What we want and what we need do not often go hand in hand. There are things that I have wanted in my life for a long time now, that apparently the Lord has not seen to be necessities. At least not yet.
I know he knows what is best for me, but it is still hard to wait. And it is difficult not to look longingly at what others have received and wonder why I, too, cannot be the recipient of such things in my life.
This kind of struggle is not new to any of us. And Hannah, who we read about in the first chapter of 1 Samuel, is a great example of how to live when what you want is not yet something God says you need.
For years Hannah had wanted to become a mother. To bear a child. To give her husband, Elkanah, a son—just like his other wife, Peninnah.
1 Samuel 1:1-2 (NKJV)1 Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim Zophim, of the mountains of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite.2 And he had two wives: the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
Being barren was considered a disgrace for a woman in those times, so Hannah most likely felt ashamed and alone and perhaps like a societal outcast. Instead of turning away, though, Hannah took her sorrow and her request for what she wanted to the Lord.
We don't know for sure how long she waited (perhaps years)—and we don't know the exact purposes of God's timing in her life—but we can still learn a great deal from Hannah's example
She was persistent and continually sought the Lord. She did not give up and stop asking the Lord for what she wanted. Like clockwork, Hannah kept bringing her request to God, year after year at the temple in Shiloh.
7)1 Samuel 1:7 (NKJV) So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat.
No doubt her want continued to drive her to the Father and most likely deepened her relationship with him.
She was blessed with a lifeline. Elkanah loved her very dearly (if not more than Peninnah). I am sure this buoyed Hannah to make it through the years when she may have wondered if God would ever answer her prayer for a child. God was gracious in giving her a loving husband
1 Samuel 1:4-5, 8 (NKJV)4 And whenever the time came for Elkanah to make an offering, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters.5 But to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, although the LORD had closed her womb.
8 Then Elkanah her husband said to her, "Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?"
She did not give in to ridicule or naysayers. Even when Peninnah (who was fruitful and had children) provoked her and taunted her because she was barren, Hannah did not add insult to injury. She did not become nasty and retaliate when ridiculed for her condition or her faith.
She shared her "want" and was encouraged by others.
When the high priest Eli observed Hannah praying in the temple and inquired as to her condition (he thought she was intoxicated because she was praying silently, but her lips were moving
1 Samuel 1:12-14 (NKJV)12 And it happened, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli watched her mouth.13 Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk.14 So Eli said to her, "How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!" she shared with him what she was asking of the Lord.
When Eli saw what was really going on, he encouraged her and asked God to answer her request.
1 Samuel 1:17 (NKJV) Then Eli answered and said, "Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him."
She gave back to God what he had given to her. When God blessed Hannah with a child, she did not cling tightly to him. She kept her promise, let her son go and dedicated him to the Lord.
1 Samuel 1:11, 21-28 (NKJV)11 Then she made a vow and said, "O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head."
1 Samuel 1:21-28 (NKJV)21 Now the man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the LORD the yearly sacrifice and his vow.22 But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, "Not until the child is weaned; then I will take him, that he may appear before the LORD and remain there forever."23 And Elkanah her husband said to her, "Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him. Only let the LORD establish His word." So the woman stayed and nursed her son until she had weaned him.24 Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bulls, one ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD in Shiloh. And the child was young.25 Then they slaughtered a bull, and brought the child to Eli.26 And she said, "O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the LORD.27 For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him.28 Therefore I also have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the LORD." So they worshiped the LORD there.
How unbelievable is that? To accept and then release back to God something he has given to you that you have prayed and prayed and prayed for? That is model faith!
Like Hannah, are you waiting on the Lord to give you something you want in your life today? A new job? Reconciliation in your marriage? Blessing in your finances? A cure from illness? To find your soul mate? Victory over an addiction? A baby?
Each of us has something we want in our lives. But is up to God to decide if this is something we really need. May we continue to come to him with joy and thankfulness, as we acknowledge that he knows what is best for us in our lives.
Editor’s Note: Content by Laura MacCorkle from Want vs Need. Full scripture inserted by blog publisher.