By Kami Zumwalt
Psalm 127:4 - Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.
Having arrows in my youth sounded like a great idea. Little ones you could dress up, pour into, and teach all about the things of God. Shaping warriors while I still had energy for 3am feedings, and scrubbing crusted yams off high chairs sounded perfectly logical. What could be more fulfilling?
But after over four years of trying, we had still not conceived. My twenties gone, what I had hoped would come easy became a battle. Months of praying and waiting were painful. It seemed everyone was birthing beautiful babies except me. I knew God was never late, but it sure seemed like He wasn't in a hurry!
The day we did finally conceived, we were ecstatic. I recall getting on my knees on the bathroom floor and thanking Jesus for a positive pregnancy test. But at nine and a half weeks, during a routine check-up, my midwife couldn't find the baby's heartbeat. In a moment of time, all our dreams dissipated into a fog of despair.
My life felt behind schedule. Have you ever felt you were in a delayed season? Yet, here I found three powerful principles for dealing with barren, delayed seasons from the story of Hannah and Peninnah in I Samuel 1.
1. God's not late, He's merely making better plans.
We are not told exactly how many years Hannah waited for children. According to Jewish tradition, Hannah was Elkanah's first wife, and there is indication he only married Peninnah after ten years of Hannah's barrenness. Peninnah apparently was a baby making machine, smugly rubbing Hannah's barrenness into an open wound which could never quite heal. Peninnah was not a woman you would enjoy having under your roof. Verse 6 says, “Moreover, her rival, to make her more miserable, would taunt her that the Lord had closed her womb.” This went on for years.
Imagine Hannah's heart’s turmoil…she was being replaced! Peninnah continually provoked her until we find Hannah weeping in the temple, pouring her heart out to God. It’s here we find Hannah's hideaway. Prayer is her palace of peace. Her hideout from hurt. In the right time, Hannah would birth no ordinary boy.
Samuel would be a prophet to change history. Was Hannah's battle so great because of the impact her son would have? Was God preparing Hannah to be the kind of mother who could go through purifying fire and still attest to the goodness of God?
No, God wasn't late. He was merely making His plans even more glorious. Samuel would rise to be one of the greatest prophets in history, ushering in a new era under David's reign.
For me, it was seven years before I first held my screaming Ruth Jael in my arms. (She's still quite particular and beautiful.) My second darling, Eliza Jesse, arrived a couple years later. And my son, Zeb, is now six months old. I still gaze at them in wonder at God’s faithfulness. What's amazing is I'm now forty, and God's given us opportunities and favor I didn't have years ago. My children are reaping the benefits of a new season. It was worth the wait!
2. Peninnah’s serve a purpose.
I can imagine Peninnah prancing her prodigies in front of Hannah at the breakfast table, asking Hannah when she would have little faces to wash and little feet to chase. It was a miserable situation. Hannah must have been tempted to wonder, “Why can't my life be like hers?” “Why is Peninnah blessed with babies when she's nothing but mean and smug?” “Haven't I done things God's way?”
Truth is, Peninnahs can't prevent Godly purpose. All the provoking, pain, and plotting of this woman would not prevail. Peninnah’s name actually means "pearl", depicting a profound picture that even what the enemy uses to antagonize and provoke you, God will to create a thing of beauty if we continue on with God's plan.
We all have Peninnahs in our lives…women who have judged us, others who were jealous of us, or simply set themselves up as rivals. The effects of Peninnahs are well-wielded by the enemy. His hopes being we will fall for the trap of comparison, longing for someone else's life. Hannah's life would never look just like Peninnahs. How could it? It was uniquely fashioned by God Himself.
3. Waiting seasons are humbling not hindering
Looking back, I can see the beauty of waiting. Even though the process was painful, it changed me. My relationship with God before there was literally never any silence in my house, is something I treasure. Those were not wasted years…they changed me forever.
Did Hannah's waiting season change her? Of course! And, though her deepest longings were to have a child, we find her devotion to God even greater, as she fulfills a vow she made in prayer. Once Samuel is weaned, she takes him to live with Eli the priest.
Wouldn't it be tempting to cling to this baby? I'm not sure I would have made it a day without peeking through the temple windows, bringing my baby morning glory muffins. Yet Hannah is in peace, trusting her greatest treasure into the hands of God.
God met her in a profound, yet unplanned way. So much so, that she joyfully gave her Samuel to His work.
Hannah found God is enough. If you’re in a delayed season for children, or any dream of your heart, trust Him. His plans are always better than anything we can muster up ourselves. God delays are really detours leading you to your destiny.
Kami is a forty-year-old pastor's wife, living in a farmhouse, raising two girls under six and an adorable six-month-old baby boy. She's a prophetess, women's pastor, prayer warrior, published freelance writer, and homeschool mom who loves antiques, tea cups, chocolate truffles and empowering women to live free and fulfilled in Christ. Follow her on Instagramand Facebook.