Hannah had patiently endured years of Peninah’s public mocking. Even though Hannah was Elkinah’s first and most beloved wife, it was Peninah who had been given the position of matriarch in their home, for Peninah had proven a fertile second wife, and provided Elkinah with many heirs. Hannah had born no children at all. Similarly, Zechariah’s wife Elizabeth was much loved, but had remained childless.
In that ancient time, a woman’s honor came through her children. Even today, there is a deep ache for those who long to have children and have been unable.
Jesus, the Redeemer, also remained unmarried and childless. Though as the oldest brother in His home, He knows what it is to be in a family, and even to raise up children, He still understands the sorrow of not bringing forth a family when one is deeply desired.
God answered Hannah’s longing with a son, and several children after her firstborn Samuel. God also brought the joy of a son to Elizabeth and Zechariah. But that is not always God’s way. Sometimes, God Who knows and understands our weakness and woe, does not deliver us from our pain, but rather delivers us through our pain. God may sanctify us in this life with long quiet suffering, giving us the hope of eternity to hold in our hearts.
O Savior, Child of Mary,“Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming” German carol (15th century)
Who felt our human woe,
O Savior, King of glory,
Who dost our weakness know;
Bring us at length we pray,
To the bright courts of Heaven,
And to the endless day!
We exalt You, O Lord our Redeemer, for You have reclaimed us from sorrow and woe as the end of our story. We look forward to the bright courts of heaven where You have given us a new destiny.