by Shelbi Cullen
“In this life, you will have tribulation…” (Jn. 16:33).
Suffering … must we?
A Biblical Example of Suffering
There are numerous people in God’s Word who suffered well under provocation, for our example, encouragement, and hope (Rom. 15:4). Hannah is a wonderful example who lived during the time of the Judges, one of the darkest times of Israel (1 Sam. 1).
In Hannah’s story, you learn quickly of her suffering. Scripture reveals her husband as a polygamist — an example of those who took a second wife because of a lack of faith when their first wife was unable to bear them children (Gen. 16:2-3, 30:3-4, 9). Hannah suffered profoundly in her barrenness; she lived in a society where a women’s worth was found in bearing children. Peninnah, the other wife in her household, cruelly provoked and ridiculed Hannah for her inability and barrenness (v. 6).
Similarly, women today suffer from unfaithful & uncaring husbands, barrenness, ridicule, and provocation.
Hannah’s Response to Her Suffering
Hannah, though deeply distressed by these circumstances, did not grieve without hope. Rather, she pursued the Lord, pouring out her soul in prayer to God Almighty, the Giver of life (vv. 10-11, 15). In faith she casts her burdens and great anxieties upon Him and leaves them at the altar demonstrating a faithful and patient trust in a Sovereign God (vv. 15-18).
Suffering Well in Our Own Trials
In the same way Hannah sought the Lord’s help in prayer and casting her burdens upon Him, believers nowadays are exhorted to “Humble themselves under the mighty hand of God, so that at the proper time, He may exalt you in due time, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:6-7).
Like faithful Hannah, we are to throw on the Lord like a blanket our anxieties, discouragements, disappointments, and even our suffering. Instead of worry and doubt, we must see God as Sovereign, Good, and Mighty like Hannah did.
God Responds in Suffering
The Lord is not indifferent or cruel when the believer experiences difficult trials. Rather, He is compassionate and long-suffering, “Just as the Father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.” (Ps. 103:13-14).
God uses suffering to drive believers to Him, to turn their doubts to faith in His promises and belief in who He says He is in His Word, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn your statutes.” (Ps. 119:71).
Hannah responded in confidence, believing God would answer her in accord with what is was best for her. Her attitude exemplified her humility, faith, and trust. Let us learn from her example in our own suffering as we acknowledge God as the All-Powerful One who cares deeply for His children then acts by going to God humbly in prayer, worship, and casting their burdens upon Him.