Mothers’ Day is tomorrow. It is a time to honour our moms.
My wife has been one now for over ten years. My respect and admiration for her has only increased as I have watched her mother our three kids. I have seen the incredible work load. I have walked with her through difficulty. I smile when one of kids of their own accord do something special for her and show her love like only a son or daughter can do.
When she is out of town and I am left to manage things alone, without her, my kids look at me, with fear in their eyes, wondering what they are going to eat, what they are going to wear, they ask me the question, “What do I do now?” And I tell them, I have no idea.
I have come to the conclusion that there is nobody who works harder, labors longer, feels pain more deeply, experiences more joy with more tears, loves more unconditionally, than a mom.
We are all indebted to our moms. They have given us so much, haven’t they? We have been shaped their hands, love, and prayers. Moms, your life-long influence into the lives of your children is undeniable. As my wife and I have looked at each other in the season of life that we are in, we have recognized that we need to be at the top of our game. We need to be doing our best as parents.
The most necessary characteristic that moms need to have is godliness. There’s a difference between being a mom and being a godly mom.
Consider a godly mom in the Bible named Hannah. Her story is told in 1 Samuel 1. In her time, as far as I know, there was no holiday called Mothers’ Day. Nonetheless, the account of her life is instructive not just for moms and dads but for all of us. See if you can relate.
“Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim Zophim, of the mountains of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. And he had two wives: the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. This man went up from his city yearly to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. Also the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, were there. And whenever the time came for Elkanah to make an offering, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, although the Lord had closed her womb. And her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat. Then Elkanah her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”” (1 Samuel 1:1–8, NKJV)
The first experience of motherhood that Hannah had, is something with which all mom’s are familiar.
A Broken Heart (v1-8)
In 1 Samuel 1:1-8, Hannah is not yet a mom. But God is preparing her. One of the tools that He is using to prepare her is a broken heart. She was a wife but not a mother.
There were blessings in her life.
First, she had a husband who loved her. (V5)
His name was Elkanah. He wasn’t a perfect guy, but he loved her. He loved her more than his other wife! Polygamy was a common practice in Old Testament times. But God’s plan for the highest happiness of marriage has always been monogamy.
When it came time to give offerings, he would give more to Hannah. He loved her.
Second, she was part of a worshipping family.
They loved God. They worshipped regularly. They honoured the Lord. Every year Elkanah, his two wives, Hannah and Peninnah, and all of Peninnah’s sons and daughters, would go up to Shiloh to worship God.
There were blessings in her life, but there were also trials. Do you know that you can be blessed and still have a broken heart?
Certainly for our sisters who desire to be a mother but aren’t, Mothers’ Day can be a very difficult time. This was the source of Hannah’s broken heart: she was childless. She wanted kids. I believe God has put it into the heart of women to be moms. We even see this in little girls as they play with dolls. From the earliest age, little girls are tapping into the fact that God has made them to provide nurture and care as a mom. They love their dolls. They name them, they have tea parties with them. It’s likely that all her life Hannah was look forward to being a mommy.
Yet God had closed her womb. And so she had a broken heart.
In the time of Hannah, being childless would be looked upon as a curse from God, largely because a man’s posterity would be wrapped up in his wife’s role to bear children. So not only did Hannah want children simply because God made her a mom, but she wanted children because it would be a blessing to her husband and it would take away this incredible stigma that the Hebrew culture was placing upon her.
To make matters worse, there was someone in her life that was taunting her. She had a rival named Peninnah.
She’s living in a house with someone that she didn’t get along with. Every minute of every day she had to endure dirty looks, elbows in the ribs as they passed in the hallway. Penninah would probably give Elkanah affection in front of her to spite her. It’s safe to say that Hannah was miserable.
1 Samuel 1:6 says that her rival provoked her severely to make her miserable. It sounds like Peninnah would do whatever it takes to make Hannah mad, to irritate her, to frustrate her. How sad! Her life was one difficult heart break.
Elkanah knew what was going on. He tried to minister to his wife. “Hannah, sweetie, why are you crying? You have me. Am I not better to you than 10 sons?” But no matter what her husband did, Hannah was at a point where no human help would do. Only God could take care of her. Only God knew the depth of her heartbreak
Because in the middle of her heart ache God was preparing her to be a mom.
