My favorite woman in the Bible is Hannah. I think she represents delayed manifestation of God-given desires. The delay makes you wonder why you even want what you want in the first place. But I think in order to understand Hannah a little better, you have to take a look at Peninnah.
Peninnahs have a way of making your misfortunes about them. They rub what they have in your face because they don’t know God is the one who gave it to them. But perhaps Hannah wasn’t even thinking about Peninnah when she was brought to tears. Maybe she wondered how God could give Peninnah – as cruel and godless as she was – what He would not give her. Maybe it was about not understanding what God was doing in her life. Have you ever asked God “How can you bless her/him – who doesn’t even think about you – and not me?” I don’t think it’s a faithless question. I think it’s an obvious one. The sentiment in this question was a recurring theme in quite a few of David’s psalms. But I digress.
Peninnahs are also those people who look at your circumstances and find a way to tell you “Well, if you would just to this or that, maybe you wouldn’t be in this predicament”. I’ve found that all of the people who have done this in my life fall into one of two categories. They either really don’t understand that godly people can experience unprovoked suffering; or their own life circumstances really leave much to be desired. They are miserable and want you to be miserable too.
What is also interesting to me is that Elkanah seems to turn a blind eye to how Peninnah is treating Hannah. I can’t see how he could have been oblivious to it. How is it fair that he only reminds Hannah to be grateful? How could he be so insenitive to Hannah’s plight in the face of the cultural values at the time? Have you ever confided in someone just to have them tell you that you need to fix yourself and leave the rest to God? Or they make it about them and tell you how much they’ve suffered for the kingdom of God?
Either way…the end to Hannah’s story is amazing. Peninnah had no choice but to shut her mouth. Hannah’s child, Samuel, became a matchless leader in a nation that had lost it’s way for quite some time. I wonder what ever came of Peninnah’s children. The Bible doesn’t say, but if how she treated Hannah was any indication of how she raised her children or conducted her relationships – she probably spent more time tearing others down than teaching her children how to be godly men and women. So you can probably imagine how their story ended.
Hannah’s story reminds me to have faith in the middle of hopeless circumstances. If you have a God-given desire, it can and will come to pass. Sometimes God has to stretch us so He can give us what He has for us. Sometimes we just don’t know what He’s doing and we have to trust Him. Just don’t give up. Like Hannah, take everything you have to God in prayer and in the end – be ready to praise Him for everything He has done.