I hate it when discouragement weaves its way in my life. It always finds me at the most opportune time too, either when I’m on cloud nine or when I’m down in the dumps.
It buzzes like a bee that says, “You can’t.”
It rattles like a snake that questions, “You don’t actually believe you can do that, do you?”
It crows like a rooster that wakes me with, “You don’t have it in you.”
And so, I’m left with those words ringing in my ear. Words that bring me down not up. Words that push me back not forward.
It’s a struggle to feel encouraged when the results come back negative. When someone else gets what you want. When life is moving at a snail’s pace. When dreams seem out of reach. When God is taking too long.
When I feel down there’s a particular story in the Bible that lifts me up. It’s one of hope when hope seems nowhere to be found. It’s the story of Hannah’s hope.
Keep Showing Up
You may recall the story of Hannah. A woman who struggled to have children. While barren, she was belittled. Every year her husband Elkanah, and his other wife Peninnah would travel to Shiloh while Elkanah would worship God and present a sacrifice.
Each year they traveled, Peninnah, who had children, reminded Hannah of her barrenness. She taunted her and reduced her to tears. Still year after year, time after time, Hannah showed up at Shiloh. She knew she would suffer ridicule. She knew she would risk insults. She knew her dream of having children was not yet a reality. Still, she showed up. And she showed up when it was hard.
Where is your Shiloh?
I wonder if there’s a Shiloh in your life? A place where when you look the results aren’t there. An area where you’re continually reminded of what you lack. A destination where discouragement persists.
It was in Shiloh where Hannah laid out her hopes and dreams to the Lord. We too need to follow Hannah’s steps by showing up at our Shiloh day after day, month after month, year after year. And it’s more than showing up. We need to show up and pray.
After one particular trip to Shiloh, Hannah, full of sorrow came before the Lord in prayer.
“Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord.” (1 Samuel 1:10, NLT)
I don’t know why on this trip she decided to pray and not the others. Perhaps she was fed up with the mocking or maybe the years of dashed dreams were taking a toll on her. Whatever the reason, she poured out her heart to God.
Hannah did not lose hope.
We need more of Hannah’s hope in us.
We need to come boldly before God with our petition.
We need to lay it out there, in tears if we must, and tell Him about our disappointment.
Are you letting discouragement stop you from pouring your heart to the One who can offer encouragement?
We have a God, who in a heartbeat can change our circumstance. Still, many of us bottle up our emotions and keep God at bay. It’s not like He doesn’t see what’s bothering us, He does, but God wants us to seek Him, most especially when we’re feeling disheartened because He can comfort our hurting hearts like no other, but are we letting Him in there?
If you’re familiar with the story, you know that Hannah eventually gave birth to a son. A son whom she would dedicate back to the Lord. Samuel would become a prophet and the last of the judges. He would go on to anoint the first two Kings of Israel: Saul and David.
Aren’t you glad Hannah didn’t give up?
She didn’t let discouragement defeat her. She pushed through the pain and lived to see the prize – a child who would grow up to serve God.
Hannah’s story shows us that no matter how disappointed you feel, there is hope to be found in the One where hope is born.
The next time you find lies of discouragement sneaking words into your mind – be encouraged. Keep showing up, keep praying and know that our Father can turn our mourning into dancing, or in Hannah’s case – a delivery.
When discouragement takes over, align my heart back in line with yours. Give me the drive to keep pressing forward even when I can’t see the results. Give me faith to believe when my eyes can’t see. Encourage me with Your loving and tender words.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
How might Hannah’s story offer you hope?