One man. Two wives. One is beloved, but barren – that’s Hannah – and the other has children. The mother/wife is aware of Hannah’s heartbreak and needles her about being childless, provoking her. Hannah goes to the temple to cry in bitterness and plead with God.
In the musical Old Testament Records, this song, “Why Not Me?” begins rubato, with just a single saxophone and Hannah’s wail of agony:
Oh, why, Lord? Oh, why am I barren?
If she can have children, why can’t I? Why?
…and then the drums begin! (This is where we pick up the song.)
The story of Hannah is found in 1 Samuel 1.
When I contemplated composing a song for Hannah, I expected to have a quiet song of sorrow. To learn about the pain a woman feels when she is childless (but not by choice), I spent a couple of weeks reading posts from women on infertility forums. In reading these posts, I found that while the deepest feelings were of course sadness, hurt and pain, many would-be mothers carried significant frustration and anger about remaining childless. And who wouldn’t? If I desperately longed for something, know I’d be good at it, did everything possible to make it happen and yet – through no fault of my own – it DIDN’T happen, of COURSE I carry frustration and anger… (and that’s why this song has a driving drumbeat!)
I know for myself, it is safer to feel anger and frustration than to openly display the depths of sadness, hurt or pain… Allowing those feelings to come to the top makes me feel too vulnerable, so – like most people – I tuck those feelings under the anger-blanket just so I can feel safer. In “Why Not Me?”, Hannah sings her frustration, but also peels back that blanket to reveal her deepest pain and longing.
At the end of the song, we see on-stage (through projected video clips) that Hannah’s prayer is answered. Hannah is shown keeping her promise and taking her young son, the boy Samuel, to serve in the temple.
Can you imagine?!!
So what is the lesson for our day? God is aware of our needs and our sufferings. He is ever-mindful. Need a prayer answered? Get to the temple.
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