Everyone on the face of the planet, at some point, has a broken heart. Certainly, every mom, from time to time, has a broken heart. What do you do with your broken heart?
Hannah did the right thing with her pain. As we see the second experience of a godly mom.
A Fervent Prayer (v9-18)
“So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle of the Lord. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish. Then she made a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.” And it happened, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli watched her mouth. Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, “How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!” But Hannah answered and said, “No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now.” Then Eli answered and said, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him.” And she said, “Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.” So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.” (1 Samuel 1:9–18, NKJV)
You’ve got pain? Take it to the Lord.
Hannah called on the lord. After the meal was over, she prayed and wept in anguish. It was an “Oh God, please!” prayer of desperation; she just needed God to move.
Have you ever prayed like that?
1 Samuel 1:10 says that her prayer was coming out of “bitterness of soul” and anguish. She was praying through her tears. She wasn’t praying because she had to, or she knew it was the right thing to do. She was praying because she needed to pray in order to survive.
I believe at this moment Hannah reached a new point in her faith. She got to a place of surrender. “Not my will, but thine be done.” “Lord, whatever you want.” “God, I give it all to you.” “I’m not my own. I belong to You.” “Oh God, I bow before you. Whatever you have for me, it’s all yours.”
That was the prayer of Hannah. It wasn’t a one time prayer. I believe Hannah was praying a “never-giving-up” kind of prayer. God had put something on her heart. She was connecting with the Lord! It was a holy moment! We could say it like this, she was pouring out her heart to God.
God has closed her womb, but God also put it on her heart to call upon Him – not just to pray – but to pour out her heart to Him.
She had a need that her husband couldn’t meet. She was in a situation that money could not fix. The only way that her problem would be solved would be for God to work a miracle.
Sound familiar? You may be in a situation where nobody can help. No amount of money, no amount of counseling. It’s a situation completely beyond your control. You need God to do a miracle. May I encourage you to pour out your heart to the Lord? God answers prayer. It may take a long time.
Hannah was so engaged in prayer, she was so in the presence of the Lord, that as Eli, the priest, looked on and saw her lips moving, tears running down her face, he thought she was drunk, so he rebuked her: “Put your wine away woman, how dare you drink in here!”
The spiritual leader just made a mistake. But that’s a whole different blog post!
Not only did Hannah have someone at home living with her that was a thorn in her side, when she comes into the house of God, the pastor misunderstands her. How bad can it get!?
Hannah had to look not just beyond her husband, but beyond her pastor. She had to call upon the Lord.
Only God truly knows what you are going through.
“It is better to trust in the Lord Than to put confidence in man.” (Psalm 118:8)
Something happened in 1 Samuel 1:17-18: as Eli says, “Go in peace…..”, it seems that Hannah knew that her prayer would be answered. It was enough. She stopped crying, she went her way. She had done all that she could do, the rest, now, would be in God’s hands. Her heart was healed.
I’m sure the provoking and insulting continued, but Hannah was a new woman.
A Divine Answer (v19-23)
“Then they rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord, and returned and came to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked for him from the Lord.” Now the man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and his vow. But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “Not until the child is weaned; then I will take him, that he may appear before the Lord and remain there forever.” So Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him. Only let the Lord establish His word.” Then the woman stayed and nursed her son until she had weaned him.” (1 Samuel 1:19–23, NKJV)
God answered her prayer. “The Lord remembered her.” For years she had prayed. For years she had endured misery and provocation. She was attacked at home and misunderstood at church. But finally, the Lord remembered her. But finally, God answered her prayer. She cried unto the Lord…and verse 20 says, it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son.
There’s nothing like an answer to prayer. It builds your faith. It shows you that God is real and concerned about you.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12)
Hannah now had that tree of life. Her heart was sick, but when the desire came, she knew that it all had been worth it.
All through the Scriptures we see God answering the cry of His people. When the Israelites were in bondage in slavery, the bible says that God heard their cry, He remembered His promise, and He raised up a deliverer – a man named Moses, who led them out of slavery.
