Updated: Jun 22, 2018
Do you remember things your mother taught you? Anything from how to wash your clothes, to a song or a family story? Reverend Singleton told us some of her own mother's words of wisdom this morning, including "If everyone jumps off the bridge, are you going to do it, too?" and the old piece of advice "Wait until your father gets home." Hmmm. Do all mothers read the same rule book?
The scripture today was from 1 Samuel chapter 1. It tells of a woman named Hannah, who was unable to have a child. This is a tragedy even now, but then it was even worse. People believed that it meant God was upset with you. On top of this, Hannah's husband had another wife, who did have children. So, though Hannah was loved by her husband, and even treated better than his other wife, the other wife treated her terribly. Not a very easy household to live in, by the sound.
Well, every year the family took a trip to Shiloh, where people went to offer their yearly sacrifice. Normally, this was a joyful time, but for Hannah it was awful. It was just another way to rub in the fact that she wasn't favored by God.
Did any of you skip church this morning? Are you hiding out in your house now? For some people, Mother's Day is a sad time. Maybe you have lost your own mother. Maybe you have lost your child. Maybe your family isn't what you want it to be, and you don't feel loved or appreciated. Well, try to read on and find out what Hannah did about her bad situation.
When Hannah went to Shiloh that year, she went to the temple and prayed. In fact, she made a bit of a fool out of herself, praying out loud, so that the priest thought she was drunk! But she prayed that God would give her a son. And she promised to dedicate that child back to God.
We have a "Dedication Service" for babies in our church, where the parents bring the babies to the pastor and promise in front of the congregation to raise them to know God. It is a lovely service, but not quite what Hannah had in mind. She promised this: “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” (1 Samuel 1:11, NIV). Well, the Lord answered her prayer, and she did have a son. And as soon as he was weaned (How old was he? Maybe 3 or 4 at the most?) she brought him to the temple to live for the rest of his life. He became Samuel, the priest who advised King David.
So, what do we take away from this? First, that God will carry your burdens for you. You have only to ask. Sometimes it's hard to care for kids. Things happen that we don't know how to handle. And there is not really a mothers' rule book that comes with the baby. But God can guide you. You can lean on him when the going gets tough. Second, we find that if we make a vow to the Lord, we have to honor it. Don't make empty promises. But remember Hannah. She honored her vow, and God honored her by raising up her son to become a mighty man of God.
Our children are only ours on loan. We are here to take care of them, and to teach them, but ultimately they belong to God. We need to teach them about God, and to show them by example how to be a godly man or woman. We continue to pray for them, whether they are babies, children, teens, or adults. And we release them to God.
So, on this day that we honor mothers, remember your responsibility to the children in your life. Children are put into our lives for us to care for, and to teach. To let them know that there is a God who loves them, and to show them that love, even if, and especially if, they don't hear it from anyone else. And remember that whether or not you have children, or a mother, God loves you. Hannah leaned on him when she was downhearted, and you can too. Your mother bore you, but God gave you life. He created you, and he loves you. And his love will never change, no matter what you do or have done.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
(Deuteronomy 31:8, NIV)