You Were Worth the Wait
by Altovise Laster
“So Peninnah would taunt Hannah and make fun of her because the LORD kept her from having children. Year after year it was the same… Hannah would be reduced to tears and would not even eat.” 1 Samuel 1:6 - 7b
I always instantly connect with her when I read her story. She reminds me so much of myself. Year after year, I am also troubled by how my own story is unfolding. Year after year, I brood over unfulfilled dreams, lost hope, and undesirable circumstances. As each day ticks by, I get older, while getting married and having a family drift further out of my reach.
Then come the thoughts:
"Why is God making me wait so long?"
"Is this delay somehow my fault?"
"What am I doing wrong?"
"Am I not smart enough? Pretty enough? Kind enough? Spiritual enough?"
"When will I be good enough to be someone’s wife?"
These are the painful thoughts and dark emotions that haunt me. Late at night, these agents of torment come close to whisper lies. They come to tell me that I certainly am not good enough.
There are days when hope seems impossible (even a little ridiculous). I start to pick myself apart. "Am I too bossy? Too introverted? Too curvy? Too old? Too sensitive? Too late?"
Many years ago, God made a clear promise to me: "Yes, you will marry." But there are times I worry that I missed His promise. Did I overlook someone? Did my husband come into my life and I let him slip by? Again, did I do something wrong?
I love Hannah’s story NOT because she was also tormented by broken dreams but because Hannah’s waiting was not without a sweet reward. Like many of us, she cried out to God. She took her torment and laid it before His throne. Not only did God listen, He answered her prayer. God blessed her with a son whose name would be recorded in the Bible because of his righteousness. Her child, Samuel, became a great prophet, knowing the secrets of God and being blessed to deliver those secrets to God’s people.
But before that, Hannah had to wait. She had to wait because God had something big and unimaginable in store for her. Most importantly, she had to wait so she could tell others, “I cried out to my Father in my brokenness and He heard.” She had to wait because her baby boy was going to be no average boy. He would grow up to devote his life to doing God’s will. Hannah had to wait in order to understand the miracle of baby Samuel. The realization of this miracle compelled her to give him back to God in love. She also had to wait for Samuel to be born because he had siblings coming after him.
Here is the thing: Our brokenness matters to God. The Bible promises: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:18). The painful process of waiting is not hidden from Him. He knows every detail of our lives (Ps. 139:1-6). Like Hannah, like Sarah (Gen.18:9-14; 21:1-3), Joseph (Gen. 45:4-8), Job (Job 1:20-21; 42:12-17), and Simeon (Luke 2:25-32), the anxiety over our unfulfilled dreams will be changed into a beautiful tale of redemption. Our stories are carefully woven into the sweeping epic of humanity because God wants to use them to give hope to others. Our stories of waiting have the power to save a life, to comfort, to incite change. We may feel like failures, but the reality is that we are living, breathing testimonies of God’s infinite wisdom and love.
I can imagine Hannah now. After so many years of barrenness, suddenly something was going on in her body. I can imagine her smile as she touches her growing bump. I can imagine the twinkle in Elkanah’s eye as he watches his wife be filled with God’s peace. As he witnesses God’s power and tenderness toward Hannah. I can imagine Hannah giggling as she feels the beginning flutters of the miracle stretching and moving within her.
I can imagine the moment that she holds baby Samuel in her arms for the very first time. As he lay close to her neck, while listening to his soft breathing, I can imagine her saying, “This. This is what I have been waiting for.” And then, as she caresses the soft skin, smoothing his delicate hair and wrapping his warm body, Hannah looks into those eager eyes and whispers, “You were worth the wait.”
And so Hannah’s story takes me back to the night God spoke His promise to me. It reminds me that I, too, have to wait because God has something unimaginable in store for me. Because MY own miracle awaits. Because I also need to tell someone, “I cried out to the LORD and He heard my cry.” God’s distant promise will one day become a close reality and I, too, will whisper to my love,“You were worth the wait.”
Altovise Laster is an author and educator residing in Brooklyn, New York. She has a passion for the written word and is also a poet as well as an accomplished playwright. When she is not in the classroom, she finds joy in traveling and exploring the great outdoors.