In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” 1 Samuel 1:10-11 NIV
During the COVID lockdown in 2020 I was on a conference call with other leaders in the Illinois Assemblies of God fellowship. Our guest speaker for that Zoom call was our General Secretary, Donna Barrett. Her topic was prayer but what she said that day gave all of us a perspective we all needed to hear. Many of us were struggling and some still are today with the ambiguity that surrounds churches and leaders. There are so many changes, slowdowns and uncertainties that it can bring great strain on a leader. What did she talk about? Lamenting before the Lord. Lamenting means to have great sorrow or travail that causes moaning and groaning. This would be what we call the ugly side of prayer. We are desperate, we are hurting, and we need God to do something. It is a cry to God for help. For me as a leader who was adding frustration to my plate each day, I needed to hear this. It was time for me to cry. God wanted to hear my heart and so after that call, that is exactly what I did. I got ugly with God.
Hannah in our text prayed to God out of her great trouble that was causing anxiety. Frustrated grief was pouring from her soul to the point that Eli the priest thought she was drunk. Now to be mistaken for someone who has been drinking to the point of displaying something like great trouble and grief, Hannah must have been using all her emotions as she poured out her lament to the Lord. The problem Hannah was carrying was heavy. We all know how this feels when the walls come crashing in. To others looking on, our problems may seem trivial or certainly not as bad as how we seem to be making them. But to those who are carrying the burden, it takes everything within you to keep it together. Hannah had been ridiculed to the point of feeling great shame for not being able to bear a child. That is what the world does. It points out your problem, your lack, your bad health or whatever the heavy load is to the point we must do something about it.
For Hannah, she poured out her soul to the Lord. She gives us a great example of lamenting before the Lord. God does not look down on us when we have had enough of our problem. Sure, we all want to be the warrior that stands up and takes it head on. I am amazed at how others appear to me when I am going through a lamenting situation. Everyone else looks like they have it together. The enemy can use this against you too. This is why we have to follow this story out. Hannah put herself in a position to receive. Even though she looked like she had lost it, she still put her problem in God’s hands instead of her own. The result? Samuel! God hears Hannah’s prayer, and she conceives giving birth to a future leader of God’s people. The very one who would anoint King David to rule and later his line be used to bring Jesus to the world.
Lamenting is part of a believer’s life and should not be shied away from. Crying out to God is part of the cycles of life. There are seasons of pain and struggle that simply will need a good cry before the Lord. When you have had enough and it feel as if you are about to break, go to the Lord with everything you have within you without ever worrying what others may think. Others may not completely understand, but God always will.