lessons from Hannah in the Bible

The Story of Hannah in the Bible: The Pain of Infertility

I am so excited to introduce to you my sweet friend AnnMarie from Blessed Busy Women for our next post about mothers in the Bible. The story of Hannah in the Bible is a beautiful story of pain, hope, and faith.

Approximately 6.1 million women in the United States are affected by the struggle with infertility.  That is the entire population of my state of Minnesota!  With that great number, it’s quite possible you either have experienced infertility yourself or know someone who has. 

It’s an affliction that’s been going on since God created us and is well documented in the Bible.  I think we can call it an affliction because it is a very difficult thing to deal with affecting our mental health and our relationships.

There are quite a few instances of women in the Bible who were infertile, but I want to focus on the story of a woman named Hannah.  Hannah’s infertility holds the same heart-breaking sadness, frustrations, longing, and pain that still exist today.  There are lessons from Hannah in the Bible that we can apply to our lives.

learning to pursue peace

Pain of Infertility

Hannah’s circle of support was small compared to what we have available today.  There were no doctors to consult, no internet to ask questions and get answers, no wide-ranging support groups to lean on.

Motherhood might have been the deepest desire of many women in Bible times.  Bearing children (especially sons) earned her status and ensured the continuation of a family line and inheritance.  Along with keeping up the household, it was their highest aspiration.  To suffer from infertility was painful.

Come in time with me to the land of ancient Israel in the Old Testament where the culture is different, but hearts are the same. Where women experienced the same difficult seasons that we do and how their faith grew through them just as ours does.

What is the Story of Hannah in the Bible?

Hannah’s story is found in first book of Samuel chapters 1 and 2. Her husband Elkanah loved her very much, but her heart was broken.

How many years did Hannah pray for a son? The Bible doesn’t say exactly, but we know Hannah’s infertility went on for years.  Her husband’s extremely fertile and cruel second wife, Peninnah, taunted and provoked Hannah regularly to irritate her.  This caused Hannah such deep sorrow, that she would weep until she could not even eat.

How Hannah responds to her husband’s other wife shows godly character. Hannah could have retaliated against Peninnah.  She could have complained endlessly to her husband and railed against her situation as unfair.  But she did none of these things. She showed grace, humility, and restraint. She trusted that God knows and sees the deeds being said and done against her and leaves it in God’s hands.

Hannah’s Promise

Hannah’s misery comes to a peak at one of the required feast pilgrimages.  They were at the house of the Lord (this is before the temple was built in Jerusalem) and Eli was the High Priest.

Hannah “was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord.”  1 Samuel 1:10 NLT She makes a vow to God- if He will give her a son, she will give him back to God for His service.  She shows deep submission to God as she asks Him to pay special attention to her prayers for a son.

Hannah displays her powerful prayer life.  She prays silently and “in her heart” to God.  It reveals her intimate relationship with God, as prayer was typically done out loud.  She tells Eli that she was “pouring out her soul” to the Lord.

Hannah’s Signs of Spiritual Maturity

Eli notices Hannah’s lips moving and hears no sound, assuming she is drunk.  He publicly rebukes her for her careless use of strong drink. Hannah defends herself against this insensitive accusation and rightly protests that she was only in earnest prayer.  She asks him not to think of her as a “wicked woman”, but only one who is pouring out her grief and great anguish to her God.

Hannah’s words are noteworthy. Even when Hannah’s character is disparaged, she chooses to respectfully but firmly explain her situation to Eli.  She acknowledges his position of authority and shows him respect.  She could have lashed out in her deep sadness, anxiety, and distress but she shows spiritual maturity instead.

Eli senses Hannah’s earnest and honest spirit and tells her to “go in peace” and adds the kind response that he hopes God answers her prayer.  Feeling reassured, she leaves and returns to eat at the feast.

Hannah remained hopeful that God would answer her prayer, even though she had pleaded for many years for a child.  She trusted God with her hopes and dreams, wants and disappointments, and emotions.

Coping with Infertility

Hannah’s struggle with infertility shows us that is ok to grieve and be sad regarding infertility or any affliction.  Her great faithfulness in continuing to turn to God and her strength of character did not take away her strong emotions and desires for a child.  God did not rebuke her for being discontent in her infertility.  He understood her feelings and heard every fervent prayer she spoke throughout this difficult season of her life.

Hannah shows us that we can honestly express our desires to God.  Speaking out our desires, our pain, our frustrations and stresses can give us comfort, hope and peace in our sorrow and pain.  Hannah trusted God to work out the details of her life, and so can we.

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Hannah and Samuel

God answered Hannah’s prayer for a son, and at just the right time, she gives birth to Samuel.  God’s timing was perfect. He knew the exact timing needed for Samuel to be born and the type of mother Samuel needed.

Samuel grew up to be a great prophet.  He served as a priest and a judge.  God used Samuel to establish the kingship of Israel.  His important role in history was made possible by Hannah’s trust and faith in God’s timing.

Hannah waited in trusting expectancy for God’s timing.  She accepted His timing with patience, perseverance, and unwavering faith.

When Samuel was weaned, Hannah kept her promise to God.  She took Samuel to the temple at the annual sacrifice and brought the boy to Eli. He would spend the rest of his life in the Lord’s service.

Hannah was a woman who kept her word and promise to God.  Her highest joy was not in the child, but in God, who answered her prayer.

