There’s nothing like a romantic comedy on the big screen to stir longings in our heart. We dream of a courageous, drop-dead-gorgeous guy who will sweep us off our feet. We imagine the bliss of escaping the mundane, leaving the pain of the past and the stress of the present far behind. In our secret hopes, we yearn for a life-long, passionate relationship that will satisfy the deepest needs of our soul. But, we live in a broken world with unmet expectations and imperfect relationships. Are you wondering how to handle unmet longings and broken relationships God’s way? Let’s look at the life of Hannah to see how she handled grieving her deepest heart desires while she depended on God’s presence.
Maybe for you, you’ve already met your Mr. Right. You’re dating or you’ve walked the aisle to say, “I do.” And yet now, after sharing life side by side, he’s beginning to look like Mr. Wrong. You find yourself thinking,
Prince Charming wouldn’t leave his underwear on the bathroom floor.
My true love would gaze into my eyes instead of at his phone screen all the time.
If he wasn’t so selfish, he wouldn’t make me do all the work around here.
I don’t think my husband has a clue about the dreams or goals I carry inside.
I’m tired of coping with tough things on my own—why won’t he stand up for me or show he cares?
Whether we’re married or single, each of us knows the struggle and strain of life in a broken world. God’s Word invites us into the story of a woman, Hannah, who faced hurts you and I can relate to. First Samuel describes Hannah’s “Mr. Right” and the struggles she faced:
“There was a certain man from Ramathaim…whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none. Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the Lord Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the Lord. Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb. Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat.” (vv. 1-7)
Recognize the broken places
Infertility and empty arms. A mocking rival. Shame and disappointment. Hannah suffered year after year with no relief in sight.
Maybe you, too, know the grief of unmet longings. Perhaps you too are wounded by infertility. Or your education, career, or ministry were put on hold. Maybe your critical mother-in-law lets you know you’ll never be good enough for her son. Your rebellious teen—or stubborn toddler–won’t listen to a word you say. No matter how carefully you budget and plan, you can’t make ends meet. You moved to a new community where you’re homesick and lonely. Life is simply too hard to bear.
Hannah’s husband looked at her pain and, bless him, offered the Hallmark movie solution to his wife:
“Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” (v. 8)
He spoke out of the common false belief that a human relationship can fully meets the needs of the heart.
This is where we step onto dangerous ground. When we put our happiness and security into someone else’s hands, we’re bound to get hurt. The pressure to offer perfect comfort, encouragement, validation, and affection is a weight too heavy for anyone’s shoulders. When they fail to live up to our expectations, we can grow deeply bitter and hold back our love in return.
This was a tough lesson for me. I carried a truckload of baggage into our marriage. When I met my caring, attentive husband I was sure he would offer the unconditional love I craved. I placed him on an impossibly high pedestal that of course set him up for a fall. When I realized he had his own needs and weaknesses and was—gasp—only human, I turned my energies from loving him well into protecting myself from pain. This pushed us farther and farther apart until we didn’t know how to draw close together again.
Release your pain to The Giver
What I needed was to pattern my perspective not after Hannah’s husband, but after Hannah herself. Instead of crying and pouting and laying blame at her husband’s feet, she went to the One who could truly change her life.
“Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up… In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli [the priest] observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard.” (vv. 9-13)
What did Hannah do? She stood up and moved herself into the presence of God. In her prayer she got real with Him about her needs, her emotions, and her greatest desires. She placed every hope in God’s hands and trusted Him to fulfill them in His way and time. And, in her heart she determined to give God’s gifts back to Him, the Giver.
As the story goes on, God does answer her prayer for a child. He gave her several, in fact! And Hannah kept her vow to place her son in God’s hands for life. We see her move from grieving and weeping to singing a prayer of praise:
“My heart rejoices in the Lord;
in the Lord my horn is lifted high.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
for I delight in your deliverance.
“There is no one holy like the Lord;
there is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.” (1 Samuel 2:1-2)
Depend on His presence
Today, let’s remember that yes, God created marriage to provide great blessing in our lives. But He longs to be our first love. He is the one who never leaves our side. He is the Father who gave his only Son to die so we could live with him forever. In relationship with him, we’re never ignored, rejected, or shamed. He hears every word of prayer and sees every tear we cry. He will “satisfy us in the morning with [His] unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” (Psalm 90:14)
God’s love is richer and better than any love we’ll ever know.
What’s amazing is that as we draw close to God and are filled with his love, we can love our husbands like never before. Instead of giving love to get love in return, we can love with pure, selfless hearts like Christ. Our insecurities and fears give way to courage that never gives up. The Spirit bears fruit in us so we can be enduring, kind, and gentle. We’re set free from critical spirits. We lay our grudges down. We focus on what is good, right, and “worthy of praise” in our husbands instead of how we can “fix” them. (Philippians 4:8)
God’s love puts a fresh love in our hearts that can transform our relationships beyond what we imagine.
Let’s lift our eyes up from our relationships and circumstances and fix them on the lover of our souls. In him, we’ll find everything we need.
So often I look to others to find what only you can give. I feel heartsick and hopeless as my needs and dreams are never satisfied. Today, grow my capacity to understand the depth of your love for me. Teach me what it means to draw close to you and depend on you for everything. Help me to place all I have in your hands, holding nothing back. Protect, provide, and be my source of strength. Let your love fill me up and overflow onto everyone in my life. Fill me with joy as I know you more and more. Amen.
3 Bible Verses for Restoring Broken Relationships
- 1 Samuel 2:1-2: “My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance. ‘There is no one holy like the Lord there is no one besides you there is no Rock like our God.”
- Matthew 11:28: “Come to me all who are wear, and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
- Romans 15: 5-6: “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Joanna Teigen is the co-founder of Growing Home Together, whose passion is to help your family love well, trust in God, and shine a light to a broken world. As an author and podcast host, Joanna partners with her husband Rob to create practical tools to care for the soul of your family.
She is the co-author of several marriage resources including the popular Mr. and Mrs.: 366 Devotions for Couples. For parents, her titles Powerful Prayers for Your Son and Powerful Prayers for Your Daughter offer targeted prayers for whatever your kids may face as they grow. Her latest project, 101 Prayers for Women, will encourage you to seek God in every moment. Discover more at GrowingHomeTogether.com.