1 Samuel 1:5-7, 9-10
But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion, for he loved Hannah: but the Lord had shut up her womb. And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb. And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat. So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon the seat by a post of the temple of the Lord. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore.
One definition of irritation means the state of feeling annoyed, impatient or slightly angry. There may be times when certain situations, outcomes or even people can be a source of irritation in our lives. If we let it, the irritation can cause us to focus on the ‘now’ instead of the lesson we should be learning or the outcome that should come from it. One of the greatest examples of how to handle irritation is in the natural creation of a pearl. A foreign object such as a grain of sand, a parasite, or piece of shell gets inside of the oyster and causes irritation to it. As a defense mechanism, this irritation causes a secretion which forms layers and layers around the irritant that protects the oyster, thereby producing a valuable pearl.
In the story of Hannah, we learned that she was married to a man who had two wives. She was barren, while the other wife had children. Hannah was not barren because of anything that she had done, but because The Lord had closed her womb. Hannah’s husband would go yearly to sacrifice and when he did, he would give Hannah a double portion because he loved her and he recognized that she didn’t have any children of her own. Every year, the other wife would antagonize Hannah and cause her to get so worked up that she couldn’t eat and she cried continuously. This particular year, after their meal, Hannah changed her pattern, and got up and went to the temple to pray. She prayed in her heart that the Lord would bless her with a son and that she would give him back to be used by God. When she prayed only her lips moved so that not even the priest, Eli, heard what she was saying. After Eli accused her of being drunk, Hannah explained that her actions were a reflection of her grief and complaint to God. Eli confirmed to her that the Lord would remember her petition that she asked of him. After she had received the confirmation, she left, ate and was no longer sad. When she returned back home, Hannah became pregnant with the promise of the Lord. Her irritation lead to her pearl, Samuel.
So how can we handle life’s irritations to get our pearl? When we study the story of Hannah, we can glean that she was taunted and provoked and she handled the situation by crying and worrying and not eating. This was an unhealthy cycle that she repeated year after year. In the story, she finally decided to separate herself from the source of her irritation, and go to the house of the Lord. The first thing we need to do is change our behavior, break the unhealthy cycle, and shift our focus from the irritant and start the process in creating our pearl. Remember that getting to the pearl is the goal. The pearl has value; it can be used to launch you to your next level, and sustain you when you get there. But we have to go through the process, and not get stuck focusing on the irritant.