Persistence is certainly one tough pill to swallow. I’ve personally wrestled with it in seasons of doubt and insecurity. I also believe persistence is something we need on a daily basis, whether we know it or not. I wanted to see what the Bible had to say in the department of persistence. I was so abundantly blessed by what God showed me: A woman named Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:1-27. Before we jump in, I want to share some of my struggle of persistence with you, so you can better understand how deeply I was impacted by Hannah’s story of prayer and persistence…
Sometimes our deepest struggles are the ones God uses to deepen our relationship with Him. When I started taking classes at my local community college, I was required to take several remedial math classes before I could move on to the ones that counted toward my degree. For starters, I am not a fan of math whatsoever. I had to take FIVE of these remedial classes, which were only supposed to last six weeks. Six weeks isn’t too bad. I remember thinking to myself.
I didn’t know this at the time, but those first six weeks would have to be endured five more times before I was eligible to move on to the other four classes I needed. Looking back, God taught me so much during those weeks that I feel I would’ve missed otherwise.
Things such as trust and persistence. These things can bring us such peace and hope if we let them. I think Hannah understood each of these more than most of us.
Hannah’s struggle was real.
From the beginning of the passage we see that there was a man named Elkanah, who had two wives: Hannah and Peninnah. What immediately stuck out to me as I was reading was the way verse two ends:
“Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not.”
1 Samuel 1:2 NLT
I had two main observations that I took away from reading that verse. First, Hannah had battled feelings of guilt and insecurity because she had no children to give her husband.
My circumstances are different and I don’t want to assign any false thoughts to her, but I can totally identify with Hannah in that season. In our weakest moments, Satan loves to whisper those discouraging lies to us. I don’t want false thoughts to Hannah, but I’m fairly certain she heard her share of whispers from the Enemy.
Since we know her struggle was real let’s see how she dealt with it…
“The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.”
Hebrews 11:1-2 MSG
Having faith is something that seems impossible in the eyes of the world. We know that God doesn’t operate like the world, thankfully. I believe Hannah had a lot of faith. She knew that faith grows exponentially through prayer.
In the second chapter of her story, we find Hannah on her face and brokenhearted before her Savior:
Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. 11 And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.[e]”
1 Samuel 1:10-11 NLT
God had shown me something awesome about prayer over the years. Years ago, when I was in the midst of a very dry season, the Lord in His love spoke to my heart. He said, “Andrea, I’m willing to give you these things. I just need you to be brave enough and trust the way I will fulfill your heart’s desires.”
I think Hannah came to a similar realization as she poured out her heart before the Lord. Although she wasn’t sure how God would answer her prayer for a child, Hannah knew God would answer her prayer.
I can almost hear the sincerity and gut-wrenching honesty in Hannah’s voice when I read the second half of verse 11: …” Then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.[e]”
God definitely honors our prayers and the sincere honesty we pour into them.
Our prayers never go unanswered and neither did Hannah’s prayer for a son. In the second half of 1 Samuel 1, we see where Samuel is born.
The entire family got up early the next morning and went to worship the Lord once more. Then they returned home to Ramah. When Elkanah slept with Hannah, the Lord remembered her plea, 20 and in due time she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel,[f] for she said, “I asked the Lord for him.”
1 Samuel 1:19-20 NLT
My favorite part of this verse is when Scripture says, …” the Lord remembered her plea, and in due time she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel,[f] for she said, “I asked the Lord for him.” This is evidence of what our faith can do. We just have to be willing to trust Him and in doing so understand that He only wants what is best for us as His sons and daughters.
God continued to place His favor on Samuel for the rest of Samuel’s days because He is forever faithful.
God’s favor rested on Samuel as he was raised up to become a great prophet for the nation of Israel.
Toward the end of 1 Samuel 1, Hannah takes young Samuel to the tabernacle to dedicate him to the Lord. (v. 24-28)
Verses 26 and 27 are so soothing to my aching soul on those days when I feel like my prayers are going unanswered:
Sir, do you remember me?” Hannah asked. “I am the very woman who stood here several years ago praying to the Lord. I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request.”
1 Samuel 1:26-27 NLT
There are three things I believe we can take away from Hannah’s example:
- Persistence grows through prayer.
- We can never lose faith.
- God definitely honors our prayers and the sincere honesty we pour into them.
One last thing: I believe with all my heart that God included Hannah’s story along with so many others in His word, so that we would be able to look back on their examples and be even more persistent in following Jesus.
© 2016. Andrea Pierce. All Rights Reserved