What To Do When You Are Overlooked
Have you ever been overlooked? Have you ever been misunderstood? Have you ever been falsely accused of something? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then I am glad you are reading this article.
Sometimes our needs are not met because we have been overlooked intentionally or unintentionally. A prime example of this is embedded in the story of Hannah that is found in 1 Samuel 1:1-20.
When most people talk about Hannah, it is in reference to her praying for a male child. While that is definitely a major theme in the story, it is not the only important thing that is embedded in Hannah's story.
Let's till the soil and dig beneath the surface to point out some of the other major points that often go unnoticed.
Hannah's story can be our story when it comes to being overlooked, misunderstood and falsely accused. Hannah was deeply sorrowful, upset, and perplexed because she didn't have any children. It was a disgrace during that time to be childless and especially a concern if a woman did not produce a male child for her husband. To make matters worse, the second wife of Elkanah had ten children, including sons and daughters.
Peninnah taunted and teased Hannah because she was barren while Peninnah herself was fertile. That disturbed Hannah and often brought her to tears.
Peninnah Teased Hannah
We read Hannah's story and think the events happened only once. However, her story is not a one-time thing. According to 1 Samuel 1:3 and 1:7, the family went to Shiloh to worship in the temple "year after year."
In other words, Hannah was accustomed to being overlooked by her rival. She was also accustomed to weeping and praying.
Elkanah Offered a Substitute
Not only did Peninnah provoke Hannah to tears, but Elkanah also was insensitive to his wife's feeling. Because she was not eating, he gave her a double portion of food. Hannah refused to eat. The food was no substitute for a son. It was not her stomach that was empty; it was her heart.
In 1 Samuel 1:8, Elkanah asked his grieving wife a series of four questions to which she did not respond to either one of them because she was weeping and praying.
- “Hannah, why are you weeping?
- Why don’t you eat?
- Why are you downhearted?
- Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?
Eli the Priest Falsely Accused Hannah
The third person who did not offer Hannah comfort was Eli, the priest at Shiloh. He misunderstood her and went a step further. He saw her lips moving but no words were coming out. In 1 Samuel 1:12-14, he accused her of being drunk when she hadn't drunk anything at all. He asked her a question and gave her a piece of advice.
- “How long are you going to stay drunk?
- Put away your wine.”
Of the three, which do you think was the worst?
Of the three, most people think the priest treated Hannah the worst because he falsely accused her without realizing that she was praying fervently from deep within and was not drunk. He was the man of God who should have known better, but he jumped to his own conclusion.
Hannah was hurt by Eli's accusation. While she didn't respond to Penninnah or Elkanah, she did give an explanation the the priest, according to 1 Samuel 1:15-16.
“Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”
The priest blessed Hannah. She went home very satisfied. God opened up her womb, and she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel “Because I asked the Lord for him.”
Hannah Kept Her Vow
Hannah kept her vow to God and dedicated Samuel to the same temple where she had prayed to have him. When he was old enough, she left him in the temple to work for Eli.
The priest didn't accused Hannah of drinking this time. He blessed her for her kind act. Because she kept her promise to God, He let her womb stay opened, and she gave birth to three more sons and two daughters.
What to Do When You Are Overlooked
So, what do you do when you are overlooked, misunderstand, and falsely accused? Do what Hannah did. Keep on praying. Even in the midst of your tears, keep on praying. No matter what, keep on praying.
Only God knows the depths of your heart. He will not overlook you. He will not misunderstand you. He will not falsely accuse you. Instead, He will give you the desire of you heart, according to Psalm 37:4.