We will have struggles here, even as God’s children. But God cares for us even when we don’t have it all together.
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. (Psalm 62:8, ESV)
“How long are you going to stay drunk?” (1 Samuel 1:14 NIV)
Had I been in Hannah’s sandals, I’m not sure how I would have answered Eli when he asked that question. There she was, pouring out her heart to the Lord—“praying,” as she put it, out of her “great anguish and grief”—and the priest thought she’d had too much wine!
Again, I don’t know what I would have said. But I can imagine how Hannah felt.
Looking at the fragments of her broken dreams—a barren life she neither wanted nor expected—Hannah had to have wondered:
Had God abandoned her? Did he know what she was going through? Did he even care?
We know, of course, how the story turns out. When Eli finally realizes what’s going on, he gives Hannah a blessing (“Go in peace”), along with a prayer (“May God grant you what you have asked of him”). Hannah gets up and—fast forward three verses—she gives birth to a baby boy. (1 Samuel 1:9-20 ESV)
It can be tempting to summarize Hannah’s story as quickly as it’s told in the Bible: Suffering woman gets answers to prayer.
That recap is true. But if that’s all we take from this tale—that God hears our prayers, including those wordless petitions when, like Hannah, we can’t find our voice—we risk missing a deeper, more remarkable, message:
God can take it.
God cares for you. God can handle our complaints and confusion. He can take our questions and grief. He invites us to bring him our disappointment, our weariness, and even our fears. “Pour out your heart before him,” the psalmist writes. “God is a refuge for us.” (Psalm 62:8, ESV)
Pour Out Your Heart
Pour out your heart before him. Over and over again in the pages of Scripture, we see God’s people doing just that.
“How long?” David asks. (Psalm 13:1-2 NIV)
“Why?” Job wonders. (Job 3:11 ESV)
“I knew it!” Jonah yells. “I’m better off dead!” ( Jonah 4:1-4 MSG)
Having poured out my own heart to the Lord—wrestling with everything from big sorrows like my father’s too-early death to the pop-up losses that color our everyday lives (the best friend who moved, the child cut from a team, the sickness that stole a whole season)—I will admit to having more questions than answers when it comes to the pain God permits.
I do know, however, that God never leaves us to struggle alone.
God Cares For You
He offers himself as our burden bearer. (Psalm 68:19 NIV) He promises to be with us so we don’t get burned by our trials or swept away in a storm. (Isaiah 43:2 NIV) And sometimes, in his mercy, God reveals the purpose in our pain. “This happened,” Paul writes after things got so bad that he and his companions were sure they would die, “that we might not rely on ourselves but on God.” (2 Corinthians 1:9 NIV)
When Hannah received Eli’s blessing, she had no way of knowing whether or not God would give her a son. But she knew her prayer had been heard—and when she left, her face, the Bible tells us, was “no longer downcast.” (1 Samuel 1:18 NIV)
We can experience the same transformation.
Like Hannah, we have a high priest, one who bears our grief and carries our sorrow. (Isaiah 53:4 ESV). Jesus invites us to come into God’s presence; he offers ready access to God. We don’t have to hang back, wrestling with our pain or our questions. Instead, we can pour out our hearts to the Lord.
We can “walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give.” (Hebrews 4:14-16 MSG)
In His Word
“With my voice I cry out to the Lord;
with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord.
I pour out my complaint before him;
I tell my trouble before him.” (Psalm 142:1-2 ESV)
“Pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord,” says Jeremiah (Lamentations 2:19 NIV).
In Your Life
Have you ever “poured out your heart” in God’s presence? How might the knowledge of his nearness—that God hears you, and that he is with you—equip you to trust him, even if your prayers and your questions are not yet answered?
Take a few moments to reflect on Christ’s role as your “burden bearer,” and then take him up on his invitation: Cast all your cares—including your questions, your worries, and your unmet desires—on him, knowing that God cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7 ESV)
Read more about praying during seasons of disappointment and grief (plus thirty other topics, from relationship needs to finding freedom from worry and fear) in Praying the Scriptures for Your Life: 31 Days of Abiding in the Presence, Provision, and Power of God. With short, easy-to-read chapters, this devotional book invites you to read, reflect, and respond as you trust God in every area of your life.
Connect with Jodie on Instagram and via her email newsletter, and please visit jodieberndt.com to access free resources like printable prayer cards and calendars, encouraging videos, and study guides for group or individual use.