(This post is a giveaway!) A good story transcends time, culture, and history, grabbing our hearts in a way no other medium can. A good story even has power to give a voice to the voiceless, hope for the hopeless, and the power to overcome hurtful words.
But no story offers entrance into the world of relationships like the greatest story ever told—the Bible. Full of romance, conflict, betrayal, and more, these true stories reveal the power of real love transforming the lives of real people. People just like you and me.
I’ve held my Bible close through the years, but it seemed to come more alive for me during a particularly traumatic time in my life. Somewhere in the midst of grief and healing from a crushing relationship, I found a story in the Old Testament that literally changed my life.
The True Tale of Two Wives
This story centers on a man named Ephraim and his two wives. (See 1 Samuel 1:1-20.) Peninnah had many children. And although Hannah had none, she had the love of her husband. These facts alone make the story ripe for conflict.
This true story is filled with lessons on both healthy and unhealthy behaviors for relationships. If the cameras of reality TV had been rolling in 1083 BC, these two women would have been catapulted into stardom, starring in The Real Housewives of Ephraim or perhaps guest stars on an episode of Sister Wives.
Imagine how the juicy storyline would have filled today’s social media:
“Poor Hannah—Unable to Give Her Husband a Beloved Firstborn Son.”
“Motherhood is hopeless for Hannah. Bring on the next woman!”
And if the shame of infertility wasn’t enough, Elkanah’s second wife, Penni—who was more than fertile—relentlessly flaunted her fertility. First Samuel 1:6 says, “Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her.”
The Bible Speaks Wisdom for Today
In order to irritate her. I really tried to give Penni the benefit of the doubt. She didn’t have it easy. But I finally realized I couldn’t sugarcoat Penni’s unhealthy, negative, hurtful presence in Hannah’s life. Penni was Hannah’s rival. Plain and simple, she was not a nice person.
Sadly, the world hasn’t changed. Mean-spirited people still exist. And they still purposeful work to hurt others with their words and behavior.
But Hannah’s story spoke wisdom to my story. Her response to her situation and to Penni, helped me know how God would have me respond to my own relationship trauma.
Hannah purposefully chose to respond in three ways: Hannah chose to pray, cling, and love.
The more Penni spoke hurtful words, the more Hannah opened her heart to God in prayer. The harder Penni pushed, the harder Hannah clung to God, with the same relentless pursuit. And the hardest thing Hannah did that has the potential to change everything? When Penni chose hate, Hannah chose not to retaliate.
When those in our lives choose to act in hurtful ways towards us, we too have a choice. We can choose to act in kind or we can choose love. Is it easy? Oh no. But it is empowering.
How do you respond the last time someone spoke words that hurt you? (Comment to enter the giveaway!)
Today’s post is by Janell Rardon, author of the new book Overcoming Hurtful Words: Rewrite Your Own Story. Hurtful words can steal joy, distort truth, and create long-term struggles with understanding your worth and purpose. In this powerful new book, counselor and life coach Janell Rardon, MA, equips you to address and reframe negative words and labels that have hurt you in order to achieve healing and lasting freedom.
Janell Rardon is an event speaker and board certified life coach (AACC) who specializes in marriage and family relationships, She loves nothing more than helping others speak healing words that help them live a rich, meaningful life. She loves traveling to Kenya with Tree of Lives, a non-profit serving the African family, with a particular interest in serving the Mamas of “The Joy Village,” a family-modeled orphanage to care for abandoned, abused and neglected children of Kenya.