Mother's Day Without A Child - 5/13/18

MOTHER’S DAY WITHOUT A CHILD 05-13- 2018

1 Samuel 1: 1-20

Mother’s Day isn’t a very happy day for women who are unable to have children.
Occasionally they have to deal with thoughtless comments like; … “How long
have you been married—and you don’t have any children yet?” … or how about:
…“Don’t you like children?”
Karen and myself had our difficulties; … three miscarriages before Lindsey. …
We had decided to adopt … but tried once more … and God put His blessing upon
us.
Hannah bore the imposed shame of this plight, … living in a culture where having
children was especially important, … where the stigma of childlessness was very
severe.
Every Jewish woman hoped to be the one to give birth to the Messiah.
Hannah’s grief is amplified by having to live with Peninnah (her husband’s second
wife) … who was able to have children. … So Hannah knew the problem wasn’t
with Elkanah, … their husband.
These two wives did not get along. … You can imagine Peninnah taunting; …
“Maybe God knows you wouldn’t make a very good mother.”
Peninnah became Hannah’s rival, … often mocking and provoking Hannah, …
bringing her to tears (a good argument against polygamy!).
In contrast, … we’re told that Hannah’s husband went out of his way to show his
love. … He compensated her for her loss, … doubling her gifts.
He tells Hannah that with or without children, … she was still precious to him, …
simply for whom she was.
Nonetheless, Hannah is “troubled” (vs 8), … which could be translated; …
“depressed”.
Hannah is one of several women in the Bible who waited a long time before being
able to have children. … For example, Sarah was promised a son … but after
waiting for a very long time, she encouraged her husband Abraham to have a child
(Ishmael) through a surrogate (Hagar) … and if you know the story, … you
recognize this lapse of faith produced the root of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the
Middle East: … A few thousand years later … and it is still going on!
In our culture, … women are no longer defined and valued by their ability to bear
children. … Yet childlessness continues to be a painful reality for many.
Eugene Peterson writes; … “We read ‘no children’ and are immediately in a world
of longings, frustrations, tears, and prayers.”

I’d like to offer a few Scriptural principles this Mother’s Day, … especially for
women who haven’t been able to have children. … If yourself or someone you
know is bearing up to this, … you might want to write them down with a few
notes.
First off, … God is in control. … He is sovereign. … His timing is different from
ours, … which means His plan may not agree with how we may think matters
ought to be.
God decides when, … where … and to whom children will be given.
He has His reasons.
We can be comforted in knowing that there is a “why”, … even though we may not
be able to figure out God’s purpose. … We also need to recognize that if God gave
us all the reasons, … we still might not be able to grasp them.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.”
This is the LORD’s declaration. (Isaiah 55:8).
Next, … children are a blessing … but just because a woman may not have
children, … it doesn’t mean she’s not blessed. … God blesses us in many ways.
It’s easy to incorrectly assume that since children are a blessing, … not being able
to have children is a curse.
When people marry, … they often feel that they are “supposed” … to have
children. … The only path that we are “supposed” to follow … is to seek and
accept the will of God for our lives (repeat).
A key principle of life is that personal fulfillment is found in our relationship with
Christ. … True happiness is not conditional on our circumstances. … We can
experience contentment, … regardless of what direction our lives may take.
Seeking fulfillment in anyone … or anything else than in the will of God, …
will only leave us longing for the trappings that will not satisfy us.
When we make people or possessions the criteria of our happiness, …
we’re dangerously close to idolatry.
Longing for something is not a sin … but refusing to be happy without it …
leads to bitterness.
Are you familiar with The Serenity Prayer?
You’ve likely heard it many times … but probably only the first part.
I’d like to read to you the prayer in its entirety:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to
change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at
a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;

Trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will: So that I
may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the
next—Amen.”
How do we get through the week?; … By being convinced that God has a plan for
our lives. … As we try to determine where we fit in, … God leads us.
He does so through circumstance, … the Bible, … the counsel of others …
and by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
We do not wander aimlessly when we are relying on God; … we find our calling.
We may not see a burning bush or hear His voice … but God impresses us within
… and confirms His plan through many fine means.
Augustine declared; … “Faith must hold … what it cannot yet behold.”
The scene shifts to Shiloh, a place of prayer and worship, in verse 9. …
Elkanah and his family made an annual pilgrimage to Shiloh, 20 miles from their
hometown of Ramah. … The nearest modern city would be Tel Aviv. … It was the
most important place of worship during the (approximately) 200-year period from
the end of the Jewish conquest under Joshua, … to the establishment of the
monarchy under King David. … During David’s reign, … the Tabernacle was
replaced by the Temple. … The Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant were at
Shiloh. … Levite priests led devout worshippers in this holy building.
Hannah turns to prayer. … Though her husband is loving, … accepting … and
compassionate, … Hannah has needs he cannot meet.
When he asks; … “Am I not better to you than 10 sons?”, … She doesn’t answer.
Her prayer is provoked by pain and accompanied by tears. …
She makes a vow before God, … that should He grant her a son, … he will be
dedicated to serve as a Nazarite. … Her prayer anticipates both getting and giving.
The Nazarites were a holy order of men who were devoted to serving God. …
Their commitment was marked by abstinence from alcohol and haircuts. …
The most famous Nazarite was Sampson.
Hannah prays in solitude and silence … but she is not unobserved.
Eli, … the presiding priest of the Shiloh sanctuary, … is at his post and is watching
her. … He surveys the soundless movements of her mouth and wrongly concludes
that she is drunk. … He’s sure that this is not the way normal people pray.
Pagans were known for their intoxicated worship. … Eli doesn’t appear to be a
gifted psychologist; … he does not recognize piety.
Rabbinical scholars later regarded Hannah as a model of authentic prayer. …
Hers was “a prayer of the heart.”

Eli rebukes Hannah, accusing her of violating the decorum of the sacred place of
worship … but Hannah is not intimidated by Eli or his authority.
She is more attentive to her heart than to the Tabernacle liturgy and hierarchy.
She dismisses his charges and asserts her right to pray without a script, … in her
own way, … in her own words, … laying out the pain of her life before the Lord.
Hannah firmly responds; … “I am a woman with a broken heart. I haven’t had any
wine or beer; I’ve been pouring out my heart before the LORD (Vs. 15-16).
Eli is struck by her boldness; … to his credit, he accepts Hannah’s explanation and
blesses her, … adding his prayers to her own.
Hannah graciously accepts the blessing from Eli, … who had previously
demeaned her.
She departs with renewed faith; … we’re told she, vs 18, … “no longer looked
despondent.”; … yet at this point nothing has happened; … she is still barren.
All we’re told is that, “after some time” (vs 20), … God created new life in her.
That new life was the prophet Samuel.
You may have heard: … “Faith is confidence in God’s faithfulness to us, … in an
uncertain world, … on an uncharted course, … toward an unknown future”.
(Pamela Reeve).
Sometimes faith means living with “No” … as the answer to our prayers.
We try to accept that God’s answers are wiser than our prayers … but we struggle
with many situations we can’t understand. …
God doesn’t owe us an explanation … but He loves us and wants us to trust Him,
… even when He is silent.
Motherhood is a blessing … but couples without children are blessed in other
ways. … We honor motherhood … and we appreciate all our moms have done for
us … but we know that fulfillment in life does not hinge on the ability to procreate;

God has a plan for us all.
AMEN