Tears in a Bottle


1 Samuel 1:1

I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow (v.16).

Lisa Linehan is on her way to the altar. She’s booked a wedding location, purchased a dress, and has even set the date. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a groom, even though she has “been out with 70 different guys” to find one. Here’s a peek into her thinking: “I get so excited thinking about this wedding. And I still hold on to the hope that my soul mate is out there somewhere. He has to be, right? I want to find him. I want to love and be loved . . . even more than I already do and am. I want a family of my own.”

Lisa’s blog entry reveals her deep longing for a husband, and it reminds me of another woman who desperately wanted the security of additional family ties. Praying at the temple, Hannah tried to cut a deal with God. She said, “If you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you” (1 Samuel 1:11). Making promises to God is one sign that our desires are desperate.

Another indicator that we’re in deep is when our emotions are involved. Eli the priest noticed Hannah’s feverish prayers—her lips were moving, but she wasn’t making a sound. He thought she had been tipping the bottle, but she said, “Don’t think I am a wicked woman. For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow” (vv.16-17).

Many of us know the heartache that comes from unfulfilled longings (Proverbs 13:12). But in the valley of that pain, we don’t have to submit to despair. The faithful love of the Lord never ends (Lamentations 3:22). And the same God who collects our tears in a bottle (Psalms 56:8) also causes everything to work together for the good of people who love Him (Romans 8:28).

—Jennifer Benson Schuldt


Read Proverbs 25:20 for insight into how not to help someone with a heavy heart. Read Isaiah 55:9 to see why our desires aren’t always fulfilled according to our expectations.


How might deep desires for things that might not be in God’s plans affect our relationship with Him? What unfulfilled longings do you need to discuss with Jesus?


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