I would love to say that I could do the same in Hannah’s shoes, but I’m not sure I could.  But again, God knew Hannah and her heart and soul.  He always answers our prayers perfectly.

story of hannah in the Bible

Song of Hannah

Hannah’s response when leaving Samuel with Eli was not in tears and sadness, but in a prayer that expresses gratitude and praise to God.  You can read it in its entirety in 1 Samuel 2:1-10.

 It begins with:

She celebrates God’s holiness and strength and calls Him her “Rock.”  She recognizes that her Sovereign God often works contrary to what we want or desire, but also brings about surprising answers to our prayers.

In the end, she gives God the glory for guiding her feet on her path of infertility and recognizing that in life’s battles, it is not physical strength that wins, but relying on the strength of God. Hannah’s life teaches us that God’s plan is always perfect.

Lessons We Learn from the Story of Hannah in the Bible

Hannah shows us what grace, humility, and restraint look like.  She shows us deep trust in God to answer her prayers, and how to deal with those who are prideful, arrogant and foolish towards us.

Hannah’s powerful prayer life is one to emulate.  She pours her heart out to God many times.  Years and years of prayers were sent heavenward.  She did not waver.  She did not give up. I feel as if Hannah epitomizes the meaning of this verse: “Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous.  Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”  Psalm 27:14 NLT

Hannah’s Hope

Hannah’s name means “favor and grace” which sums up her story well. The lessons from Hannah in the Bible that have been left for us to glean are many but I think what I come away with most from Hannah’s journey of infertility is that she never gave up hope. 

She knew the character of God, who He was, and His great love and compassion.  She was not afraid to come before the presence of the Lord and make her requests known. Hannah’s heart was kind and respectful even during her sorrow.

She knew He heard her cries for a child.  She didn’t see the purpose in the waiting or the pain, but she trusted him to work it for His purpose.  Her hope in the Lord gave her the strength to rise above her infertility struggles.

Hannah’s story has been preserved in the Bible to show us what unwavering trust and faith look like.  She shows us how a spiritually mature woman reacts to adversity and pain.  She gives me hope that amid emotional, physical, or spiritual pain, I can remember her story and emulate her faith, trust, and hope.

One last note on Hannah’s status because the story doesn’t end there.

God opened Hannah’s womb and gave her a double portion or I guess you could say five times what she asked for because she kept her promise and was faithful to God’s service. Hannah’s pain was taken away. She was a good woman, worthy of our attention.

Are you experiencing any dry, barren situations in your life?  What aspects of the story of Hannah in the Bible speak to you?  What qualities of Hannah do you want to cultivate in your life?

Blessings in your Journeys,


Check out the other amazing mothers in this series!

In each of these posts, you will get another good Bible study showing God’s promise, His faithfulness, and how our actions and attitudes influence our lives.

From the mother of the prophet Samuel to the mother of the prophet Moses to a woman desperate for Jesus to heal her child and a woman living in difficult times, you will be inspired and encouraged by these stories and motivated to live your life in God’s service.

Persistence in the Bible: A Mother’s Faith

The Bible Story of Rebekah and Her Courage to Follow God’s Perfect Plan

Does God Test Our Faith? The Story of Elijah and the Woman of Zarephath

The Story of A Mother’s Sacrifice

Learning to Trust God in Difficult Times: Lessons from the Mother of Moses

Hello busy women!  My name is AnnMarie Anderson and I’m so glad you’re here!  This is a place to find encouragement and hope from God’s Word as you move through your busy life.  My prayer is to infuse God’s character into your everyday lives with short ( 3-5″) devotions and Bible studies every Monday morning. I’m always interested in ways to encourage you in your spiritual growth, so feel free to contact me and let me know what areas interest you!  You can also catch up with me on my social media channels listed below!   Blessings!

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13 thoughts on “The Story of Hannah in the Bible: The Pain of Infertility”

  1. Indeed. It such an eye opener to our faith in God. He can turn our frustrations to joy in His perfect timing. Let patience keep us moving.

  2. Thank you for the encouragement. I am currently at a fertility clinic and almost 43 with no kids. I have so much peace in my prayers and heart that God is busy working behind the scenes and in the interim I must have faith and be a blessing to those woman who are also struggling. I am a special needs teacher and working with disabled people bring so much joy to my heart. I can give them God’s love and show them that there is a God who love them unconditionally Amen❤️❤️❤️❤️

    1. I am so glad you found this encouraging! I hope all went well at the clinic. I am thankful that you have found such joy in being available to others. You are surely blessed.

  3. Hannah’s attitude and faith is such a wonderful example. While I never suffered from this, I can only imagine the heartbreak involved and yet she was full of grace even in her sorrow.

    1. I haven’t experienced this either, Fleda. But I was a L/D nurse, and I saw a lot of heartaches when tragedy would strike. I think there is something about infertility that always seemed so “unfair” to the ones who desire it so much! Hannah’s persistence and prayers are amazing.

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Hi, I am Heather! I am a mom of five, homeschooler, homesteader, and lover of all things chocolate. I am excited to share your faith and parenting journeys with you. Whether you are here looking to grow your faith, heal from loss, find homeschool resources, or hope to find inspiration in raising godly children, you are in the right place. So, grab your favorite hot beverage, curl up in your comfy chair, and stay awhile.

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