Coping with Adversity—Lessons from Hannah and David

The first step in coping with adversity is to commit personally and wholeheartedly to worship and serve God. Resign to his resolution of the adversity, and commit to living in his image, representing him in every human interaction, such that your actions and words radiate Godliness and elicit positive response from others. Furthermore, resigning to the will of God may include applying human effort to accomplish what you can while seeking his intervention. God will intervene to guide us out of adversity but expects us to apply human effort as part of finding the solution. Because the nature and timing of his intervention are generally not known a priori, we have to actively seek solutions at the human level in order to position ourselves to receive and utilize his intervention.

CLICK PICTURE TO PLAY VIDEO

Download or Play Audio

Download PDF

 

 

 


Samuel handed to Eli
Samuel handed to Eli
Sweet Publishing
FreeBibleImages.org

We continue our study series on Samuel with a study focused on understanding how his mother Hannah coped with the adversity of childlessness. Hannah’s experience leading to the birth of Samuel was dominated initially by her bitterness due to not having a child after several years of marriage. Her husband’s other wife sought to take advantage of her condition. In contrast, her husband was kind and sympathetic and sought to comfort her into accepting barrenness. Hannah, therefore, was alone in seeking a solution to her problem. She dealt with the problem initially by nursing self-directed bitterness that she showed by weeping and often refusing food. However, one day during her family’s annual trip to worship at the tabernacle in Shiloh, she decided she could not continue to bear the problem in her heart. She took the problem to God in prayer and appeared to have left it with him because her demeanor changed completely after the prayer.

We examine her experience in this bible study to understand how she transitioned from wilting under the weight of childlessness to a feeling of being completely relieved of the problem even when there had been no humanly observable change in her situation. Also, we use the opportunity to revisit a previous bible study on David coping with adversity brought on him by virtue of a rebellion led by his son, Absalom. We see that lessons from Hannah’s experience and the lessons from David complement each other and provide useful insight into what a Christian can do to cope with adversity.

From both, we learn about wholehearted commitment to worship and serve God and total resignation to God’s resolution of the adversity in his way and at his time. From Hannah, we learn about living in the image of God as a manifestation of the commitment. And from David, we learn about diligence in human effort while resigned to seeking God’s solution through his intervention.

Wilting in Bitterness

Hannah dealt with the adversity of childlessness initially by nursing self-directed bitterness. She was unhappy that she did not have a child at that point in her marriage. As we discuss in a previous bible study under Birth of Samuel, her husband’s other wife sought to take advantage of her condition by bragging to her frequently and provoking her to be miserable. Furthermore, although her husband was kind and loving to her in several ways, he added to her misery unwittingly by urging her to accept barrenness. Therefore, Hannah was all the more unhappy because of loneliness in seeking relief from the adversity of childlessness. She was bitter, wept frequently, and often refused food.

My yoke is easy My burden is light
My yoke is easy My burden is light
New Harvest Ministries Intl Inc
FreeBibleImages.org

She was at this stage trying to bear the burden of childlessness by herself through human emotion. However, God does not want us to shoulder any burden by human effort alone. He wants us to yield each burden to him in exchange for his that he promises will be much lighter for a human to bear [Matthew 11:28–30]: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” To bear his “burden” requires a personal and wholehearted commitment to worship and serve him. Hannah appears to have made such a commitment during her fateful prayer at Shiloh: “So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh … And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish” [1 Samuel 1:9–10].

Wholehearted Commitment

Wholehearted Commitment
Wholehearted Commitment
New Harvest Ministries Intl Inc
FreeBibleImages.org

Hannah took her problem to God in prayer: directly, privately, and wholeheartedly. She was so focused in the prayer that she appeared lost to her environment. She was so fully absorbed in prayer that the chief priest Eli misunderstood her and thought she was drunk. She prayed for a son and vowed he will be dedicated to serve God full time through all his life. After the prayer, she “…went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad” [1 Samuel 1:18]. The change in her demeanor bore witness to an occurrence in her heart during the prayer. There had not been any humanly observable change in her condition. She still did not have a child. Nor did she become pregnant during the prayer.

Her demeanor changed because of a spiritual and personal interaction with God during the prayer. She took her burden to God in prayer and left it with him in exchange for a commitment to “bear his yoke.” That is, she made a wholehearted commitment to worship and serve God and realized that the problem that caused her bitterness all along now was in God’s hands. She now knew that God will cure the adversity in his own way and time. So she was no longer troubled. She was relieved and happy. And she “…went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.”

With all your heart
With all your heart
LumoProject.com
FreeBibleImages.org

MOST IMPORTANT COMMANDMENT A wholehearted commitment to worship and serve God is at the core of a person’s relationship with God. Moses presented it to the Israelites as the commandment that binds all commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” [Deuteronomy 6:5]. Christ describes it as the first and great commandment [Matthew 22:37–40]: “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

 

Abraham with son Isaac
Abraham with son Isaac
FreeBibleImages.org

Hannah made a commitment to worship God with all her heart. Her commitment led her to vow that if God gave her a son she will return the son to serve God full time through all his life. She made the vow as a specific promise within the context of her general commitment to worship God with everything she had. Similar to Abraham promising to sacrifice his son Isaac. God did not let Abraham proceed with sacrificing Isaac, because all he wanted from Abraham was unwavering commitment to worship him. The promise to sacrifice Isaac was simply a demonstration of Abraham’s commitment to worship and serve God. Similarly, what endeared Hannah to God was not the promise to return her son to serve God full time, but the fact that she made the promise in fulfillment of a wholehearted commitment to worship and serve God.

