Mired in Misery
Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea—the Lord on high is mighty. Psalm 93:4
Floundering in frustration, swamped by sorrow. That’s where we meet Hannah in 1 Samuel 1. She was barren, and in her culture barrenness was considered punishment—God’s punishment for disobedience. After all, if children were a blessing, wasn’t barrenness a curse?1
So what did Hannah do? She prayed. Although other people may have thought God had turned His back on her, somehow Hannah knew that He hadn’t. Bewildered and broken, she knew where to take her pain. She cried out, “O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life” (1:11).
Hannah’s short but profound prayer illustrates three important truths. First, circumstances sometimes suggest that God has forgotten about us. But He never does. He hadn’t forsaken Hannah; He had always planned to give her a son. In fact, her son Samuel became the greatest judge Israel ever had. A valiant warrior and a wise ruler, his reputation remained unblemished his whole life. How proud she must have been of her godly son—definitely worth the wait.
Second, no matter how hopeless a situation seems, God wants to hear about it—even if we’re angry. Verse 10 says that Hannah offered her prayer “in bitterness of spirit.” The Hebrew word for bitterness, mar, can also be translated angry, discontent, or fierce.2 God’s never offended by our anger if it brings us to our knees before Him.
Third, in her anger Hannah maintained a humble spirit. Twice she acknowledged that she was God’s servant, an amah, specifically a maidservant or female slave.3 In other words, she realized God was in no way obligated to answer her prayer. But in humility she asked Him to consider her misery and be merciful.
Like Hannah, we are sometimes overwhelmed by circumstances beyond our control and beyond our remedy. But also like Hannah, we have a God who is mighty enough to calm any storm and repair every broken heart.
Drowning in despair? Cry out to God. He is the Lord Almighty and He loves us. He will not ignore our misery.
- Read 1 Samuel 1. What two people misunderstood Hannah’s anguish? What does that imply about taking our problems to people rather than toGod?
- Obviously Hannah didn’t know whether God would answer her prayer when she left the temple. Why do you think her “face was no longer downcast” in 1:18? (Consider what David wrote in Psalm 16:7–9; 27:13–14).
- Read Deuteronomy 4:25–31. Why did Moses say God wouldn’t forsake Israel even when they were faithless? Why won’t He ever forsake us? (Read John 10:27–29.)
Denise K. Loock
This devotion is a part of Dig into Prayer.
1 Passages such as Deuteronomy 7:12–14 and Psalm 127:3–6 declare that children are a blessing. However, godly women such as Hannah and John the Baptist’s mother, Elizabeth, prove that barrenness was not necessarily punishment for ungodly behavior. Sometimes God just had other blessings in mind.
2 Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and
Word Search for mar (Strong’s 4751)“. Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2013.
13 Aug 2013. < http://
3 Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and
Word Search for ‘amah (Strong’s 519)“. Blue Letter Bible.
1996-2013. 13 Aug 2013. < http://