Do you struggle with a lack of self-worth or feelings of inferiority? We know that when God created mankind, He approved of His creation, saying, ‘It is very good’. But what if you don’t see yourself as very good, perhaps even dislike and criticise yourself, and see others as better than you?
Feeling low and worthless can be rooted in a painful reality of life, to which God longs to bring His love and comfort, as soothing balm to a raw wound. But sometimes the blockage to receiving that balm and allowing the Lord to raise us up, is the way we handle that aching sense of worthlessness. Fallen nature wants to take it out on those closest to us, especially if they don’t seem to understand and offer well-intentioned but unhelpful advice. Fallen nature wants to withdraw into isolation or blame God, or even give up on Him altogether.
Hannah knew what it was to feel worthless. Desperate for a child and unable to conceive, she was grief-stricken and felt so inferior to Peninnah, Elkanah’s other wife, who had borne him children. Elkanah tried to make her feel better by feeding her more. But that just exacerbated Peninnah’s anger. Why should she, who had children, be loved less and given less to eat than Hannah, who didn’t? Year after year Peninnah took it out on Hannah, cruelly making fun of her pain and suffering.
You’d think Hannah would have reacted to Peninnah. But she didn’t, and neither was she passively resigned to her situation. Instead, in her deep anguish, she poured her heart out to God.
I wonder how she felt when the priest, watching her, accused her of being drunk. How would we have responded? Hannah could so easily have despaired at that point, or she could have turned on Eli. But, again, she chose the better way, answering him with such humility and grace that his heart softened, and he prayed that God would grant her prayer.
It was then that everything changed for Hannah. She gave birth to Samuel and rejoiced in having her longed-for child. But it was much more even than that. Hannah rejoiced because she was in the hands of a sovereign God, her once devastated sense of personal worth and value now wonderfully restored in Him. She joyfully testified, and gave a powerful source of encouragement to all those struggling with a sense of worthlessness and inferiority, that they should turn to the living God and put their hope in Him. She said, ‘He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honour.’
Perhaps the challenge God lays before us today is applying those same keys in our lives that led to Hannah’s victory and her joy. She allowed Him to do that precious work of raising and lifting her up. She looked to Him and displayed grace and humility throughout her suffering. She neither sank into passivity nor strove in her own strength. She turned to Him in the reality of her personal situation and prayed intently. Let’s ask Him for that same Holy Spirit empowerment to truly press into Him, and keep our hope firmly in Him, that He might truly raise us up from the ash heap of worthlessness to living in our inheritance as sons and daughters of the King.
Prayer: Father God, thank You for Hannah’s story and the inspiration it brings to me. I want to come humbly before You now and say sorry for those times when I’ve taken my disappointments and frustrations out on others. Thank You that through Jesus I’m forgiven. Father, would You fill me afresh with Your Holy Spirit today please, that I might learn that better way of humility and grace that Hannah chose, and take steps to walk out of passivity or striving in my own strength, that I might, instead, pour out to You the reality of my heartaches and struggles. I want to truly press into You, and keep my hope firmly on You, as Hannah did, and allow You to raise me up from this place of worthlessness to truly knowing in my heart my real worth and value in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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