Could it be that regal Hannah, adored wife of Elkanah, mother of Samuel, esteemed woman of the Bible, had a tantrum?! Well, she did have a lot going on... She had haters... she was miserable... and she spent years just going through the motions...The scene is set for a dramatic outcome when we find Hannah on her family’s yearly pilgrimage to the tabernacle with her rival. For Hannah this is no pleasure cruise. Samuel Chapter One describes Hannah’s life such as it was.
“Her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb...So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord... she wept and did not eat.”
In her misery, she marginally existed in a deep depression. Her haters had provoked her to neglect herself, neglect her blessings in her adoring husband and to neglect God. Wow! Has this ever happened to you? It has me. Have you ever wanted something so badly that the desire for it overshadowed all of the countless beauty and provision in your life? Have you found yourself unable to see the forest of your abundance and blessings through the trees of your misery and perceived lack? Could this state possibly have been caused by the very wanting of that one thing that God has not given you?
As I write, the scene of the epic tantrum of Veruca Salt in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory comes to mind. In the midst of her rather theatrical performance of a tantrum for not getting the golden goose the second she laid eyes on it, she inadvertently wills herself into the garbage and possibly the furnace. Veruca’s epic tantrum is a graphic depiction of the disastrous consequences of clinging to the immediate satisfaction of a desire.
How can I possibly compare regal Hannah and tragically spoiled Veruca in the same light? They were both mired in misery, driven by an unmet desire and to be fair, they both had become their own worst enemies. Here is the difference, Hannah went to worship in the tabernacle.... She moved through her despair enough to get to the altar. For years, she may have robotically gone through the motions but at least she went through them. She continued to make the painful pilgrimage with her family to the tabernacle, she may not have known why or even have wanted to, but she did. So, in essence, this going through the motions served to pave the way to her breakthrough. Even in her misery, Hannah moved toward God. She may not have felt uplifted by her alms-giving. She may not have felt connected to the presence of God. She may not have felt anything... In her movement towards Him, Hannah’s tantrum became sacred. In the tabernacle, Samuel describes her desperate state, “she was in bitterness of the soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish.” It was not pretty but it doesn’t have to be when you bring your anguish to the cross. Let me ask, are your tantrums sacred? We all experience being provoked by the less-than-kind. We all have stressors and we all lose site of the forest of God’s love and abundance when we focus on what we do not have. Suffice it to say, we all unfortunately miss the mark in caring for ourselves and worshipping with a pure heart when we are weighed down by our issues.... This is divinely human. We walk the thorny earth and suffering is an integral part of our experience but does it distance us from God or does it grow us toward Him. God clearly spoke, audibly spoke, to the Apostle Paul on this subject about Paul’s human desire to have the thorn in his flesh removed. Let me spell it out. God said to Paul,
“My strength is made PERFECT in your weakness.”
In our society, weakness is not okay. It must be fixed, treated, medicated, replaced or God forbid, nipped, tucked or shopped away. And all to0 often, unlike Hannah, we bring our misery to social media, our therapists and unfortunately those whom we love most. We use so much energy misappropriating our misery, that it holds us captive and robs us of our life. How many years will we spend clinging to our misery and going through the motions?
If this is you, it is time for a sacred tantrum!
How did Hannah do it?!
For starters, she plaintively asked God for what she wanted, while in the same breath offering it back to Him. She was not asking in selfish desire, like Veruca. Hannah laid her heart bare at the altar with a knowing in the truest sense that God was Lord of all. Secondly, Hannah quietly spoke to God in her heart. She didn’t use Facebook, a therapist or a pastor. She got quiet with Him, within.
“Now Hannah spoke in her heart, only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard.”
Imagine how much negativity we could recall if only we followed this simple, serene practice. How many complaint-ridden conversations with colleagues or friends would you take back if only in the moment you could have been moved to simply share your misery with Him?
The thing about sacred tantrums is that they are messy... So messy that she had to explain to the priest who thought she had been drinking!
“I am a woman of sorrowful spirit...[and] “have poured out my soul before the Lord.”
The best thing about Hannah’s sacred tantrum is the happy ending. The pure peace and fulfillment derived from the conclusion of Hannah’s sacred tantrum experience is God’s gift to us and to her. Coming to Him with our misery, undoubtedly reaps an almighty assurance of comfort. In God’s arms, we become children again trusting the classic Disney film outcomes that all becomes well. The happy ending of Hannah’s story reads like a fairy tale.
“So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.”
I love this ending! Miraculously after years of misery, Hannah wipes the tears off her face, rises up and leaves the tabernacle with her head held high and full of life. After a dramatic climax in the tabernacle only moments ago, Hannah experiences a radical transformation. A better RomCom storyline could not have been invented by the best writers in Hollywood. So have your sacred tantrum. Have it with God. Bare your soul and your misery to Him. Offer your petitions and let Him be the author of your life and finisher of your misery.
Written by Rebecca Fox Wheeler