When You Can’t Get Pregnant (Genesis 16)

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In our family mess series we see in the lives of the patriarchs and their wives some of the same messes that we see in our own lives. One of these messes that is squarely addressed is the inability to conceive a child. In Biblical times, conceiving children was one of the dreams of families as it is in many societies today. Many of us have dreams that have not come into fruition and even some that have been shattered. Even when this happens our Father in heaven sees us with eyes of love, compassion and concern.

These questions can be used as ice-breakers in the beginning OR interwoven between the questions below to draw the group into the discussion.

1. Begin by sharing with one another any dreams you may have for your life. Have all of those dreams come true? If not, how have you personally dealt with unfulfilled dreams?
2. Have you ever had a goal in mind and worked hard to achieve it? Describe some of the efforts put in to attain the goal(s). If you accomplished the goal how did you feel? If the goal was not accomplished how did you feel?
3. Can you think of a time where you had to help someone face disappointment? What advice and/or assistance did you provide? Do you think it was effective? Why or why not?

1. In 5 minutes or less. Briefly give a synopsis of this week’s sermon. What insight, principle, or observation from this weekend’s message did you find to be most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling? Explain.

2. Read 1 Samuel 1:3 -20:

3 Year after year this man (Elkanah) went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the LORD Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the LORD. 4 Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. 5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the LORD had closed her womb. 6 And because the LORD had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. 7 This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the LORD, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. 8 Elkanah her husband would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” 9 Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the LORD’s temple. [b] 10 In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” 12 As she kept on praying to the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, “How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine.” 15 “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD. 16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” 17 Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” 18 She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast. 19 Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the LORD and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah lay with Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. 20 So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, [c] saying, “Because I asked the LORD for him.”

• Each year Elkanah went with his family to the temple for worship. (v. 3) Why do you think it’s important for families to worship together? What impact does it have on children to see their parents worshipping God? How can this have a long lasting effect in their lives?
• The narrative indicates that the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb. (v.5) Why do you think that God sometimes shuts doors or delays doors from opening in our lives? Can you think of a time in your life when a blessing was delayed? How did you respond? Discuss and share.
• What was Hannah accused of? (v. 14) What explanation did Hannah provide for her countenance? (vv. 15 – 16). What does it mean to pour your soul out to the Lord? (v. 15) How did Eli respond? (v. 17) Do you think his response triggered a change within Hannah? Why or why not? Has the Lord ever used anyone to speak to you in times of anguish/wait? Discuss and Share
• The next morning, what did Hannah do? (v.20). Had her prayer been answered? What does this say to you concerning how we should respond even in the midst of delayed blessings?
• How did the Lord “remember” Hannah? How would you characterize Hannah’s lifestyle of worship throughout this whole situation (e.g. before she made her request, while she was requesting, and after the Lord responded)? How does this inform us when dealing with delayed blessings or even shattered dreams?

3. In his sermon, Rich said that when we can’t get pregnant and our dreams are shattered, we can rest assured that our Father in heaven sees us with eyes of love and compassion and concern. Take some time to revisit the dreams shared by members of your group. Spend some time praying for those with unfulfilled dreams to be showered by the compassion and concern of Christ.

Please also encourage your small group to participate in the follow up events and seminars being offered in conjunction with the Family Mess series.