Read |1 Samuel 1|
"But he gave a double portion to Hannah, for he loved her even though the Lord had kept her from conceiving." (1 Samuel 1:5, CSB).
Hannah was a barren woman. She was a woman whose womb was shut. She was a woman who was unable to produce, no matter what she received. And in her time, as may be true today, she was considered the most pitiable of women. She suffered ridicule and scorn from her husband's second and fruitful wife Peninnah. And it is very likely, she also was the subject of scorn and or pity in her wider community. But early in the story of Hannah, before the miracle of reversing her barren condition, we see that though Hannah may have been barren, suffered scorn and pitied, she was also dearly loved by her husband Elkanah.
To experience love in a barren place (whether spiritual, emotional or otherwise) is such a humbling thing. What could you have done to earn it? Nothing. And that answer--nothing--taps into our deepest insecurities: can the love I did not earn be lost? Can the love I did not earn be taken away? A yes to any of these heart questions is almost too much to bear. So we secure ourselves by never fully embracing it and by bringing our handmade sacrifices, hoping they will be good enough to drive the fear away. But, they never are. With each sacrifice we feel the burden to offer yet another--and no peace. The only thing great enough to drive away the fear is love--the love we hold at bay. (1 John 4:18).
The barrenness Hannah experienced was God's will for a season. Reading her story, I can't help but think that this season of barrenness was also a season of opportunity. Love is such a robust thing--lacking nothing good and eternal--that in order to see its operation in our lives it needs a barren landscape. Much in the same way, that to fully appreciate the properties of light we have to see it operate in, across and against the darkness. How else could we know that love seeks not its own interests, if not for being incapable to produce anything that could add to it? (1 Corinthians 13:5).
Beloved, as you go through your barren season, know that God's love for you still abounds. Know that it is safe to embrace His love, because He has resolved to never remove it from you in Jesus Christ. "Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?" (Romans 8:35, NLT). His love is unconditional. Won't you receive the love God offers to you each day as His beloved, in Jesus Christ? It is in daily receiving His gift of love--here and now-- that we are made ready for the season of fruitfulness. It is in daily receiving His gift of love that we are given hope of bearing as He always intended--because we KNOW we are loved--not to be loved.
Dear Heavenly Father, help us to trust your love for us during this season of barrenness. May we have the revelations of your love you long for us to have. May these revelations birth in us expectation for a season of fruitfulness anchored in your love. In Jesus' name, amen.
Carolyn Sinclair McCalla is a daughter of God, with a passion for encouraging women to embrace the fullness of God's love for them in Jesus Christ. She leads the Be-Held Community: a group of women seeking, living and being transformed by the truth of God’s Word together.