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Barren Places

Lord, my heart will trust in You – while I wait.
I will rise and cling to the riches of Your promises
all the days of my life!

Focus of the Month: “Ordinary Women with Extraordinary Hope”

When I received Jesus as the Lord of my life and made the decision to follow His Word, His Ways, and His example, I did not fully comprehend the depths to which He would one day rescue me. The love He would show me would surpass any love I’d ever known. But that amazing experience would not have happened without a complete and true surrender of myself.

I was in my late 30’s, raising two middle-school aged girls when we made a hard decision to relocate. Packing our belongings we moved in anticipation of a new adventure. I had no way of knowing I would be entering a season of tear-soaked pillows, knees raw from praying and sleepless nights of wondering if this God I put my trust in would ever answer me. Would He ever hear my cry? Would all the wonderful things others told me about Him be only for them? Would I be the one who forever waited…in this barren and empty place? Have you been there? Are you reading this from that place right now?

We have hope! Scripture tells us true stories of women who stood in faith that God is a promise keeper. They believed He would hear their cry and He would answer. Unfortunately, I knew very little of these testimonies in those dark hours of need. And so today I bring you the story of Hannah, who like me, wept bitterly before the Lord and all she could do was wait.

Hannah was married to a man named Elkanah who loved her very much. They lived in the hill country of Ephraim. Now, it sounds like a fairytale but it was far from it. See, Elkanah, had another wife, Peninnah who was blessed to bear children with him. Scripture says God had closed the womb of Hannah. Wait – What? Why? I asked those questions too!

Hannah’s heart could not be comforted as she longed for a son. To make matters worse, Peninnah tormented and ridiculed Hannah concerning her barrenness.

Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. (1 Samuel 1:6-7)

I wish I could ask Hannah what her deepest emotions were in that moment. Was she heartbroken, grieved? Did she feel hopeless? Even abandoned? In her darkest hour where would she turn? To God? To the One who seemingly allowed this? These are real questions. Questions I asked Him in my moment of deepest sorrow. When I read Hannah’s response to the pain I can’t help but wonder if my faith would ever be strong enough to trust God like she did.

In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on 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 for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” (1 Samuel 1:10-11)

Hannah so hoped for a son that she offered to give him back to God. Is that what I needed to be willing to do? Did I have to fully surrender my control, my way, my life in order to be redeemed from my barren place? I did.

God blessed Hannah with a son. His name was Samuel. He became the prophet who would anoint David as King. As Hannah rose from her grief and honored her word to the Lord, He gave Samuel a place among her people that she could not have imagined. What is waiting for you or me on the other side of that desert place? When the clouds part and God moves…we can not possibly imagine. Our faith, our obedience and our hope in HIM must prevail. His promise to work all things together for the good of those who love Him will prosper!

Have courage to wait well and with expectation! As you weep He is working. He keeps track of all our sorrows and collects our tears in His bottle. He records each one in His book — Let us not forget the barren places from which He has already delivered us! He is faithful. He is our HOPE.

Holding Fast to Hope,

Scripture References: 1 Samuel 1:6-8, 1 Samuel 1:10-11, Psalm 56:8


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