Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hannah’s Heart: Learning to Deal with the Pain of Life

A sermon based on 1 Samuel 1:10-20 and preached by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett at Faith Community Church, Barre, Vermont on Mother's Day, May 9, 2010.

Background on this passage:

  • Hannah was married to Elkanah, who was both wealthy and deeply spiritual.
  • Elkanah also had a second wife, which was a source of ongoing tension in the home.
  • The other wife had children, but Hannah had no children. In their culture, this was considered a negative mark against the Hannah.
  • This story takes place when the family went to the tabernacle to worship.
Verse 10 - Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the LORD and wept with many tears.
  • Hannah had a strong faith, yet she still had deep hurts.
  • Our faith does not erase our pain; it gives us strength to endure it.
  • Hannah dealt with her hurt through prayer and tears.
  • Prayer has the power to change our attitudes, our actions and our circumstances.
  • Tears at appropriate times are actually good for us.
The Miracle of Tears

  • Biochemist William Frey spent 15 years studying tears and found that stress-induced tears actually remove toxic substances from the body.
  • Crying reduces the body's manganese level, a mineral which affects mood and is found in 30 times greater concentration in tears than in blood.
  • Crying also reduces the endorphin leucine-enkephalin, which controls pain.
Verse 11 - Making a vow, she pleaded, LORD of Hosts, if You will take notice of Your servant's affliction and give Your servant a son, I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life.
  • Hannah did not just spend all her time crying. She made a commitment (vow) to the Lord.
  • When we are under stress, sometimes we make bad decisions that only make the situation worse.
  • What commitments do we need to make regardless of what our future may hold?
  • Do we pray for specific things or just general prayers?
  • Are we willing to commit to specific things or does that scare us?
  • Specific commitments keep us focused during difficult times in our lives.
Verse 12 - While she was praying in the LORD's presence, Eli watched her lips.
  • Eli was watching her pray, though she probably did not realize it.
  • We may not realize it, but others are watching how we pray through our troubles.
  • They want to know if our prayers work.
  • What do others see about the power of God in our lives?
Verse 13 - Hannah was speaking to herself, and although her lips were moving, her voice could not be heard. Eli thought she was drunk

  • Eli did not understand what she was doing.
  • People will not always understand how faith helps us in times of difficulty.
  • Eli thought she was drunk.
  • Sometimes people will think we are acting crazy in regards to our faith.
Verse 15 - Hannah replied "I am a woman with a broken heart. I've been pouring out my heart before the LORD."
  • Hannah may not have been understood by others, but she understood herself. She knew she had a broken heart.
  • Pain has a way of messing up our thinking. But when we pray and seek God in the midst of our pain, we find clarity in our own thinking.
  • Through prayer, we can understand ourselves better than ever before.
  • Hannah needed to get her frustrations off her chest and air her feelings.
  • As a believer, Hannah realized the first person to share her heart with was the Lord.
  • We tend to go talk to a person first. While there is an appropriate time to share our burdens with other people, we need to first learn the importance of pouring out our heart to God.
Verse 17 - Eli responded, "Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant the petition you've requested from Him."
  • At first Eli did not understand Hannah, but in the end, he did finally realize the depth of her pain, becoming a prayer partner with her in her time of need.
  • People can seldom understand the depth of our pain unless they have experienced the same thing in their own lives. But Christian friends will eventually see our deep need and join us in prayer.
  • Having a prayer partner is one key to finding peace in the midst of pain.
  • Therefore, we must not write off those who do not understand our pain the first time we share it. They will eventually realize our deep need and join us in praying through it.
Verse 18 - . . . Then Hannah went on her way; she ate and no longer appeared downcast.
  • Hannah worshipped, she prayed, she poured out her heart and it really helped!
  • Hannah then had to go on with her life.
  • Though her problem was not solved she did find peace and strength and was able to continue on with life.
  • Prayer can do the same thing for us.
Verse 19 - . . . Then Elkanah was intimate with his wife Hannah, and the LORD remembered her.
  • Hannah was loved by her husband, which helped her find a great deal of peace.
  • Having people in our lives who love us is very important for our emotional health.
  • Hannah was also remembered by God.
  • Realizing that God has not forgotten us is also very important for our emotional health.
Verse 20 - After some time, Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son.
  • It took time for Hannah's problem to be solved.
  • It takes time to find real solutions to the problems of life.
  • God gave Hannah a son, which was an answer to her specific prayer.
  • God will give us answers to our specific prayers if we give God time.
Verse 20 - . . . She named him Samuel, because she said, "I requested him from the LORD."
  • The name Samuel has two interpretations. "God has heard" or "a son of God."
  • However we want to interpret it, God heard Hannah's prayer and gave her a son.
  • Hannah gave the glory to God by the name she gave her son.
  • Will we give God the glory when He answers our prayer & meets our need?
  • Our faith does not erase our pain; it gives us strength to endure.
  • Prayer and commitment to God changes our attitudes, our actions and our circumstances.
  • Talk to God about problems first, and then find a godly prayer partner.
  • Remember the love of others and of God.
  • Give difficult situations time and give God the glory every step along the way.


  1. The sermon today was powerful! Thank you for the words this morning, they touched me!

  2. Terry,

    I enjoyed your Mother's Day sermon very much! Thanks for sending the link to me. Keep on preaching, Terry!


    P. S. I quoted excerpts from your posting of 4/15/2010 in my Mother's Day sermon at New Covenant yesterday.

  3. Terry,

    I enjoyed your Mother's Day sermon very much! Thanks for sending the link to me. Keep on preaching, Terry!

    I quoted excerpts from your posting of 4/15/2010 in my Mother's Day sermon at New Covenant yesterday.