“It came to pass in the process of time” - 1 Samuel 1:20
Time is a slippery thing. I’m convinced that the older you get, the faster the ticks start tocking.
Is there a benefit to the long experience of time, even as it flies faster? Yes! Perspective. Wisdom. Patience. And so much more.
Hannah is a hero of mine. Her story in 1 Samuel 1-2 is... beautiful. But that assessment might come so easily to me because I get to see things unfold all at once. We move from one scene to the next without pause or delay. It takes mere minutes and minimal muscular contraction of the eyes to consume this Bible character’s content and to have a healthy perspective on her story with God. We know today that her personal pain was a necessity of international significance, as her son would be the Prophet Samuel who would anoint King David, who would produce Jesus, who would save us all.
But she - didn’t - know - that.
Let’s allow her to be more than just a Bible character for a moment. She was a person like you and me. She struggled with infertility, misery, grief, anguish, and the myriad of all of those implications in daily life, her relationships, and her inner world.
When you step into those shoes and consider the very personal nature of what the Bible describes for us, her story becomes remarkably relatable. She described herself to the priest Eli by saying, “I am a woman of sorrowful spirit,” speaking from the pit of her pain and the silence of her God. This is a treacherous trail we are all destined to tread in life.
So what perspective can we gain on our own story from Hannah’s? Just zoom in on the timing. We are told that it was “year by year” that she cried out to God at the temple for a child. Not days, weeks, or months. Years.
How long have you been waiting on God? How long have you cried out in confusion? How long have you worshipped while wrestling? How long have you persisted through pain? “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?...” (Psalm 13:1)
We’re also told that it was God himself that had done this to her. He sovereignly set the stage for her grief. “The Lord had closed her womb.” And then allowed the pain to persist for years.
What kind of person creates an environment of pain for someone they supposedly care about?!
Good Parents do. We correct our kids to free them from greater pains of other kinds.
Good Doctors do. The pain of surgery is intended to spare us from greater suffering and loss.
Good Generals do. Sometimes the rescue requires the sacrifice of soldiers.
God does too. If we can trust on a human level that situations exist where the weight of pain is necessary for a good beyond our knowledge, wisdom, or personal benefit, then God can be trusted with our pain. For years.
The answers to our questions of “Why?” rarely, if ever in this life, are revealed until “it came to pass in the process of time.” But time does pass - even though pain can make it feel like a cruel version of a slow-motion replay.
So again, I ask, what do we do with this?
We trust. We pray. We worship. We wait. “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7)
We can be confident that God’s will is good and His heart is gold. He has proven it to be so on the Cross with His own pain. At Golgotha - the place of the skull - we see His immense suffering, encountered and conquered, from His good will and golden heart. Isaiah 53 tells us that His pain was our pain. The truth we cling to, like the cords on a parachute, is that there is no struggle in your life that Jesus doesn’t shoulder with you and promise relief from “in the process of time.”
So don’t lose heart today as you wait. Keep worshipping and wrestling. We can experience Hannah’s story in minutes. But we likely experience our own in years. Hannah was faithful to worship in the middle. So let’s take Hannah’s hand and follow her in faithfulness in the middle of our stories today.
We can trust the wisdom and knowledge of our God, who suffered with us and for us. His cross stands as proof that pain can result in the best of things.
P.S. If there is a way I can be helpful to you or if I can simply join in prayer with you - I would be honored to hear your story today.