I am Hannah, mother of the prophet Samuel, from the Old Testament. I was in a polygamous marriage, and as if that wasn’t hard enough, my husband’s other wife, Peninnah, could have children, but I could not. Peninnah would tease me for being infertile because she was jealous that our husband loved me more than he loved her.
Every year we went to the temple. One year, Peninnah was so cruel, I wept bitterly and couldn't eat. My husband tried consoling me by asking, “Am I not better to thee than ten sons?” Of course he was a good husband to me, but the love a woman has for her husband and the love she has for her children are not quite the same, and I wanted to experience that motherly love more than anything.
I finally couldn’t take it anymore. I went to the temple alone and poured out my soul in prayer and tears. I vowed to God that if He would give me a son, I would dedicate my son’s life to the Lord. Eli, the temple priest, told me to go in peace and blessed me that God would answer my prayer. The peace and faith I felt were so strong that I knew the Lord would. My bitterness left, and my appetite returned. [After I spoke, it hit me that perhaps she had been fasting.]
After one last trip to the temple, we went home. That very same night I conceived! Although for years I had cried unto God for this blessing, it wasn’t until I had a humble heart and was willing to sacrifice the very thing I wanted that the Lord gave me what I desired—and so quickly.
After Samuel was born, I wanted to wait until he was weaned before taking him to his new home. I cherished this precious time with him, holding him and nourishing him. Once he was old enough, I kept my promise and took him to the temple to stay. Every year when we visited, I would bring him a coat I made.
It was hard letting him go and not being the one to raise him, but I sang in joy and praise to show my gratitude. The Lord blessed me even further for my sacrifice. He gave me three more sons and two daughters! And Samuel grew to be a great and faithful prophet who restored order and worship to our people and counseled kings.
Because of my experience, I offer you the gift of grace, the meaning of my name. It was through the Lord’s grace from His atoning sacrifice that I was able to make and keep my covenant with God, to trust in His timing and love, to no longer be sad, to forgive Peninnah, to endure life without my firstborn, and to know Samuel would be mine again someday.
My prayer for you from the past is that you rely on the grace of Jesus Christ to help and strengthen you in times of trial. Grace isn’t meant just for repentance. You can access this divine power at all times for all needs, whether it be comfort, increased faith, a softened heart, or a weakness made strong. If you continually apply His grace, then you will be able to do whatever He asks of you, and you will receive every blessing He has promised you.
Discussion: What else can we learn from Hannah's story?