Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Falling in Love with Hannah

I have been going through Beth Moore's 90 days study on David. This past couple weeks, I was reading the back story of David's life, way back to the story of the prophet who anointed him king. The story of Samuel. And the story of his mother, Hannah, who was known to be a drunkard.

Hannah wasn't a boozehound for no reason! In fact, she had all the right to be feeling so depressed to seek the comfort of alcohol (as if there is such a thing as that!). She was married to a preposterous man who thought he could be one with the two women he married. She was childless, which was one of the most disgraceful situations a woman in the middle east faced during that time. She was rediculed by her husband's number 2 wife for being barren. And the worst of it all, her husband was completely clueless of what she was going through.

Elkanah was a fool. For one, he married two women and thought it would be great. But who in the world can be "one flesh" with two persons?! When God saw that Adam was lonely, He made him Eve. He didn't make Eve and Sue. One husband for one wife. That's God's original design. More than one wife is way too crowded you can't breathe. One of the questions that I had a hard time answering before was, "Why did most of the Old Testament men marry more than one wife?" Well, God never intended them to marry more than one wife. Out of their hardheadiness they did what was not right before God. And because of that, they suffered. Hannah's hubby was caught in the middle of this turmoil- having a drunk wife and another wife who was very mean. Sadly enough, he didn't have an idea that it was his own doing that created this turmoil. In fact, he thought he was stopendous and that Hannah was some kind of a spoiled brat having tantrums for not having what she wanted. When he said, "Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?" He showed how half-witted he was. His sarcasm was not helping the situation to get better. Mocking his wife's grief was the most foolish thing a man could ever do to his wife. He had no idea how depressing it was for Hannah to be the center of redicule. He didn't know the loneliness a childless woman feels. He didn't know the feeling of being abandoned by God after praying for a very important thing for a long time.

Hannah finally found a great solution to end all of her troubles. Seek God. Pray like never before. Surrender to Him. Make an unbreakable vow! A vow that she fulfilled without a heavy heart. A vow that is regarded as stupidity in today's culture but might not be so in their time. A vow to give her child, if God would grant her prayer to have one, to serve Him all his life. This vow must have touched the heart of God. Or maybe it was the attitude of surrender in her heart toward God that made God grant her desire. God saw her heart and was pleased. Very pleased. Hannah had conceived a baby boy and she was praising God for the great blessing! Her neighbors and Elkanah's number 2 stopped picking on her. They began to dance with her except, maybe, for her husband's other wife. When she had baby Samuel, she devoted herself in nurturing him- nursing him for three years. That three years were so special for her. Because she knew that she had to give him to the temple, leaving him under the care of Eli when he was weaned. Three years of deep joy! Three years of feeling so complete! Three very short years of enjoying the sweet bond between a mother and a baby. Three years of teaching the baby to listen and respond when his name is called. Three years of teaching him to love God. That three years time flew so fast. It was time for her to bring him to the temple and leave him there.

I can't imagine how lonely she must have been while walking home from the temple. It must have been only by the grace of God that she was able to make it home. She fulfilled her vow to God even when it required her to be separated from her beloved son. With her separation anxiety came an unexplainable joy knowing that she was able to fulfill her vow. Like David, she must have said this also, "I will not offer anything that costs me nothing." It was the right thing for her to do. For granting her desire, an unprecedented love for God had grown in her heart. A child was everything for her but she knew that she didn't own him. God did.

Our children are given by God to us to love and nurture. Ultimately, they are His. As parents, we are His stewards. How we treat our children is a stewardship. One vital role we play is to form their hearts and minds into knowing that they are loved by our Heavenly Father and are accountable as to how they live and have their being to God. They need to understand this very truth before other people teach them to be godless.