Hannah, a woman in the Old Testament, is an excellent role model for how to get real with God as we try to carry the burdens that are robbing us of Christ’s peace.
Hannah was one of Elkanah’s two wives. Because of her childlessness, Hannah was taunted by Elkanah’s other wife. Although Elkanah tried to comfort Hannah with his love and provision, Hannah was miserable, weepy, and did not eat (1 Samuel 1:7).
So what did Hannah do with this all-consuming, peace-stealing grief? One year, during her husband’s annual trek to the temple at Shiloh, Hannah went into the temple herself for a firsthand encounter with God. So dramatically did she pour out her heart to God that Eli, the priest in attendance, accused her of being drunk!
After Hannah explained the reason for her sadness and told him of her prayer for a child, Eli was convinced that she was not drunk—except with grief. Then he said an amazing thing to her: “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him” (1 Samuel 1:17). Even more amazing than what Eli said is what Hannah did. She changed her attitude and embraced the peace that Eli had offered her.
Hannah’s encounter with God in the temple marks the height of conflict in her life story. To the temple she brings her greatest burden, childlessness, and basically throws it at God’s feet. Then without any tangible proof that God will positively answer her prayer, she walks out, leaving her burden behind. Hannah’s peace is restored, not because God has yet answered her prayer, but because, with the help of Eli, she has handed her burden to God and trusted him with it.
This is good news for those of us who are carrying great burdens! If we are as authentic with God as Hannah was in presenting our burdens to him and then leave them with God in faith and trust, we also can have the peace that Hannah experienced.
St. Teresa of Ávila advised, “Let nothing upset you, let nothing startle you. All things pass; God does not change. Patience wins all it seeks. Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone is enough.”
And yet, often, worry holds us back. Sometimes in the middle of praying you realize that the thread of your prayers has changed into a knotted string of worries. The weight of responsibilities holds you back too, perhaps especially when there are so many people depending on you.
Yet what if we were to begin to live as if God alone were enough? What would the practical implications be? On our short list would surely be our ability to be more peaceful with the people in our lives. We would be more forgiving because we would be so aware of God’s mercy in our own life. We would not be as needy because God’s love would be enough for us. We would know that in his eyes, we are truly worthy, beautiful, valuable, and capable, and that what we do or how much we have is not who we are. We would be more generous, even in tough times, and misfortunes would not disturb our trust in God.
If we were to live as if God alone were enough, we would tend to all our earthly responsibilities faithfully and yet hold them loosely. Our sense of well-being and security would be stable, and the peace and goodness of that stability would overflow into all our other relationships and into all our responsibilities.
Ask Jesus, who is our peace, to help you to be authentic in your prayers, to abandon your burdens to him, to restore you to peace, both with him and with your situation, and to help you to know that he alone is enough.
This is a selection from Finding God’s Peace in Everyday Challenges:100 Meditations for Women by Heidi Bratton from The Word Among Us Press 2015, available from wau.org/books.