Heroes and Villains: Elkanah

Only God satisfies

It's funny to look back over my life from my current perspective as a mother. I remember what life was like before children and some days, that life is so attractive. When I've cleaned poop from surfaces that poop should NEVER be, I long for that attractive kidless life. But I remember longing to have a family of my own. I remember imagining what life would be like with a husband and children. But that intense longing is still something I will never forget.

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Recently, I've come to wonder if the intense longing for children and a family isn't so much a "biological clock" ticking, but the wooing of God's great call on our lives. We live in a culture where having a family of our own is less important when compared to a successful career, the amount of money in the bank, exotic vacations, and so many other pressures. A family doesn't seem to even remotely compare to these worldly standards, yet I believe that a family of our own is truly a calling. Not everyone is called to be a spouse. Not everyone is called to be a parent. 

One such story on the intense longing for a child can be found in the book of Samuel. In 1 Samuel 1, we read about Hannah and her husband Elkanah. 

Read 1 Samuel 1

Here's what we know about Elkanah

  • He is already a parent with his other wife.
  • He loved Hannah and sought to give her the best of what he had.
  • He isn't the most sensitive husband in the world. 
And Elkanah, her husband, said to her, ‘Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?’
— 1 Samuel 1:8 ESV

This one verse has always captured my attention. It's Elkanah's insensitivity to Hannah's heart's deepest longings that makes me want to crawl through the pages of time and slap him upside the head to shake a few things loose... starting with empathy. 

But this isn't about me.

When we view this chapter, we see a few relationships in turmoil. We have a not-so-pleasant Peninnah doing what she can to "stir the pot." She constantly points out Hannah's lack with the intention to irritate and hurt Hannah. We have a seemingly clueless husband who maybe doesn't see this turmoil, who only adds to it by his not so helpful words (written above). In Elkanah's defense, he was probably resolved to the fact that Hannah would never have children and in that light made attempts to get her mind off of her heart's deepest longing. Then we have Hannah, who year after year faces the disappointment and social stigma with not being able to have children. 

Related Post: Hannah- Prayer

After Elkanah's comment of "Am I not more to you than ten sons?" Hannah went to the temple to pray. It's here where we witness the miracle of God answering such a desperate prayer. I think of Eli when Hannah presented her miraculous blessing (Samuel). To witness the product of the answered prayer. I think so many of us take that for granted. I think of Elkanah witnessing the birth of a child that he never thought would come because Hannah had been barren for so long. How often do we take that answered prayer for granted, hardly giving a second thought to that miracle we never expected to happen? What about Peninnah, when she witnessed God providing the very thing that Hannah lacked? God is the God of the impossible. There is always hope for our situation and for our deepest heart longings. 

What we learn from Elkanah:

We learn that when other people don't understand our deepest heart longings, God does. Have you ever talked to someone about any situation going on in your life and you just don't feel like they "get it?" In those moments where it seems like no one understands what you're going through, God does. He understands the words your saying, the heart with which you're saying it, and even all those other things you can't seem to put words to. He gets it. He understands it all. He understands it better than anyone else could even attempt to! And you know what, He can do something about your situation too!

We learn that no one replaces God. No one satisfies like God does. I've always understood Elkanah's statement "Am I not more to you than ten sons?" as a question of if Hannah's husband was enough for her. The truth of the matter, no husband, no child, no dream job, no dream house, no dream come true could ever satisfy us in the way that God does. Sure, a husband, a child, a dream whatever might satisfy us for a time, but eventually, we'll find ourselves hungry for something more. And you know what? That "something more" is Jesus. 

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When we resign ourselves into believing that God WON'T change a situation, we highlight our own doubt that He is ABLE to change it. He's the God of the impossible. He can make a way where all we see is dead ends and brick walls. No matter what challenge we face, which longings of our heart is left unsatisfied, God can take care of it all. Don't believe the lie that He is unable to help our current challenge. Don't believe the lie that God can't satisfy our heart's deepest longings. He's able to do the impossible! 

Where do you stand today? Are you doubting that God is ABLE to provide a solution to your challenge? Are you longing for "something more" when Jesus is right there to satisfy your heart's deepest longings? Are you feeling like no one really understands what you're going through or how you're feeling? Let's turn to God today and be like Hannah as we lay our burdens down at His feet. Let's watch expectantly as God turns the impossible into a possibility!

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