RESIGNED TO HIS PURPOSE Wholehearted commitment to worship and serve God includes resignation to the will of God. Hannah was happy at the end of her prayer because she understood that God will resolve her adversity in his way and at his time and she accepted the resolution without knowing how or when it would manifest. As we discuss in a previous bible study under Birth of Samuel, her prayer for a son that will be dedicated to serving God full time aligned with God’s purpose for a unifying spiritual and political leader for Israelites. Because she resigned to the will of God, the Holy Spirit led her to understand her problem in terms of a solution consistent with God’s purpose.

Hannah responds to Eli
Hannah responds to Eli
Sweet Publishing
FreeBibleImages.org

LIVING IN THE IMAGE OF GOD A wholehearted commitment to worship and serve God includes a promise to live in his image. Living in the image of God implies representing him in every human interaction such that your actions and words radiate Godliness and elicit a positive response from others. Hannah was presented an opportunity to live up to this promise immediately after her prayer (maybe even before she completed the prayer). Chief Priest Eli misunderstood her behavior as she prayed. He thought she was drunk and scolded her [1 Samuel 1:14]: “…How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!” Through her response, she conveyed respect, humility, and promise of obedience to Eli, notwithstanding that he had just scolded her in error for drunkenness [1 Samuel 1:15–16]: “No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now.” Her response moved Eli to join her prayer without knowing the prayer points: “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him” [1 Samuel 1:17].

Samuel serves under Eli
Samuel serves under Eli
Sweet Publishing
FreeBibleImages.org

TEMPORARY BARRENNESS A short time after her interaction with God at Shiloh, Hannah conceived and had a son that she named Samuel. After the child was weaned off his mother, she handed him over to Eli: to live, grow, and serve in the house of God at Shiloh. Hannah conceived several times more and had three sons and two daughters. She really was not barren by any stretch of the imagination. It appears instead that God used her temporary barrenness to provide a son dedicated to his service.

Role of Human Effort in Coping with Adversity

Our study of Hannah’s experience leads to an understanding that coping with adversity requires wholehearted commitment to worship and serve God. The commitment includes resignation to the will of God. That is, you recognize and accept that God will resolve the adversity in his way and at his time.

PREPARED FOR GOD’S INTERVENTION However, being resigned to the will of God does not mean sitting on your hands. As we discuss in a previous bible study under Peter Escapes from Herod’s Prison, God will intervene to provide solutions to our problems but expects us to apply human effort as part of finding the solution. Because the nature and timing of his intervention are generally not known a priori, we have to actively seek solutions with human effort in order to place ourselves in position to receive his intervention. That is, we work diligently because we have faith that he will intervene and we want to be ready to accept and utilize his intervention.

David departs Jerusalem
David departs Jerusalem
FreeBibleImages.org

DAVID PREPARES TO BATTLE ABSALOM We learn an example from David, regarding what he did to cope with adversity brought to him by virtue of a rebellion led by his son Absalom. As we discuss in a previous bible study under Absalom Rises Against His Father David, he resigned to the will of God while taking steps to prepare to fight the rebellion. David declared for the will of God, saying that he will either return to Jerusalem later or stay out permanently depending on how God would decide the matter: [2 Samuel 15:25-26] “Then the king said to Zadok, ‘Take the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the Lord’s eyes, he will bring me back and let me see it and his dwelling place again. But if he says, “I am not pleased with you,” then I am ready; let him do to me whatever seems good to him.’” Additionally, to prepare to battle the rebellion, he sent supporters to infiltrate Absalom’s organization in Jerusalem to gather information and influence the enemy’s decision making apparatus.

Therefore, we learn from David’s experience that resigning to the will of God may at times include applying human effort to accomplish what you can while seeking God’s intervention. He may choose to intervene by directing your human effort through incremental accomplishments that ultimately lead to resolution of the adversity.

Summary of What We Learned

Based on Hannah’s interactions to cope with the adversity of childlessness, we learn that the first step in coping with adversity is a personal and wholehearted commitment to worship and serve God. The commitment includes resignation to God’s choice for resolving the adversity, in his way and at his time. Also, the commitment includes a promise to live in the image of God, which implies representing him in every human interaction, such that your actions and words radiate Godliness and elicit a positive response from others. Furthermore, based on David’s interactions in coping with the adversity of a rebellion led by his son, we learn that resigning to the will of God may at times include applying human effort to accomplish what you can while seeking God’s intervention. God will intervene to guide us out of adversity but expects us to apply human effort as part of finding the solution. Because the nature and timing of his intervention are generally not known a priori, we have to actively seek solutions at the human level in order to place ourselves in position to receive and utilize his intervention.

More Information

Please watch this bible study on video at VIDEO_LINK , listen to or download the audio at AUDIO_LINK . You can also download a PDF copy of the PowerPoint presentation from PDF_LINK.

4 thoughts on “Coping with Adversity—Lessons from Hannah and David”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s