1 Samuel 1 documents a heart-breaking situation. A man named Elkanah had two wives–Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, Hannah did not. Every year at the time of sacrifice to the LORD of hosts, Elkanah would give portions to Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters, but to Hannah he would give a double portion, “because he loved her.”
And her rival used to provoke [Hannah] grievously to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb. So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the LORD, [Peninnah] used to provoke [Hannah]. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. (1 Sam 1:6-7)
Some people are just mean. Plain and simple. They boast. They’re arrogant and rude. They enjoy rivalry. They will go out of their way to irritate. They’re skilled at crushing the spirits of others. They walk in the footsteps of Peninnah.
If you find yourself in the place of Hannah today, here’s a question worth thinking about: “To what (or whom) is that hurtful person driving me?” Some of us in Hannah’s position are driven to bitterness and isolation. Some of us attempt to mask the hurt with artificial, sometimes foolish “fixes.” Others of us are driven to deep-seated wrath and revenge.
Take a moment to admire and learn from Hannah today. Her rival used to provoke her grievously with one aim: to irritate. It went on, year after year after year.
And it drove Hannah towards God.
She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly. (1 Sam 1:10)
To what (or whom) are hurtful people driving you?