“When the child was weaned, Hannah took him to the Tabernacle in Shiloh. They brought along a three-year-old bull for the sacrifice and a basket of flour and some wine. After sacrificing the bull, they brought the boy to Eli. “Sir, do you remember me?” Hannah asked. “I am the woman who stood here several years ago praying to the Lord. I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request. Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life.” And they worshiped the Lord there.” (1 Samuel 1:24-28 )
If you aren’t familiar with her story….Hannah makes a bargain with God. She is barren and wants so badly to have a child. She is one of two wives of Elkanah and his other wife has many children. In 1,000 BC having children was a sign of prosperity for a woman. So she vows to give over her son to the Lord if He blesses her with a child.
And God does. And here’s the kicker….when he’s 3 and he’s weaned (yes, it was normal to nurse till 3) Hannah graciously and with dignity follows through with her agreement and takes her toddler, her precious gift, to the Temple and hands him over to the priest Eli for religious instruction, and ultimately to God.
Whenever I read this story it grieves me and inspires me at the same time. As a mom I cling tightly to my children. At night I lay beside them as they fall asleep and pray for God to take care of them and to keep them safe and healthy. I couldn’t imagine losing them.
So I think the only thing worse than having to make a choice like Hannah did…..is….well knowing you will need to say goodbye to your child, not of your own choice, but of factors beyond your control. There’s something about the mother/child relationship that we are drawn to. The bond is so incredible, and it hurts us deeply to see this broken by death.
There are so many similarities between how Hannah lived and how Laura lived.
Having faced a cancer diagnosis I know how life shattering it can be. But Laura didn’t let it shatter her life. She lived fully, she loved fully, and she was the best mom to her daughter Charlotte she could possibly be. She did her best not to let cancer slow her down. She regularly got out for play dates and walks with Charlotte. She remained active in her church. She even took Charlotte to a harvest festival just weeks before she passed away.
Hannah knew for several years there would be a point when she would lay Samuel’s tiny hand in to the hand of the Lord’s. She would have to trust that God would care for him even better than she could. I don’t know when Laura realized that she wouldn’t always be there for Charlotte, but she followed the Lord with obedience. She trusted the Lord’s will. She gracefully laid her child in the arms of God. She didn’t do it kicking or screaming. She didn’t take her family on an emotional roller coaster (not intentionally anyway). She wasn’t demanding, and she didn’t become bitter.
How hard it must be to give yourself over to God, a living sacrifice, ready and willing for anything, including death. And trust that His way is far greater than our way. His wisdom far exceeds our knowledge and understanding.
She was confident in a God who far exceeds our expectations. Who loves us more than a mother, or a father, and who has a wonderful plan for our lives. She was prepared for this before she ever got her cancer diagnosis and her strength and assurance carried her through a difficult battle. She understood that this life is so temporary and life in Christ is so eternal. She knew that we could never begin to know God’s big picture.
She had every right to be angry, depressed, to feel slighted. Laura wanted more children, she had a 2 year old daughter and a new husband. She had so much life left to live! But she continued to glorify God, and draw hope from His Word, in the face of death. When Hannah left Samuel, she did so in good spirits and in obedience. She could have turned sour, but instead she praised her God. Here is a few lines of Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2….taken with great liberties to share my favorite lines with you.….lol.
I’m bursting with God-news! I’m walking on air!
Nothing and no one is holy like God,
no rock mountain like our God.
For God knows what’s going on.
He takes the measure of everything that happens.
God brings death and God brings life,
brings down to the grave and raises up.
He puts poor people on their feet again;
he rekindles burned-out lives with fresh hope,
Restoring dignity and respect to their lives
a place in the sun!
I’m including a picture from a fabulous painter by the name of Naomi Cox. When I used to preach I would love to use visuals, and looking around the other day I found this painting of Hannah taking robes to Samuel. If Laura were here she would diligently pray for and care for Charlotte. But she can’t. She has left that behind for the body of Christ. My prayer is that this painting will be a reminder of Hannah’s faithfulness and her obedience to God no matter how difficult the task, no matter how scary the outcome. And that a precious little girl, Charlotte, and her father Chad need our diligent and faithful prayers as they continue on this life journey.
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