It was a blazing hot day. And it was crowded. She felt the weight of people pushing their way through, and choked on the swirling dust. Every year she dreaded coming to this place, the house of the Lord. But what is she to do? Duty and obedience require her presence.

"Wow! Look at you, you've grown so much in one year!"

Hannah awoke from her thoughts and looked at the source of the voice. It was a woman, and the woman was standing over a young boy beaming up at her. Another woman standing close by smiled proudly.

"Yeah, he has, hasn't he? And he's only 10."

"Ten! You look like a 12-year-old!"

More proud smiles. Then the first woman looked up and noticed Hannah. Hannah wanted to run.

"How are you, Hannah?"

The second woman, Peninnah, turned around, a smirk look already plastered on. Hannah focused on finding her voice.


"Oh Hannah's doing
just great." Peninnah answered for her. Hannah stared at her husband's other wife pleadingly. Please don't do this again.

still got no kids you know. Sometimes I wonder why Elkanah married her. Actually, I think that every single day. If he wanted another wife, he could have gotten one that wasn't so useless as her."

Peninnah threw her head back and laughed as though she said the funniest thing in the world. The other woman kept silent. Then she came up to Hannah, held her hand, and smiled gently.

"Don't worry, Hannah. You're still young. The Lord will give you a child."

But Hannah didn't hear the words of comfort. She fought back the tears while anger and frustration welled up within. The yearly torture has begun.

When I decided to take Hannah up as my first study, I didn't know what to expect. She has only a cameo appearance in the Bible. But as I delved deeper into the verses, I found that there's so much to learn from this woman.

If you, my reader, are young, it's most probable that you won't understand what the big deal is about not having kids. Why does Hannah take it so seriously, like it's the end of the world?

The thing is, in her time, it was a big deal. If you have no children, you would be deemed a failure. Hannah was feeling the heat of social expectations. I bet every year someone she knew would be having a kid or two. And here she is, year after year, appearing at the biggest gathering ever... alone. And it sure didn't help that someone was constantly reminding her of the obvious fact.

I may not be facing 'children trouble', but I sure experience peer pressure. I'll be honest -- one of the issues I face is education. When I was homeschooled, people looked at me strangely. When I worked first instead of going to college, people looked at me strangely. Then when I say maybe I don't want to go to college, people would look at me strangely. And then when I say if I want to study, I want something that can be used to serve God, people would look at me strangely still! And when I say I'm not concerned about career, people would look at me... what's it again... strangely! Aiyoyo... enough with the strange looks please!

I constantly struggle over whether I should stand up to what I believe is God's plan for me, or simply nod my head and keep shut. Just like Hannah, I do not look forward to moments like these.

You know, girls, I think we have pressure coming from all sides. We have to be smart. We fret if our bottoms look big. We need to be capable at work. We can't be pushovers, yet we are frightening if we're too aggressive. We should be able to cook, clean, sew, and check on the black oil. After all that, we should have extra time for ministry. The list goes on.

Whether it's a relationship, studies, looks, career, or ministry, there's always something telling us it's not enough. One insight I have from today's passage is this -- Whatever century you're from, you can't run away from peer or social pressure.

What's the cause of your tears?