Hands down, the story of Hannah has to be my favorite Mothers Day bible story. Hannah, was the mother of Samuel. Samuel turned out to be one of God’s most prominent prophets and the first annotated prophet after Moses. In fact, prophesy was revived by God through Samuel (1 Sam 3: 1).
I am sure you have heard the axiom , “behind every great man stands a strong woman” and in this story, it is certainly true. Hannah married into a prominent family that was fiercely devoted to God and her husband, Elkanah was a Levite. After a time and we are not really told how long, our love story fairy tale ending twists from the expected… and they lived happily ever after to the public pronouncement that Hannah was barren, unable not give Elkanah children, and he, like many other men of his time, married another… a second wife to give him children. And Peninnah bore him children indeed. As you can imagine, this situation was very hard on the whole family. Elkanah did attempt to sooth the tension within his household by making a yearly peace offering to God and then giving Hannah extra favor and blessings, but his second wife, in response, provoked Hannah bitterly. No doubt surrounded by the fruit of her womb, Peninnah took great pleasure in torturing and humiliating Hannah during this important family gathering.
Year after year, the family feud continued and as always, during the annual trip to the temple in Shiloh for family worship, it escalated. Again, this is where we want the knight in shining armor to ride in and mightily rescue Hannah from the wicked step… I mean, second wife, but this did not happen. True to real life, Elkanah did not rebuke Peninnah or intervene to restore family unity… instead he pleaded with Hannah to ignore the situation, join in with the family feasting and be happy. What was Hannah’s response to such a callous and lame action…? She did not upbraid him with his unkindness in marrying another wife as Sarah, Abrahams’ wife did, nor did she render to Peninnah railing for railing, but took the trouble wholly to herself, which made her an object of much compassion.
One particular year, Hannah became so distraught after their meal in the house of the Lord that she went to the place of prayer and prostrated herself before God begging for rescue and salvation. As she was praying… crying out to God, Eli the priest sees her and assumes she is drunk and rebukes her. Again, Hannah does not answer in anger, but explains she has a petition for the Lord. Eli, no doubt embarrassed by his wrong assumption, tells her, “Go in peace and may the God of Israel give you what you have asked him for”. Miracles of miracles, a new day has dawned for Hannah… a promise is given.
Well, the rest of the story… Hannah gets pregnant and delivers Samuel. And then, and this is where the story takes on a new twist…one that boggles the mind of most women, mothers especially. In an act of utter devotion and gratitude, she gives back her one and only child to God for ministry and service. What an act of love! What a story to emulate! In a world where the value of women and their contributions towards child rearing is oft overshadowed and marginalized, Hannah’s example shines.
It is only when we choose to receive Gods rescuing love that we find true joy, peace, love and a home. For us, Jesus bridged the gap between sinful man… you… me… us, and a perfect, holy God. How do we come back to God? We simply ask forgiveness for rejecting God and choosing sin and commit ourselves to Christ. He then will fill the void in our hearts and make us anew. My hope for you, dear friend, is that you will cry out to God as Hannah did and turn to God.
Thank you God for telling us the story of Hannah and, in it, giving us a role model to follow. Hannah’s selfless love and sacrifice shines so brightly that it is very much like a beacon on a hill. Too, her example typifies the sacrificial love of Christ in that “God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life.” (John 3: 16).
In the spirit of God’s sacrificial love, I have a video for you. Happy Mothers Day!