For as long as I can remember, I have loved the story of Hannah, the mother of Samuel. Ever since I was a child, I had this affinity with Hannah – a certain connection. She is without a doubt one of my favorite biblical women. The reason I love her so much is her courage and dedication to God.
Hannah did not have an easy life, I believe. She had to share her husband with another woman who bullied her constantly because she was childless. In those days, being childless, was more or less a curse from God. People seriously believed that you had sinned against God, so God punished you by not giving you children. Besides children were your wealth. When people looked at your riches, they didn’t look at how much money you had or the size of your house you owned. They looked at your children. If you had many children, especially a son, you were rich and blessed.
So Hannah is in a difficult spot. Hannah’s situation is continuing for years. The bullying from Peninnah is hurting Hannah so much that she stops eating. Even the love of her husband cannot cheer her up anymore. But instead of letting her problems defeat her, Hannah gets up and goes to the Lord’s House. She takes her problems to the only place where she can get true help. She takes it to God. The most inspiring part of this story to me is Hannah’s request. She could have asked for a child and left it at that. But she does not. Hannah promises God that if He gives her a son, she will give him back. I am not a mother but I can imagine the sacrifice Hannah makes here. All she ever wanted was a child. In fact she wants it so much that she is willing to give him up. It seems to me that all Hannah wanted was to know what it feels like to be a mother. Her heartache rises high above Penninah’s bullying. Hannah truly misses something in her heart, in her life, and she is willing to go the extra mile to make it happen. Her faith in God is astonishing. Her courage inspiring.
Would I be willing to give up what I wanted most? Would I be able to say, “God if you give me this, I will give it all back to you”? Hannah’s strength is extraordinary to me. In the world where we live in today, I don’t know if I could. But Hannah can. Her heartache becomes her greatest testimony.
What is inspiring about this story also, is Hannah’s courage to ignore other people’s opinion about her. As she is praying in the Lord’s House, the priest Eli thinks that Hannah is drunk. In those days people prayed aloud. When one prayed, he prayed so everybody could hear it. But not Hannah. Hannah does not hang her dirty laundry outside so to say. She prays silently. Only God is allowed to hear her grieve. Only God is allowed inside her heart, inside her deepest sorrow. When Eli wants to send her away, she remains calm and explains him why she prayed the way she did. Hannah was not afraid to do things her way. I see her as a strong woman. Her difficult situation definitely did not define who Hannah truly was. She was a smart, strong woman, who knew God and loved Him. And because of her faith, God gave Hannah what she asked for.
This story to me is incredible. Samuel is born and as soon as he is old enough, Hannah brings him to Silo, where the Lord’s House is situated. Samuel becomes a great prophet because of his mother’s courage and sacrifice. Hannah wrote history by her courageous act of faith and love. And in my opinion she does not get enough credit for it. Most people look at Mary the mother of Jesus or Mary Magdalene, Ruth or Esther, but not many look at Hannah the mother of Samuel. Would you be able to ask God for something only to give it back? How difficult must it have been for Hannah to bring young Samuel to Silo that day. To give her own child up. In Hannah’s prayer we can read that it actually brings her joy. God gave her what she asked for and that was enough. Hannah didn’t mind about the way how God gave it.
When I compare myself to Hannah, I can clearly see the flaws within myself. If I ask for something, I often want it my way. I am not open enough to God’s way of doing things. Besides when I have to give something up, I get sad and frustrated. I honestly cannot imagine asking God for a child and giving him back to God with a happy heart. I would probably be devastated. Imagine it yourself for a moment. Maybe you just become a mother or father after a series of IVF or after a long journey of adoption. Imagine taking your child to church and leaving him or her behind, so they can serve the Lord. You have to understand that Hannah only saw her son ones a year! It was not like she brought him there, he did what he had to do, and she brought him back home. No! She gave him up. Samuel stayed in Silo and Hannah went back home. Could you do that? I believe we can all learn so much from Hannah. From her courage and her sacrifice, but mostly, from her gratitude and joy.
You can read Hannah’s story in the bible, in 1 Samuel 1 and 2.
One last thing. God, in His love and goodness, gave Hannah three sons and two daughters after Samuel. Hannah’s reward for her willingness to give Samuel back to God. It teaches me personally that through all the sorrow in our own life, God will give us so much more in return, if only we are willing to have faith in Him!