We learned yesterday that Hannah, who was married to a man named Elkanah, was unable to have children. Her pain was amplified by the fact that her husband had another wife named Penninah, and she seemed to have no problem getting pregnant. Despite the fact that Elkanah favored her and had a genuine love and affection for her, Hannah’s pain burned and led her to a place of agonizing jealousy. Even worse, Penninah knew how much her fertility bothered Hannah, so she “threw gasoline on the fire.” In fact, the Bible says that “her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat.” I can only imagine the nasty things that were said to Hannah, especially considering that her tormenter was envious of Elkanah’s heartfelt love for her. And though it’s easy to read this account and point fingers at the ugliness of their exchange, I wonder how many of us have ever used someone else’s misfortune as a means of making ourselves feel better? Unfortunately, when we’re insecure, it’s natural to hone in on another person’s weakness so we feel like we have the upper hand. But when we do this, we forfeit our peace and lose out on the gift of allowing God to be our strength and vindicator.
My friend, though it can be challenging, I encourage you not to provoke other people. While it seems like an easy way to bolster your self-esteem in a harsh and judgmental world, take the high road of civility, and resist the urge to fight. When you feel attacked, jealous, or threatened, turn the situation over to Jesus and let Him build your confidence. He is crazy about you, and His favor is vast enough to fill any chasm of inadequacy or insecurity that you find yourself in.