By Elizabeth Prata
When we think of mothers in the Bible, no doubt Jesus’ mother Mary comes to mind. Rachel and Rebekah, matriarchs of the tribes. Eve, who lost her son Abel. Sarah, who waited so long after the promise of a son.
Does Hannah come to mind?
Hannah, who yearned for a child so much.
Hannah, who was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly.
She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. 11 And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.” (1 Samuel 1:10-11)
Hannah, whose fervency in prayer under her breath caused the undiscerning Eli to think she was drunk.
Hannah, who endured barbs from the other wife, constantly, for years. Hannah, whose husband Elkanah tried to console her, the inconsolably barren wife.
Hannah’s prayer was answered. In her prayer, she had made a vow to raise the boy to weaning, then give him over to the LORD.
During the weaning phase, Hannah spent every moment with little Samuel. She didn’t want to lose a precious minute of teaching him the ways of the LORD, mothering him, loving him. She refused even to go up to the temple and lose a few weeks of singular devotion, until he was weaned and she presented him to the Temple priest for permanent service (“all the days of his life”).
Note verse 11. To Hannah, not to have a child was an affliction. She felt afflicted that she could not fulfill her most desired role in life. It wasn’t because the other wife who’d borne children taunted her. It wasn’t just cultural, that Israelite society considered a childless woman a failure. Hannah was earnestly desiring to be a mom.
Motherhood wasn’t another thing on Hannah’s to-do list. “Pick up milk. Pick up baby from daycare. Pick up dry cleaning.” Her sense of affliction was childlessness. Her affliction was not that she sacrificed career convenience, fame, or self-identity. Motherhood was her career.
And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad. (1 Samuel 1:18).
After Hannah prayed, her face was composed and peaceful. Why? She had poured herself out before the Lord, trusting Him to hear her prayer and see her plight. And the LORD remembered Hannah, and in due time, He filled her womb with a son. Hannah did a good job of training him in the way he should go, because Samuel was one of the greatest men of the Bible. Prophet, Priest, Intercessor, and Judge, Samuel served God faithfully “all the days of his life” and at his death, “all Israel mourned him.” (1 Samuel 25:1).
Hannah: “For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him.” Faith, trust, motherhood, Hannah is a superlative example.
Happy Mother’s Day.