"Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons? 1 Samuel 1:8; Like with Sarah, any Barren Women of the Bible series would be lacking without Hannah's infertility story."
Before the gun is jumped on the opening verse; no, a husband cannot fill a baby-shaped hole in a woman's heart. And God understands, He has noted in Proverbs 30:15-16, "...There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough: The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough."
Hannah's barren years MAY have been all or mostly down to the timing of Samuel's entrance into the world and her being inspired to embrace God's plans for her firstborn. People often consider if God is saying "Yes", "Wait", or "No / I've got other plans for you". It's clear Hannah got a "wait" response even though she didn't hear it until just before Samuel was conceived. I hope in my case there's a "wait" I am not privy to yet. Although, when I see what is going on these last days my heart goes in the direction of "No." So, while I float between "Please Lord" and "On second thought.." I wait by default. (See the third paragraph in this article: "The Role of Faith"; it can be hard to determine the answer even if it's coming to you.)
Those comments in the article I linked to, the ones the author mentions in the first paragraph, Hannah likely heard some versions of. Aren't we tempted to take what people say to heart, especially when we're already down and extra sensitive? Then we also hear comments like Elkanah's opening statement here, well meaning, but missing the magnitude of an empty womb. There are some highly sensitive husbands out there (as there are some highly insensitive), Elkanah is probably pretty average in that regard? Some males handle infertility so strangely in our eyes, they seem indifferent. Finally we have Hannah's sister wife, Peninnah, who was apparently keen to make jabs over Hannah's infertility. Just imagining all these voices in her life, *I*feel isolated! And to think, we have our own voice to contend with also!
In 1 Sa 1:15 the long waiting Hannah states what we know well, "I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit". I can only speak from my situation, I am not harassed by a sister wife or a sister for that matter. My husband is not as effected, but he understands more than he knows (he lost a wife and four children to a cult). He copes by doing his best to put them out of mind. I'm sure that is a daily practice. As for others, yes I hear some well meaning but hurtful comments occasionally. It's not common, thankfully. For the most part, hurtful words aren't an issue in my life. Other peoples having "it all" is only hard to watch on the rare extremely sensitive, hormonal day. (I did go through a bitter phase that was much worse!) Oh dear Hannah, she had to see her sister wife's children run around all day. Hannah had it worse than me, I am sure of that.
But I/we know "sorrowful" nonetheless. Infertility causes a grief that rarely gives us a calm sea. It's there rippling at least softly all the time (for me), similar to those first months after the death of a beloved relative or friend. There are times it's like a tsunami. Grief seems to be an enemy, we wish it away. While we're waiting, or done, what do we do with this grief? How do we live with this "hole"? We've talked about God using all situations for our eventual good. We know intellectually at least, there really is more to life than procreation and more to families than genetics. I remembering reading an article showing grief isn't the enemy, that grief IS part of coping. I could get very long winded here, but I'll split this one up instead. The next few weeks I hope to share some insight on grief and other aspects of coping with this sorrow, whether presently waiting or dealing with childlessness for a lifetime.
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