I love the story of Hannah.
She seems like the mascot of discontent women everywhere. The Bible says she “wept and would not eat’ because she wanted a child so badly. And guess what? God gave her a child.
It is such a challenge for me to read this text and not make it into a prescription: how do I need to pray in order to get what I want from God? But we have to remember that this story, just like every story in the Bible, isn’t primarily about the people involved, it’s about God.
The way God responds to Hannah does not teach us something about Hannah. It teaches us something about God: God loves a needy heart.
Here are three reasons for that:
1. Our neediness reveals that God is God. In today’s culture, it’s pretty hard to feel desperately needy. There are no shortage of women who know exactly what Hannah was feeling all those lonely tragic nights of longing, but here, in America in 2012, we have places we can turn for help.
And while there is nothing wrong with medicine or technology, God loves us to recognize that He is the only one who can save. Hannah responds to God’s gift of a child by declaring that “there is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.” (1 Samuel 2:2 ESV)
When we’re in a situation where none of our tools can help us, none of our intelligence, none of our strength – then we are forced to accept that we aren’t God. God is the only one who is God.
2. Our neediness shows the strength of God. God blesses the weak because He wants the world to see that people don’t get things in life by their own strength. Hannah explains that “not by might shall a man prevail,” (1 Samuel 2:9 ESV).
Our helplessness sets the stage for God to flex His muscles and show just how mighty He is.
3. Our neediness shows God’s character. Hannah sees her neediness as her greatest asset in His sight because she knew that God loves to bless the weak and needy:
“He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap,” (1 Samuel 2:8 ESV).
God loves needy people because they are the perfect opportunity for Him to remind us that He’s not like us: He loves the rejected and the forgotten.
4. Our neediness drives us to God. Here’s my problem: I am so manipulative that I even try to use neediness as a tool to manipulate God into giving me what I want. If I can just pray hard enough, cry enough, then surely He’ll have to respond.
But Hannah pours out her heart to God – leveling herself at His feet – and then she stands up – and months before she knows she has a child in her womb – she walks away at peace.
Her neediness wasn’t a tool to get a child, it was tool to get more of God. If we’re going to find any kind of formula in this passage then here it is:
- Use your obstacle to make you needy. Whatever situation you’re in, let your pain and longing drive you to get on your face before the only One who has power. Let it show you your neediness.
- Use your neediness to get more of God. Lean on Him in ways you never have. Confess, repent, beg, plead and if you don’t feel like doing any of those things – tell Him that. Tell Him how much you need His help to even believe that you need His help.
- Rest. You’ll know when your neediness has served its purpose because you – like Hannah – will find peace that surpasses understanding. If God answers your prayer you – like Hannah – will prove that He is your prize by giving that blessing right back to Him to be stewarded for His glory.
And then rinse and repeat. Seriously. There are always more obstacles. We will always be more needy than we even understand. And God is not interested in creating ‘Hannahs’ who trust Him, stand up and walk away and never need Him again.
If you wake up tomorrow and feel that twinge of longing, then be encouraged. Sanctification is the process of depending on God more and more in each moment. Each hint of need we feel is the grace of God – making us into the women He longs for us to be.