Hannah’s desire to have a son must have been overwhelming. But to ask for a son who she would give completely to God was enough for her. Not a son to keep for herself, to have with her every day and to watch over, but to give to God with complete faith that He would watch over and raise him to be His. How did she get to this point? Did she go for so long without a child that she realized just to have a son and know he was serving her creator was enough? Many questions like these come to mind.
God heard her prayer and answered her with a son whom she named Samuel. She in turn left Samuel with Eli, a man who served God. Yet Eli’s own sons were far from godly “Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the Lord” (1Samuel 2:12). Did Hannah know this about Eli’s sons? If it were me, I would have maybe questioned Eli’s ability as far as raising godly children.
Eli kept Samuel, but Samuel turned to God and became a man of obedience. Hannah’s confidence was not in Eli. Her confidence was in God. In fact, He later blessed her with more children.
As a woman, I believe Hannah clearly knew her place. Her husband loved her and took very good care of her (1 Samuel 1:5). He was kind to her, but there were others around her who were a great source of frustration (1 Samuel 1:6). Hannah knew that her power in her own life was limited. Even her husband was limited on what he could give her. These limitations are possibly what kept her eyes on God. She knew if she asked of God, He would be faithful to her. This might be why she was able to give Eli her son Samuel. It seems she was not only able to trust the will of God, but also those who God chose to do His work.
As a Christian woman, I struggle a lot finding the limit of what I can actually control. Don’t get me wrong, I love the role God has given me and I am not speaking about those to whom I must submit. The issue of submission is relevant to any Christian. And we are all expected to submit to God.
I am blessed beyond what I could ask for, by the many people who are in my life. But because of this, I face many choices as far as how involved I am or should be with each individual.
As I read of Hannah’s faith, I had to question myself and ask if I could have done that—if I could have given my son back to God. Maybe the question should be—Am I doing that now and have I done that in the past? This question might not only apply to the blessing of my children. Does this apply to my husband and our relationship? Am I giving up the control or have I deceived myself into thinking I have control in other peoples’ lives?
It has been my experience that when I say I am going to do everything I can to make sure my family and those around me get to heaven, people are quick to remind me that each individual has to make the choice on their own if they will obey God or not. I agree. God warns us “Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit” (Luke 12:35). We, as individuals, are to be ready for Jesus. “You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Luke 12:40). Each person will stand before God as an individual.
What then is our responsibility when it comes to those around us? God has clearly given us a responsibility. But it gets complicated when we apply our own thoughts or emotions.
As far as raising a child. you begin with, “holding my baby, as I live my life.” As they grow, you move on to, “holding the hand of my child, as I live my life.” You continue on to, “follow me, as I live my life.” And then as God has planned it, we find, we are “following Christ together, as we live our lives.”
The success in raising faithful children begins in “holding” which moves onto “follow me,” ultimately leading to “following Christ together.” It is not a state of “holding” forever. Hannah physically prepared Samuel until the time was right that she left him with Eli. Hannah gave Samuel to God from the beginning, but she just held him for a little while.
We all know and seem to be reminded constantly that we cannot hold on to our children forever. But I am afraid that some of us have found a way to do exactly that—to hang onto our children in the fear of what lies ahead of them. A desire to protect them from the choices that could be. Relying on your own power to keep them from what could possibly be there to tempt or hurt them. Every person is different in how they respond to the things around them. Some draw closer, some pull away, some give up.
In some cases, holding onto our child can lead to rebellion. Sometimes, it leads to the child slowly pulling away with a sweet smile on their face. Some remain, but they are not being heard. They are left to frustration with no real voice.
It is important that every parent examine their faith in God regarding their sons and daughters. If we’re not careful, we can end up allowing fear to establish a pattern in our lives, rather than allowing God to establish the pattern.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).
We cannot always determine what lies ahead for ourselves or for those we love. But what we can do is focus on our goal, which is heaven. Along the way we strive to help one another lay aside that which weighs us down. We can help one another get untangled from sin, and run with endurance, fixing our eyes on Jesus.
Originally published in the September 2011 issue of the Rocky Mountain Christian.
By Julie Oehlert