Benefits of Your Barrenness
Sermon Text: Hannah's story in 1 Samuel 1:2-2:21
Usually when we think about Hannah, no doubt we think about her prayer for a son. Hannah’s barrenness served a purpose. At the time, Hannah couldn't understand it, but she understood it later.
When we speak of women being barren in the Bible, it is usually in reference to a woman being childless. However, the word “barrenness” means being unproductive, as well as being unfruitful. There were several women in the Bible who were barren in the womb and even though they didn’t have children at first, they eventually did have children. Such women include Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah in the Old Testament and Elizabeth in New Testament. God worked through their barrenness for His greatest good.
God worked through their barrenness for His greatest good.
Body of Sermon
We know the background of the story about Hannah who was married to Elkanah. While Hannah was barren, the other wife, Peninnah was the one having all the children. For this, Peninnah taunted and teased Hannah until Hannah couldn’t take it any longer.
So when the family went to Shiloh once a year, Hannah’s husband would feel sorry for her and would give her more meat than anyone else. However, this did not ease Hannah’s aching heart and her sorrowful spirit. While at Shiloh, Hannah prayed through her shame. She prayed through her disgrace. She prayed through her aching heart and sorrowful spirit. She prayed so fervently that the priest thought she was drunk because while she was praying her mouth moved, but no sound came out.
When the priest realized what Hannah was doing, he blessed her. Hannah went her way and worshipped God even before her son was born. We should do the same. We are tremendously blessed when begin to thank God even before the manifestation has taken place.
When we worship God, it is a down payment on that thing we have been praying for.
Special points from Hannah's story:
- Notice that Hannah never lashed out at Peninnah, the other wife. What she did is what we should do. She prayed to God who could handle her situation.
- Notice that Hannah prayed not a generic prayer. She did not pray for material things. She did not pray a “Bless Me Prayer.” She did not pray for a child. Instead, she prayed a specific prayer that God would give her a son. Often we beat around the bush for what we want. While God can sort out our requests, He wants us to pray for the exact thing we want. Hannah did just that.
- Notice that Hannah went so far as to say she would dedicate her son to the temple. Hannah was willing to give the first fruit of her womb, and God blessed Hannah’s barrenness to the point of giving her three additional sons after Samuel and two daughters.
Here we have a woman who was barren when we first meet her, but God brought purpose to her barrenness. God had a purpose for Hannah’s barrenness. And certainly, He has a purpose for your barrenness as well.
When Hannah was praying for a son, she was responding to a purpose God had already placed within her. God has placed a purpose in each one of us, and nothing we do will ever satisfy us until the purpose is fulfilled. Hannah wanted a son, not for herself, but Hannah knew within her heart of hearts that her son would be instrumental in doing work for God.
Hannah wanted a baby for a higher purpose. Hannah’s purpose was tied to her son’s purpose. Her son’s purpose was tied to the purpose of so many others because at the time Israel was also barren.
Hannah’s desire to have a son was to bring about God’s ultimate’s plan. God needed someone special He could work through to bring forth a prophet. God allowed Hannah to be temporarily barren so He could bring a greater blessing to Israel when the time was right.
Samuel was dedicated to the temple as Hannah had promised. After he was weaned around the age of 3, Hannah took him to the temple to live with Eli at Shiloh where it all started. Samuel became a prophet, priest, and judge. Samuel was the one who looked for Saul, the first king of Israel. He was the one who anointed David whose lineage continued through Jesus Christ.
The Bible mentions only one New Testament woman who was barren, and like Hannah, she was barren for God’s purpose.
Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah prayed for a male child. The devout couple couldn’t understand how they were serving God, yet they were childless. However, in the fullness of time, Elizabeth did conceive and her son’s name was John. We know him as John the Baptist. God could have opened up her womb and given her a child long before He did, but God’s had a purpose for Elizabeth’s barrenness.
God opened up Elizabeth’s womb to have a baby at the right time so John the Baptist would be the forerunner of Jesus Christ. This wouldn’t have worked had John the Baptist been born early or later.
God planned it so John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus in four areas:
- In his birth
- In his baptism
- In his preaching
- In his death
When John the Baptist was beheaded, Jesus knew His time was near. God had a purpose for Jesus to come to earth when He did. Israel was barren and had expected the coming Messiah long because He came. It was in the fullness of time that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried, and on the third day, God raised Him from the dead.
You might be going through a period of temporary barrenness right now. Know that God is in charge of your barrenness. Know that God is working things out for your greatest good, His greatest good and the greatest good of those around you.
Part of Hannah’s story is in all of us. For you see, we are all barren or have been barren in some area of our lives. Since “barrenness” is the absence of fruit, if you are not bearing fruit, then you are barren.
If you are not producing fruit in your church, you are barren. If you are not producing fruit in your ministry, you are barren. If you are not producing fruit in your marriage, you are barren.
Galatians 5:22-23 gives us the nine fruit of the Spirit. If you don’t have love and if you are not loving, then you are barren. If you know deep down within, you are barren in the love department, acknowledge that and begin reading everything in the Bible about love because God is love and those who abide in God abide in love and God abides in them according to 1 John 4:10.
If you don’t have joy, then you are barren. If you don’t have peace, then you are barren. Acknowledge your area of spiritual barrenness, pray about it, find God’s grace, go your way and worship like Hannah did.
Remember what Jesus did to the fig tree that was full of leaves, yet it wasn’t bearing fruit. In other words, the tree was barren. Jesus cursed the fig tree. You don’t have to be cursed. You, like Hannah, can be blessed instead.
If you are barren, it is for God’s purpose.
You might be barren today, but you can live on purpose. You might be barren, but God has a purpose for your barrenness.
You should pray to God fervently like Hannah because James tells us that the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous availeth much. (James 5:16)
Your barrenness can be turned into blessings. Trust that God will use your barrenness for the greatest good.
God truly does have a purpose for your barrenness. The purpose is not just for you. It might start with you, but surely it will not end with you.
Acknowledge your barrenness. Pray like Hannah, but leave the final results up to God.
Did this sermon help you understand the reason for your barrenness?
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