Hannah stood up, and it changed everything. That’s where we left off in Part 1. Before we go there, let’s take a quick detour and talk about Job. I’m so thankful for his story.
Job knew suffering and wrestled with the Why? … the reasons he was going through such, well, hell. God himself called Job blameless. Job was not only blessed — with a wife, 10 children, thousands of livestock, and many servants — but also full of integrity. A rare breed, indeed.
But then trouble strikes Job’s paradise. In a matter of hours, he loses his livelihood and every last one of his sons and daughters. All his animals, employees, and children: dead. Next, Job is attacked with a horrendous, head-to-toe skin infection. It’s hard to comprehend his misery. Adding insult to injury … Job’s surviving wife “encourages” him to curse God and die (Job 2:9). Yikes.
Job’s friends attempt to “fix” things, but their comments are largely unhelpful. (I still give them some credit for showing up in Job’s suffering.) During one conversation, Job reasons, “Is not all human life a struggle?” (Job 7:1). The Hebrew word here for struggle, ṣāḇā’, speaks of warfare, service, army, host, and an appointed time. This multifaceted word, along with the entire book of Job, pulls back the curtain to reveal this truth: We’re all part of a spiritual battle, and God is sovereign over it all.
Go to God
Jesus shoots it straight: “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). Whatever our circumstances, there’s more at play than our natural eyes can see. Yet when we’re suffering, it’s disorienting. In our pain and confusion, we strive for understanding. Throughout the book of Job, his friends attempt to offer an explanation. Job, on the other hand, opts for lamentation.
“I cannot keep from speaking.Job 7:11 NLT
I must express my anguish.
My bitter soul must complain.”
Job expresses his emotions and, in his desperation, he cries out to God. We’re wise if we do likewise. Why pontificate and fight in your own strength when you can go directly to God? Let those tears flow. Yell, if you have to. Don’t hold back. You must be honest … with yourself and God.
It doesn’t help to deny, rationalize, or minimize our pain. Pretending and pretense will only hinder our healing. Get real with God in the midst of your struggle. Voice your pain, your questions, your confusion. Wait on him. Count on him. Cling to him.
Your struggle is important — possibly even appointed. You can curse God and cut off your healing. Or you can open your heart so God can do a deep work.
Job’s struggle set him up for a life-changing encounter. In prayer Job eventually realized his complete poverty: He knew things about God but barely knew God. When God answered Job, his complaints and cries of Why? evaporated under God’s weighty presence and great wisdom.
Compared with Job, we aren’t afforded as much insight into Hannah’s prayer life. I wonder if she stuffed her pain during some of those barren, empty years. Did she put on a plastic smile and pretend she was fine?
Grief is messy. Everyone processes pain and copes differently. Avoiding discomfort is common. In my own struggle with infertility, anger was easier than truly feeling sadness or admitting my jealousy. For a season, I questioned whether I even wanted children. Shutting down felt safer and more certain than facing my desires and the reality that God could say no.
The struggle to conceive is not new or unique, but it’s uniquely challenging. It will bring you to your knees, so to speak. The best way I can describe it is humiliating. To humble means lowering a person in dignity or importance. Infertility will make you question your value and purpose. It will poke you and squeeze you until all the props are gone. An ugly, guttural groan will grow inside. Given enough time, this deep cry eventually will come out.
The Valley of Weeping
Baca (from the root word bāḵâ) means weeping. This valley is a real, physical place and also a spiritual posture.
Every year Hannah traveled with her family to Shiloh, the location of the Tabernacle, where her tears would flow. Scripture says they lived in the hill country, which means they likely descended while moving toward their destination. I imagine Hannah’s heart was heavy on her journey.
The Valley of Baca is mentioned only once in the Bible in the context of a pilgrimage to find God.
When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,Psalm 84:6
it will become a place of refreshing springs.
The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.
Catch this commentary from gotquestions.org: “The psalmist uses the Valley of Baca symbolically to illustrate a difficult and sorrowful path in life.” It’s not a path many people choose on purpose. But there’s a beautiful promise in this psalm:
Blessings will gush forth from sorrow. Our tears release God’s refreshment. Our unhindered pain unleashes a supernatural exchange. There will be a breakthrough.
Hannah’s turning point takes place in 1 Samuel 1:9, when she stands up. The Hebrew word used is qûm. It has many meanings: to rise, abide, accomplish, decree, establish, strengthen, succeed, endure.
At this point, Hannah’s pain has reached a boiling point. She’s provoked enough to take action. She doesn’t indulge her flesh, cursing out her rival or putting her husband in his place. Instead, she changes positions — rising above the battle in the place of prayer. Verse 10 says, “Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord.” Hannah’s prayer wasn’t pretty or polished. I imagine some snot was involved.
Prayer is about authenticity. It’s about intimacy. It’s about honesty. It’s about humility. Hannah was praying silently, and violently, from the depths of her soul — using liquid language. Emptying herself, she made a costly vow.
“O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.”1 Samuel 1:11 NKJV
Don’t miss this: Hannah calls on the Lord of Hosts (Yᵊhōvâ ṣāḇā’).
Does ṣāḇā’ sound familiar? It’s the same word translated struggle in Job 7:1 mentioned above. In her own struggle, Hannah met the Lord of the Struggle. Interestingly, Hannah’s story is the first mention of the Lord of Hosts in the Bible. Isn’t that incredible? Gaining fresh revelation about God’s nature is a game changer. It has the power to pull God’s plans from heaven to earth. This was Hannah’s breakthrough, her warfare prayer.
When we receive a true (or new) revelation of God’s character, our faith grows and, sooner or later, miracles will manifest. The battle belongs to the Lord, and he always has a solution.
Hannah poured out her soul. She pressed in. She expressed the depth of her grief. She still asked for a son. She didn’t downplay her desires. But this time, she was willing to surrender her wants for God’s will. Hannah’s tears cut through the chaos and moved heaven.
It was such an intense moment that the priest Eli thought Hannah was intoxicated (1 Samuel 1:14). She was, sort of — just as the believers, freshly filled with the Holy Spirit, were accused of drinking in Acts 2:13. Both were supernatural moments, appointed by God, that birthed a new move of God on the earth.
This time when Hannah left the Tabernacle, something had shifted. She was different (1 Samuel 1:17-18). Her sorrow lifted. In its place came šālôm — completeness, soundness, welfare, peace. You know what didn’t change (at least not immediately)? Her circumstances.
Don’t we tend to think our breakthrough comes when our circumstances change, when we receive that thing we’re praying for? Not so fast. Your breakthrough can happen in the midst of your suffering, struggling, and waiting. It’s there at rock bottom that you discover a holy invitation to come up higher.
When you arise and stand in the place of prayer, the Lord of Hosts will give you perspective, peace, and solutions that you couldn’t access any other way.
Did Hannah still struggle after she left the Tabernacle? I’d say yes. Physically, she still seemed barren. But spiritually, she was pregnant with a promise. Her peace came from a Person, not an outcome. She possessed a precious revelation. She knew the Lord of Hosts, the true source of strength and hope.
Stay tuned for Part 3: Your Strength…
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