When God Meets Us at Our Breaking Point
1 Samuel 1:1-28
“The Lord (finally) answered my request” (1 Samuel 27)
Whether you are a young saint or elderly saint, wealthy saint or financially struggling saint, married saint or single saint, there is another thing we have in common that’s a part of our life of faith. We all have, without exception, a breaking point!
A breaking point can be defined as being pushed to the limit of what we can endure, completely coming to the end of ourselves, resources, sanity, or even our desire to continue at all. It also implies that we have no more strength on any level within ourselves and there is no one to turn to but God. Finally it implies that we literally or metaphorically fall on our faces before the Lord with nothing left to offer but our despair and dependence on Him.
It is not a lack of faith that brings us there or sin (although it can be) or rebellion to God’s ways or even a pay back from God for what we had done months or years ago.
It is common among God’s people and it’s what we find in the life of a childless and disappointed woman named Hannah in our text today.
A highlight of 1 Samuel 1-11 gives us a glimpse into Hannah’s world:
a) She was married to Elkanah, her husband, who clearly “Loved her though the Lord closed her womb”vs.5
b) The fact that she was barren was the most shaming event that could happen to a woman of that time. God’s people believed that the Lord closed and opened the womb and many felt that if the Lord chose to close the womb it was because she was cursed or had grievously sinned.
c) What made matters more painful for Hannah was that a wealthy man, such as Elkanah, was permitted to marry a second wife who could bear his children and carry on the family name, as well as the estate left for the children.
d) The author emphasizes Hannah’s awkward life by writing the somber phrase “And Penniniah, Elkanah’s second wife, had children, but Hannah had no children” vs.2
e) What made matters worse for Hannah was that “year after year” the family would travel 15 miles to Shiloh to worship God at their three annual Jewish festivals and “Peninnah would provoke Hannah grievously to irritate her because the Lord closed her womb” vs.6-7 (Peninnah also realized, no doubt, that her husband loved and favored his first wife Hannah. It is one thing for God not to grant a request so close to our heart, but it’s another thing altogether for a relative to mock us, remind us with fingers pointed.
f) This abuse year after year multiple times was too much for Hannah to bear. She hit her breaking point and we read that “she was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.” She was at the complete end of herself and vowed to the Lord “Oh Lord if you will look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his Life.”vs.10-11
Hannah completely comes to the end of herself and tells God that if He remembers her and opens her womb to give birth to a son, she will raise him and around the age of four or five take him by his little hand and walk him right up to the temple and let him go to live and minister there the rest of his life, which her son, Samuel did.
The interesting thing was that God had denied her prayer for years. Peninnah had five children, which no doubt took some time, so we could assume that Hannah faithfully prayed for years that the Lord would open her womb, but He didn’t.
However, read that “In due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said (literally) the Lord has heard my prayer”vs.20
Lessons Learned at a Breaking Point:
God Knows - Behind the scenes of Hannah’s long trial, God had a perfectly planned time frame. What the Lord is doing in our lives is not merely an individual work, but he has a higher purpose for his glory and our good in the work of His kingdom. When Hannah finally gave birth to Samuel he became the most effective voice for God since Moses, and when he was born God used him as the Godly leader his people desperately needed at that dark time in their history. He Knows.
God Hears - How many times did Hannah pray her same request through the years without an answer? God not only heard every painful whisper from Hannah but he was so close to her in her circumstances. The psalmist bears this truth out when he penned “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and crushed in spirit” Psalms 45.
In addition, when the Lord finally broke through her desperation and she gave birth she named him Samuel which literally means “God Listens” or “God has heard me.” God Hears.
God Does - We don’t know why God answers and moves when He does, but we do know His timing is perfect and someday it will all become clear to us. One of the repeated phrases in Scripture is “This too shall pass.” Your breaking point will not continue. Pour out your soul like Hannah did. Lay it all down on the altar. Plead with the Lord in your fervent prayer and above all else submit to the Lords will again and again. Many times at the divine moment of His providential plan, he lists the pain and brings tremendous relief.
May He grant us the grace to trust Him as we leave our concerns in His care.
Pastor Bill Gallagher