Bible, her story speaks powerfully to mothers of today.

Hannah – Mother of Samuel the Prophet

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Hannah presents her son Samuel to the priest Eli. Gerbrand van den Eeckhout (circa 1665). Public Domain

Hannah’s story is one of the most touching in the entire Bible. Like several other mothers in the Bible, she knew what it meant to suffer long years of barrenness. In Hannah’s case she was cruelly taunted by her husband’s other wife. But Hannah never gave up on God. Finally, her heartfelt prayers were answered. She gave birth to a son, Samuel, then did something entirely selfless to honor her promise to God. God favored Hannah with five more children, bringing great blessing to her life.

Bathsheba – Wife of David

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Bathsheba oil painting on canvas by Willem Drost (1654). Public Domain

Bathsheba was the object of King David‘s lust. David even arranged to have her husband Uriah the Hittite killed to get him out of the way. God was so displeased with David’s actions that he struck dead the baby from that union. In spite of heartbreaking circumstances, Bathsheba remained loyal to David. Their next son, Solomon, was loved by God and grew up to become Israel’s greatest king. From David’s line would come to Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World. And Bathsheba would have the distinguished honor of being one of only five women listed in Messiah’s ancestry.

Elizabeth – Mother of John the Baptist

Elizabeth - Mother of John the Baptist
The Visitation by Carl Heinrich Bloch. SuperStock / Getty Images

Barren in her old age, Elizabeth was another of the miracle mothers in the Bible. She conceived and gave birth to a son. She and her husband named him John, as an angel had instructed. Like Hannah before her, she dedicated her son to God, and like Hannah’s son, he also became a great prophetJohn the Baptist. Elizabeth’s joy was complete when her relative Mary visited her, pregnant with the future Savior of the World.

Mary – Mother of Jesus

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Mary the Mother of Jesus; Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato (1640-1650). Public Domain

Mary was the most honored mother in the Bible, the human mother of Jesus, who saved the world from its sins. Although she was only a young, humble peasant, Mary accepted God’s will for her life. She suffered enormous shame and pain, yet never doubted her Son for a moment. Mary stands as highly favored by God, a shining example of obedience and submission to the Father’s will.

Watch Now: Learn About Mary, the Mother of Jesus


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What Did Mary Know? (Selected Scriptures) John MacArthur