Motherhood or in many of your cases grandmotherhood, or great grandmotherhood, or even aunt is a special privilege and a sacred duty. Think about the role a mother plays in the nurture and development of a child. There is a South African proverb: "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the nation and its destiny." A mother's love is special and unique, but a mother's duty is to raise a child to follow and serve God.
There may not be a greater heartache than for a woman to have the heart of a mother, the desire to nurture and love a young life, but not have a child. It grips your heart to see the tears of a woman who wants to be a mother so badly.
This was the circumstance for Hannah, as recorded in Scripture. In 1 Samuel 1:10-13, we read:
"Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the LORD and wept with many tears. Making a vow, she pleaded, 'LORD of Hosts, if You will take notice of Your servant's affliction, remember and not forget me, and give Your servant a son, I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and his hair will never be cut.' While she was praying in the LORD's presence, Eli watched her lips. Hannah was speaking to herself, and although her lips were moving, her voice could not be heard. Eli thought she was drunk."
There was something fundamentally wrong with her. There had to be. It was the only explanation for Hannah’s inability to carry a child. Her husband, Elkanah’s second wife was able to conceive and bear children, a fact that she made sure to rub in every chance she got. Therefore, it had to be Hannah’s fault that she couldn’t become pregnant. There must have been some secret sin she had committed or some way she had offended God.
Hannah hurt deeply because she wanted to be a mother. In her pain she cried out to God. This is a side note and not the heart of the sermon, but when you are pain, there is no better person to go than God. As the hymn writer Elisha Hoffman tells us, "I must tell Jesus, I must tell Jesus, I cannot bear these burdens alone."
As is often the case with God, God answers her prayer, giving her more than she had dreamed of asking for. God gives her a beautiful baby boy, Samuel, who will go on to do great things to the Lord.
You see, things were not going that well for the people of Israel. After the death of Moses who had led the people through the wilderness to the edge of the promised land and after the death of Moses’ successor Joshua who had conquered and driven out most of the inhabitants of the promised land so that God’s people could settle there, things began to go south.
In subsequent generations, the people would forget God and go about doing whatever it was that they wanted. In turn, God would allow their enemies to defeat them. Then the people would cry out to God, Yahweh in Hebrew, who would then raise up a judge as the military and moral leader of the people. Through God’s power, this judge would deliver the people and restore them to right relationship with God. It was a vicious cycle that you can read about in the book of Judges if you are interested.
Something needed to change. The cycle from the book of Judges simply could not continue; people could not just do what was right in their own eyes. God had gifted them commandments and had made them a promise, that God would forever and always be their God and they would be God’s people. So God had to do something.
Hannah goes to God in her pain and makes a vow.
God saw Hannah and her faithfulness. God heard her prayer and the incredible promise that she was willing to make: The promise that if God would gift her with a son, she would return that child to the Lord. And so, as the Message translation of today’s reads, “God began making the necessary arrangements in response to what she had asked.”
Hannah gives her son to God literally. Hannah promised her future son to God as a priest. To demonstrate the depth of her commitment, she committed her boy with a Nazarite vow. According to Jewish tradition, Levite priests served until the age of 50. Likewise, a Nazarite vow lasted for a limited time.
But Hannah made a commitment that reached far beyond either one. Her vow was for all the days of his life. I find it amazing that that Hannah would make such an extreme promise for a son she did not have.
You may say, "I think that is a high price to pay, to give my son or daughter to serve God." And you are right, it is a high price. It was the price God paid when He gave His only Son to the world. Are you willing to give your son or daughter?
Hannah made good on her vow to God and brought the boy to Eli the priest. Here is how 1 Samuel 1:26-28 describes that encounter
"Please, my lord," she said, "as sure as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. I prayed for this boy, and since the LORD gave me what I asked Him for, I now give the boy to the LORD. For as long as he lives, he is given to the LORD." Then he bowed and worshiped the LORD there.
Here is what is amazing about this passage. It is not Eli who worships God, but Samuel. I find it so amazing that this boy who is at the most, two or three years old at the time, knows how to worship God. How did he learn to worship? He learned from the only person around him: his mother.
Children are like sponges, soaking up everything around them. I have to think Hannah did the same thing. She worshiped God and included Samuel in that time. That is how he learned to worship God. If you want your children to learn to pray, include them in a home prayer time. If you want your children or grandchildren to worship, worship in front of them. If it is service, ministry, Bible study, or any other spiritual discipline, your children and grandchildren will learn it from you if you model it in front of them and include them in it.
First Samuel 2:1-2 details Hannah's prayer. It is the secret to how Hannah trusted God, and taught Samuel to worship God. Look at how I Samuel 2:1-2 records the prayer of Hannah. "Hannah prayed: 'My heart rejoices in the LORD; my horn is lifted up by the LORD. My mouth boasts over my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation. There is no one holy like the LORD. There is no one besides You! And there is no rock like our God.'"
Hannah rejoices in the Lord and His salvation. Her horn, which is a symbol of power, is the Lord and her rock is God. In just a few verses, Hannah exalts the might and power of the Lord. These are not just words - they reflect her heart.
Jesus told the story of two men who built homes, one upon the sand and one upon the rock. The storm came and destroyed the house on sand, but the house on the rock stood strong. The purpose of Jesus' parable was to lead us to build our life on the firm foundation of the rock, which is Christ.
Hannah built her life on the rock. She knew there was no firmer foundation. She was an example of worship to her son. How could she do that? Hannah had a personal relationship with God that fueled her trust, commitment, and life.
How about you? What are your children, grandchildren, family and friends going to remember you for, what will be your legacy? How is your relationship with God? Do people know that you are a Christian, or do you just blend in to get along to go along.
How can you be a parent, grandparent who trusts God with your children and grandchildren? How can you be a model and example to your children of a life spent worshiping God? Your relationship with God through Christ fuels your trust, commitment, and life. You can do all these things when you. . .
You can if you trust God with your life.
You can if you serve God.
You can if you worship God.
You can if you have built your life upon the rock of a personal relationship with Christ.