• She had a strong desire, and she didn't discount it or ignore it. 
  • She endured suffering and didn't retaliate.
  • She continually brought her requests to the Lord.
  • She poured out her heart, she wept and she was honest.
  • She gave what she wanted (and was given) right back to God for his purposes and his glory.

Just like wanting to have a child, marriage is a wonderful thing to desire.  It is natural, it is healthy and it is created by God (purposed not for our "happiness" but to refine us and to glorify him—Ephesians 5:21-33).  But while holding on to this desire and seeking God's will for our lives, circumstances might not always be the best and people might not always be kind or sensitive or considerate when you desire something in your life and have not yet seen it come to fruition.

I don't know all the particulars of your situation, but I would be surprised if you were not surrounded by other women who are either already married or are engaged or are at least in promising dating relationships.  This can be hard for single women who also desire marriage to be amongst other women who have seemingly easily attained what you desire.  It can also be discouraging when those who are married may not be sensitive in their interactions with those who are not.  "Why don't you try this?"  Or "This worked for me, so you should do it, too."  Or how about, "You'll never find a man if you don't ________."  Ever heard any of those "suggestions"?  Whether they are meant to "help" or to provoke, they can be hard for a single woman to hear and to receive graciously.  (And I imagine that infertile women—and/or their husbands—who desire to have children and must endure insensitive comments or invasive questioning might feel the same way, too.)

Again, I'm just speculating.  But as one single woman to another, I imagine that you might have also experienced these things or have felt this way, too.  Also, in our day and age, if you are not married by a certain age (say, sometime in your mid to late 30s?) then people start to wonder.  "What's wrong with you?"  "Have you worked through your issues?"  "You're too picky."  "You have to put yourself out there."  "Why don't you ask him out?"  "You're not getting any younger."  "Your options are only dwindling."  And so forth.

The flip side of this could be comments like "You should stop focusing on what you don't have and count your blessings!"  Or "At least you're not in a loveless marriage!" Or maybe "Marriage doesn't equal happiness and won't solve all of your problems!"  Yes, those are all very true perspectives.  But wouldn't it be nice to have someone just give you a virtual hug by acknowledging your suffering and validating whatever loss you are feeling in your life?  That's the kind of friend I want when I'm hurting and feeling discouraged—someone who might say:

"I know this must be hard for you to have such a strong desire to marry but are waiting for what seems like forever on God's timing and it's hard to understand what he is doing.  I want you to know that I'm here for you, and you can cry on my shoulder.  I will continue to pray for you that you will be encouraged and will trust in God and that he will comfort you when you feel alone and give you peace in the midst of your struggle."

Amen?  You know, I read in one commentary that during Hannah's time, it was seen as a curse from God if a Hebrew man's wife could not conceive a son (as in, who would carry on the family name?).  Also, it was seen as a curse when a woman was barren.  So it sounds like Hannah was feeling the societal and cultural pressures that you might be feeling as well.  And like you may be doing today, she grieved for something she wished she had in her life, too.

How long, oh Lord?  How long?

I don't know "the point" when you will know.  But whether God keeps this desire for marriage in your heart or whether he dissipates it, or fashions it into a new desire for something else, you must keep your eyes focused on him and you must be honest with what is going on in your heart (don't ignore it, don't negate it, just give it to God). 

"Father, I desire to marry and at times feel discouraged about it.  But for now, please show me how you want me to live today.  What do you want me to learn?  How can I make a difference in the lives of others?  Show me how to give my life to you, so that you may use me for your purposes and your glory wherever you have positioned me today."

Believe me, I know that keeping a perspective like that is not easy.  You don't just pray one prayer and … poof! … you no longer ever struggle or question or feel bitter about something you desire for your life.  We must daily turn our minds to Christ, yield our lives and ask him to help us focus on him and not our circumstances.

One final note:  For further reading, may I recommend John MacArthur's Twelve Extraordinary Women?  The chapter on Hannah ("Hannah:  A Portrait of Feminine Grace")—in addition to the other 11 that explore the lives of some amazing, faithful women of the Bible—are encouraging, enlightening and will hopefully remind you that you are not alone in your questions, your situation or your desires in this life.