Are you a “glass half full” or a “glass half empty” kind of person? Some of us are genetically wired to be “half full” people; we have this tendency to look on the bright side of things and be full of hope, and some of us aren’t. Some of us see hopelessness in every situation, no matter what.
These people can see a single cloud against an utterly blue sky backdrop and are convinced a storm is coming. They start to cough, diagnose themselves with pneumonia, or feel a slight pang in the chest and call 911, declaring, “I’m having a heart attack!” It almost seems as if some of us are genetically linked to that famous character from Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, who says things like, “Thanks for noticing me.”
True, our natural ability to hope is often affected by our life experiences. Some people have had a more challenging life than others and are generally less hopeful. They see the glass of water as half empty because that is what they have experienced before.
Most of us probably fall somewhere in between. Our current circumstances will dictate where our hope “meter” points. Our hope meter runs high if things are going well in life; if things are not so good, the hope meter runs low.
Hannah was an audacious hoper.
Hannah’s story is found in 1 Samuel chapters 1-18. Now, you can read the official version for yourself, but here’s a summary. Hannah was married to a man named Elkanah, and she had captured his heart. Their marriage started like most marriages, with the promise of a life of happiness and the expectation of little ones brightening their lives, which was a big deal in ancient times.
Many believed that the more children you had, the greater God’s blessing was on your life. And if you had no children, that meant God had cursed you. So Hannah and her husband intended to have lots of kids. However, as time went on, people would ask Hannah and Elkanah when they would have their first bundle of joy and say, We’re trying. They watched Hannah’s sisters have kids, and Elkanah’s brothers build more rooms in their homes to house growing families. Eventually, the friendly questions became backbiting whispers because it appeared that Hannah had been cursed with barrenness.
So, like Abraham and Sarah, they took matters into their own hands and followed the custom of the day, which was, if a woman could not have children, her husband could take a second wife by whom he could have children. This was just a custom, not something God-sanctioned.
So Elkanah married a second wife name Peneniah, who began having kids immediately. She soon realized that Elkanah loved Hannah and that the only reason she was in the picture was to produce children. She was, understandably, upset. So in retaliation, she relentlessly mocked Hannah for her barrenness and made Hannah’s life miserable.
Even though Hannah was her husband’s favorite and had all the privileges of marriage without the risks and responsibilities of children, barrenness was more than she could bear. Amid her private hell, she went to the Temple to worship God anyway. Even though it appeared like God wasn’t answering her prayer, the culture said she was cursed, and every time she went up to the Temple, Peneniah would mock her and remind her that she was blessed with so many children.
That’s audacious hope. That’s hope that says God’s not dead. Hope has a confident expectation in an all-powerful God who is at work to redeem every evil circumstance, turn it around and bring good out of it for His children. It’s hope that dares to worship God in the face of the enemy’s attempt to kill, steal and destroy our lives.
Godly hope is extraordinary.
Hannah’s desire for a child was so strong that any ordinary, healthy kid would do. As she wept in the Temple and worshipped, she prayed the following bold prayer:
“And she made a vow, saying, ‘O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head’” (1 Samuel 1:11).
Now God had something more in store for Hannah than giving birth to an ordinary child. He wanted to bless Hannah, and all of Israel, with the mighty prophet Samuel.
Audacious hope often receives supernatural, daring answers. Keep on praying because God’s delays are not denials, and His “no’s” are simply because He has a better “yes” in mind. Remember, God can do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:20).
“Eli (the priest) answered, ‘Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.’ Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast” (1 Samuel 1:17-18).
And with that, something changed for Hannah. She went from being full of anxiety to calm, from sorrow to joy, and from doubt to trust. Her immediate circumstances hadn’t changed, but her countenance had. She had the peace of God, and her audacious hope turned into an expectation of God’s supernatural, brave answer.
Indeed, hopelessness often steals our desire to pray. It says, Why bother? I’ve prayed and prayed, and it seems like God isn’t answering. But without going to God in prayer, we are already defeated. Jesus encouraged us to be persistent when we pray to experience a breakthrough. The prophet Daniel continued his prayer for 21 days, even though he did not get a response immediately. The angel of the Lord sent to him explained the delay in Daniel 10:12-13.
Hope has the audacity to keep on praying because it knows there is a fight to be won. So keep praying because delays are not denials.