A Rival Is Just Another Friend, by Evans Olang

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1Samuel 1:7, “So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that she (Peninnah) provoked her”

To understand Samuel’s story, you have to go back to how it all started. Hannah and Peninnah are married to Elkanah. Peninnah had children while Hannah was barren. Peninnah took advantage of Hannah’s barrenness and provoked her for Hannah was loved more than she was yet she had been blessed with fruit of the womb. It was expected that the wife who had children especially boys would be loved and respected.

God gives us diversified gifts and when we talk about gifts, they are not things worked for or earned, but things bestowed to one. Some have been blessed with looks, energy to do massive works, have the ability to love the unlovable, can teach, good listeners, good encouragers, such great wisdom to name a few. All these are gifts not everyone around us have them. The gift I have may not be the gift you have but all these gifts tie and bring us together to glorify God. We ought to celebrate diversified gifts from the Lord. In this story, instead of each celebrating each other’s gifts, Peninnah was provoking Hannah the wrong way, while Hannah was troubled by what she did not possess. In the midst of all these, God had grand opportunity to raise the un expected for His glory.

You may be mad at Peninnah for doing such horrible things to Hannah but I would pause and thank God for her. She may be a rough stone but she is significant. Your rivals put you in a better place to call on God even more. Hannah prayed more because she had a rival, She spent much time before God because of her rival. She maximized her faith, learnt how to pray effectively and learnt how to praise God more because she had a rival. When Joseph met his brothers after terrible things that happened in his life and finally God elevated him, he said, “you meant it for evil but God made it for good”. We know of how God remembered Hannah and blessed her with a prophet who anointed the first king of Israel and did great things. Have you ever wondered what would have happened if Peninnah did not provoke Hannah? how about Leah who provoked Rachel day and night, she provoked her until God saw how she was being treated and opened her womb to bring forth Joseph. Have you wondered what would have happened if Joseph was not born, sold into Egypt and becomes the no. 2 man in Egypt and later saving the entire Israel?

I thank God for my rivals who provoke me by their words and some by their actions. They have caused me to believe there is more that God wants to do, they have taught me more on faith, praying by faith, praying effectively and looking to God. Whatever they are doing is working for my good. Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God and to them that are called according to His purpose”. All things (good things, bad things), they all work together for our good but mark the last part of it, it only works for those who are called according to His purpose. Someone’s hate and anger could be your point of blessing. Someone’s backbiting could be the means God would raise you up for all they are doing is working for your good. It doesn’t just work for anyone but to those who are called. I believe that after the episode of Hannah, Rachel, and Joseph, they must have thought, ”we are glad we had revivals, yes it was painful but we have grown, God turned things around for His glory”. Psalm 119:71, “It’s good for me to have been afflicted, that I might learn your statutes”, Psalm 34:19, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord shall deliver him out of them all”. You might not like your rivals but guess what, they are your best friends, they will shape you into the image of Christ and what a blessing to know that someone pushed you to the next level with all their hate and anger. They actually made away for you to be used of God, helped you produce greater things the Lord always wanted to do in your life. If anything, your rival only awakened you to a greater destiny, take the hint!! Blessings Ev

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