Every time I read the first 2 chapters of I Samuel, I am awed by Hannah's story. I can't begin to imagine what struggles she dealt with because of her inability to have children.
"He (Elkanah) had two wives' one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none. And because the Lord had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival (Peninnah) provoked her till she wept and would not eat. In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord. And she made a vow, saying, 'O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon 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.'"
I Samuel 1:2,6,7 & 10
In verse 10 it is written that the Lord had closed Hannah's womb. How interesting is that piece of information! We don't know the reason why he chose for Hannah to be barren, but my guess is that it was because he had great plans for her. I believe he was preparing her heart for what was to come.
God heard Hannah's plea and blessed her with a son whom she named Samuel. The baby boy's name had significance for Hannah and she choose the name Samuel "... Because I asked the Lord for him." (verse 20). After she had weaned him (which I do believe was at 3 years of age) she took Samuel to the temple to live with Eli, the priest. Hannah fulfilled her vow to the Lord.
This story convicts me every time I read it. Hannah new that Samuel was a gift from the Lord. I know that my children are gifts from the Lord. The difference between Hannah and I is humbling. Hannah knew and remembered that Samuel was truly the Lord's child. She gave Samuel over to the Lord, not just mentally and emotionally, but physically. Oh, how I struggle with this. The love I have for my children is so deep that I tend to hang on to them- tightly. I want to control what happens in each of their lives to keep them safe, happy, healthy. These are not bad things for me to desire, but it becomes a problem when I shut God out. My children are HIS. I need to remember to give them back to Him. I know He loves them even more than I do (my mind knows this, but at times it is hard for my heart to remember).
How hard it must have been for Hannah to leave her little boy at the temple. She couldn't just stop in to see him whenever she wanted. Her visits to the temple only happened once a year. Which suggests the temple was quite a distance from their home. My heart just aches when I read that part of the story. Could I do that? I think I would fail miserably. I know I need God's grace and strength when it comes to giving Him the control of my childrens lives and futures. I can't do this on my own. God is going to have to help loosen my grip, because at times I am clinging so tightly to them.
Hannah on the other hand, is amazing! She doesn't lament leaving her son, but in prayer, praises her Lord.
"My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance. There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God."
I Samuel 2:1-2
Having a mothers heart myself, I am sure her heart ached to leave her precious son at the temple. At the same time she knew that it was what the Lord wanted for Samuel, because God had great plans for her little boy!
You are my rock, my strength. Your love and beauty surrounds me. Your blessings abound. I pray, that I may be more like Hannah. Help me to loosen my grip. I desire for you to raise up my children to love you wholeheartedly. Guide me and use me to raise them as You desire. Help me to follow the path you have laid before us, because I know you have great plans for us.