I was watching a movie with my husband and the girl’s cell phone went through her swimming, getting thrown into a large ocean, and falling many feet as she plunged into this underground pool of water where she swam to find an air pocket.
We laughed at the thought that there was no way her cell phone would work after all of that, but she responds when asked how it still worked with, “It’s water proof!”
In 1 Samuel 1, we are encouraged to “Peninnah-proof” our lives. Peninnah is the wife of Elkanah. Elkanah has another wife named Hannah. Monogamy was ordained by God from the beginning as the highest happiness for men and women (Genesis 2:21-24), yet Elkanah has chosen to marry two women. The Bible tells us that Elkanah loved Hannah and blessed her more than his wife Peninnah. Think that made Peninnah a little jealous? Yet Peninnah was able to give Elkanah children, and Hannah was barren. So, Peninnah, out of her own jealousy, began provoking Hannah to the point that she wept and would not eat.
God’s intentions for friendships are loving, encouraging, supporting, celebrating, cheering, and even promoting another above oneself! Yet, in this world today, we have women, even those professing Christ, who compete and compare, eaten up with jealousy, hatred, and envy.
What can we learn from this story in Scripture? 1) don’t be Elkanah who gives preferential treatment to others so publicly that it invites rivalry; be aware of how your treatment of others might effect another. Consideration goes a long way. 2) don’t be a Peninnah who is so green with envy that it clouds the way you treat others, even to the point that you would choose the most painful aspect of that person and focus your attacks on that. Jesus, help us. That is a tactic the enemy uses. You don’t want to align yourself with him. 3) Peninnah-proof your life. You can set a boundary on people like this. You can separate yourself from these people. You can still be loving, still speak when you see them, and still wish them well and even pray for them, but you do not have to subject yourself to the continual careless words and actions that wound you. If you’d really somewhat “forced” to because if family dynamic or workplace involvement, limit it as much as possible. No one needs that in your life. 4) do your very best to be as Hannah in the face of such adversity: get in God’s presence and pray.
Find some friendships that are true. Friends who lift you up in prayer, encourage you in your gifts and your dreams God has given you. Friends who share your joys and your sorrows. Friends who, as the Bible says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.” Friends who support you and are present in the most difficult of times as well as your highest and best moments. They exist. They are hard to find, but they exist.
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal these friends to you as well as those you may need to set some boundaries with. I love the thought that it says that Hannah prayed for her situation as barren. She didn’t focus on praying that Peninnah would pay. She prayed for the thing that Peninnah was always picking at her about! Instead of Hannah remaining in her angry, sad, sorrowful, and embittered state in her soul, she prayed. She “poured out her soul” to the Lord.
That thing your Peninnah keeps hurting you with? Start praying into that. Flip it on the enemy, by thanking the Lord for bringing that thing to your attention, so you can pray healing over that! Take what the enemy wants to destroy you with and let God perfect you!!! Gets the enemy and the one the enemy is using, every time!
Hannahs, keep praying. Even when the Peninnahs come after you. Keep surrendering. Keep inviting the Holy Spirit to make you like Jesus. The Lord hears and He will answer you. It’s only a matter of time.
Don’t forget to join me and to invite your friends to join me for our online summertime study in Proverbs so we can learn to reign in life as the Bride of Christ! Register at www.jenaforehand.com/proverbs-study!