Hannah: Portrait of a Longing Soul
A wonderful portrait of a woman with a longing soul is found in the age-old story of Hannah. There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim, of the hill country of Ephraim, named Elkanah He had two wives, one named Hannah, and the other named Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none. This man went from his city year by year to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh When the day came that Elkanah sacrificed, he would give to Peninnah his wife, and all her sons and daughters, portions [of the sacrificial meat]; But to Hannah he gave a double portion; for he loved Hannah, but the Lord had given her no children. [This embarrassed and grieved Hannah] and her rival provoked her greatly, to vex her, because the Lord had left her childless (1 Samuel 1:1-6).
As we consider Hannahs story, we find that she had one great longing she wanted a son; however, God had a longing too. He wanted a prophet who would live for Him all the days of his life. God wanted a servant in this earth who exerted so much power that none of his words would fall to the ground. In order to fulfill His purpose, God allowed a barren womb within a woman whom He knew He could grow a deep and passionate cry (a cry that refused to be satisfied with anything except a child).
As I was writing this article, the Lord spoke a word into my spirit. He said: My eyes were not upon the fruitful wife Peninnah, but rather upon Hannah, the barren wife."
God had a wonderful destiny for Hannah; however, she knew nothing of His hidden plan. All Hannah knew was a barren womb, and the pain of Peninnahs mocking and ridicule which embarrassed and grieved her. Unfortunately, this taunting and harassment went on year after year as Elkanah and his family went to Shiloh to worship the Lord. Peninnah provoked Hannah so unmercifully she would weep and refuse to eat (1 Samuel 1: 7).
Hannahs weeping eventually became a desperate cry. And [Hannah] was in distress of soul praying to the Lord, and weeping bitterly. She vowed, saying, O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your handmaid, and [earnestly] remember and not forget Your handmaid, but will give me a son, I will give him to the Lord all his life; no razor shall touch his head (1 Samuel 1:10,11). Hannah had no inkling God had allowed her barren womb (1 Samuel 1:6). She knew not that her barrenness would create a cry so deep and desperate within her she would make a vow to the Lord; a vow that if He gave her a son, she would give the boy back to Him for all the days of his life. Consider this: Hannahs desperation for a son became so strong she was willing to give up her greatest desire and give her child unto the Lord.
As you can see, Hannahs barrenness had a divine purpose attached to it. In time, she received the longing of her heart. And more! So much more! Not only did she receive a boy child whom she named Samuel, but God, secured for Himself a man in the earth able to fulfill His divine purposes. Samuel grew up to be both a prophet and judge. He was used of God to lead the nation of Israel through the difficult moments of transitioning from the time of the judges into the era of the Kings. Not only was Hannah blessed with the son she longed for, her barrenness was broken and the Lord blessed Hannah with five more children.
Hannah portrays for us a riveting prophetic picture of a soul that has a deep longing to bring forth great exploits for the Kingdom of God, and yet feels barren and unfulfilled. Take note of the fact that I used the word feels. What we consider to be unfruitfulness/barrenness God many times sees differently. He sees the cry that is growing within our spiritual womb, and He knows the final outcome of that precious cry.
I sense that Hannah is perhaps one of the greatest prophetic pictures of the end-time Bride of Christ; for I perceive that by divine intent, God has allowed seeming barrenness to be the state of much of His Bride (who is carrying within her spiritual belly a destiny far greater than her wildest dreams).
As already stated, barrenness is with divine purpose. Spiritual barrenness has the power to create a desperate cry a cry that cant be stilled or stopped or satisfied with anything else but God Himself. Barrenness within our heart will cause us to follow hard after our Beloved. (See Article The Longing Soul Part 1). God inspired longings woo us into the destiny God has ordained for us. For you see, once we fully surrender ourselves unto the Lord, we find that our desires have changed in purpose, conforming to the perfect will of God (which is far greater than our expectations). We then, similar to Hannah, come into alignment with Gods eternal plans and glorious purposes for our lives.
As with Hannah, Gods destiny for us is much greater than our unfulfilled desire. He wants us to become wholly His. He passionately desires us to come into a depth of union with Himself that will produce more than a ministry. Always remember, it is not what we do for God that matters so much, as who we are becoming. His vision for us is to become a glorious Bride who has been transformed into the image of His Son. Once this transformation has taken place in our inward parts, out of our spiritual belly will flow rivers of living water. These rivers of living water are the solution to that which our world is desperately in need of today.
There is only one way for this supernatural river of life to proceed out of our innermost being: We must maintain vital living contact with our Beloved. For me, John, Chapter 15, is one of the most precious chapters in all the Word of God. These words were spoken by Jesus just prior to His crucifixion, making them a portion of His last words thus giving them special meaning. Hear the cry of His heart (knowing He was about to leave His followers):
Dwell in Me and I will dwell in you. Live in Me and I will live in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me. I am the Vine, you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me cut off from vital union with Me you can do nothing. If you live in Me abide vitally united to Me and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will and it shall be done for you (John 15:4, 5,7).
We can readily ascertain from this passage our Beloved has longings too! His longing heart of love is moved toward us with overwhelming, indescribable desire. In these words spoken by our Lord, we discover that the longing of His heart is for vital living union with His followers. The heart of Jesus burns for His Bride to become one with Him. He desires for His people (His Bride) to abide (remain, dwell) in Him; keeping themselves continually in a state of living communion and unbroken fellowship.
Is Your Heartbeat For Him?
When we step into eternity, the thing that will matter the most is not what we amassed in this life, or how successful or accomplished we became. The only thing that will matter is the depth of the relationship we had with God during our sojourn in this earthly life. Was He the passionate longing and cry of our heart, the object of our affections? Did we love Him above all others? Did our life become so intricately bound with His, that we were transformed into His glorious image? Did we follow hard after Him, no matter the cost?
Only you and your Beloved know the answer that lies in the secret chamber of your heart. Remember, God looks at our heart and sees everything that is taking place inside us. He sees the movements, resolutions and intents of the heart. In Gods eyes, our heart speaks louder than our words! It is by who we are in our heart that He knows us. God knows those who are carrying within their inward parts a deep longing for their God, and a cry to fulfill their God designed destiny. For these, like Hannah, God will fulfill those longings to the uttermost!