Every year it’s the same saying, New Year, New You. The idea is that we are supposed to throw off last years cares and have a fresh start. However, that can feel unattainable when you’re weighed down by your past.
This is a concept that I’m all too familiar with. For many years I felt trapped by a past full of mistakes and regrets. Like a movie, those moments would just replay in my mind over and over. It wasn’t until I discovered one woman’s story that I learn that there’s more to my own.
Weighed Down By Our Past
I love the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1 because her story is a beautiful example of how God can redeem our past.
We meet Hannah early in this book who’s married to a man who dearly loves her named Elkanah. All appears to be going well in her story until we reach the end of verse two where we learn that Elkanah has a second wife and Hannah doesn’t have any children.
To make matters worse we learn in the verses to follow that Elkanah’s second wife has many children. So when the group travels to Shiloh to worship and make their sacrifice Hannah would be provoked by her husband’s wife for being barren.
Today, fertility issues are common for many women, however, in Bible times, it was a severe point of shame if you couldn’t bear children. Infertility was seen as a curse or punishment and many women would be divorced because of it. So for Hannah being barren was a point of shame, hurt, and fear.
Imagine having to carry this shame and despair year after year to what’s supposed to be a celebration. In the midst of worship, Hannah is weighed down by her past, feeling as though she’s not enough.
Move Into His Presence
We can find ourselves in the same position as Hannah as we begin this new year. There may be something in our past that’s holding us back and keeping us from experiencing God. Maybe it causes you to question yourself, feel guilty, or doubt your future.
When we find ourselves stuck, we have to move toward the Lord whose love and sacrifice covers all our problems.
This is what Hannah did – she decides to no longer stay in a place of shame, but go into the presence of her Father.
After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. (1 Samuel 1:9-10 ESV)
It was there as she laid down her shame and hurt in prayer and weeping that God met her.
When we surrender our past to God He is faithful to meet us in that space. His amazing love will break the chains from our past and redeem us.
Our God Redeems
Our God can do absolutely incredible things when we place our lives in His hands. In Him, we find peace, strength, and our mind and spirit are renewed. Colossians 3:10 says we are putting on a new self who’s renewed by knowledge into the likeness of our Creator.
There is nothing in our past that can keep us from the love of Jesus. He will use the parts of our past that bought us pain for His glory. Just as Paul wrote in Philippians 1:6, He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion.
He did it for Hannah.
As we continue to read her story Hannah becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son named Samuel. She later gives him to the Lord to serve under Eli, the priest. There Samuel grows in his vocation and faith and becomes a great judge in Israel. He goes on to be a prophet and anoint two kings in Israel, one being David.
There’s More to Your Story
Even though experiencing infertility was a season in Hannah’s story, it wasn’t the end. It was because of that stage that she sought the Lord and saw Him show up in her life.
Hannah’s story changed when she stopped allowing her past to define what God could do in her future.
Like Hannah, we find ourselves in a place where we can have a new beginning. We are able to lay down our past and trust in the future God has for us. Or we choose to be defined by the seasons in our story that have brought us pain and regret.
If you feel chained to your past, know that it does not have to have a hold on you. There is more to your story than what you see right now – God tells us this in Isaiah 55:9:
“For as heaven is higher than earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (CSB)
Let this be the year where you surrender it all to God and walk with Him into your future.
While we may not know what’s ahead, we can rest knowing our God does and He will never leave us. Your story has a lot more to it, turn the page and see what God has for you next.
About the Author
Jennifer Baker is a speaker and writer, who enjoys sharing her love for Jesus Christ with others. Born and raised in Dallas, TX she’s the oldest of three and graduated with a Bachelors from Texas State University. With a desire to be a magazine editor she started blogging to build her portfolio. Over time her blog grew and became her new dream. She now invites people to discover the presence of Jesus in their life through her website.
Aside from blogging, Jennifer is also a speaker and youth leader in North Texas. She’s started a teen discipleship group that meets weekly. As well as volunteers in the media department within the Senior Living Ministry of Covenant Church.