Pharaoh’s armies were coming to attack them after they left Egypt. There is a mountain on each side and a big sea in front of them. The bible says they cried out to God, and God did a miracle, he parted the Red Sea.
Years later, the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord; they were serving false gods. Consequently, they were oppressed by their enemies. The bible says, they cried out to the Lord, and the Lord raised up a man who delivered them from their enemies.
When God’s people were at war with a group called the Hagrites, 2 Chronicles 5:20 says that the “Hagrites were delivered into their hand….for they cried out to God in the battle. He heeded their prayer, because they put their trust in Him.”
Over and over again, the pattern is the same: Put your trust in God, cry out to Him. He will hear you, He will remember you.
One of Judah’s kings was named Asa. He was in a battle. His army numbered 580,000. He was going against an enemy from Ethiopia of one million! As he was setting up his troops in battle array, God’s word in 2 Chronicles 14:11, records his prayer. More than a prayer, it says, “And Asa cried out to the Lord his God, and said, “Lord, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude. O Lord, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You!”” (2 Chronicles 14:11)
The very next verse says that the Lord struck their enemies and they fled.
Are you in a battle that seems insurmountable? Do you feel that you are facing an enemy and you are outnumbered? Take note of this: not once in God’s word did anyone ever cry out to God and not be heard. Deliverance might not happen overnight. But rest assured, God will hear your cry and He will answer.
As a mom, there will come many times where you will cry out to the Lord. God will hear your cry.
It may be a cry, like Hannah, “O God, please give me a child.” There have been many a barren woman that God has blessed with child.
“He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord.” (Psalm 113:9)
God will hear your cry, mom. For Him, every day is Mothers’ Day!
Maybe you pour out your heart to him as your precious baby is sick. You call upon His name when your toddler falls and bumps his head. You cry out to God when you elementary child gets into trouble.
You really cry out to God when your son or daughter turns into a teenager. Maybe they start testing you. They make some bad decisions. They’re heading in a wrong direction. You pray that God would grab their heart and use them for His glory.
And He does!
And now you are crying tears of heartache have turned to tears of joy.
“Never was a faithful prayer lost. Some prayers have a longer voyage than others, but when they return with their richer lading at last, so that the praying soul is a gainer by waiting for an answer.” (William Gurnall)
God loves to answer prayer. He will answer prayer. It happens all the time. Joseph Hall said it well when he put it like this: “Good prayers never come weeping home. I am sure I shall receive either what I ask or what I should ask.”
A response of worship (v24-28)
“Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bulls, one ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the Lord in Shiloh. And the child was young. Then they slaughtered a bull, and brought the child to Eli. And she said, “O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord.” So they worshiped the Lord there.” (1 Samuel 1:24–28, NKJV)
Because God answered her prayer, she gave him back to God. She let him go. That is true worship: surrendering everything you have to the Lord.
As parents, we worship when we come to the understanding that our children are not our own. They belong to God. A godly mom is going to recognize this. A godly mom knows that you have only been given these children for a finite number of years. Each of your children is a gift from God, and belongs to God. “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” (Psalm 127:3, NLT)
A parent’s role is to manage them, to love them, to teach them, and to raise them up to love and serve God. A true act of worship is to, in your heart, let them go. “Lord, I realize that they are not my own. They are leant to me from You. I give them back to You.”
Hannah had it right. That’s worship.
Her child was named Samuel. He went on to become a great leader of God’s people. The whole country looked to him for spiritual guidance.
Every Christian parent’s dream and prayer is to see their children walk with God. I constantly pray, “Lord, may our children be leaders of Your kingdom in their generation.”
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (3 John 4)
God blessed Hannah with five more kids. (1 Samuel 2:21). Sometimes you just have to wait and pray.
But sometimes, God chooses another path for your life. It is a path of unrealized dreams. It is a difficult path. But Jesus is able to be your all in all even when you struggle to live a fulfilled life in spite of unfulfilled desires. God knows your situation. God knows everything about you. He is moving in your life; He is working all things out for His glory. Flee to Him!
I did not grow up in a perfect situation. My mom, while she was an awesome mom and a great woman, was not perfect. She did not really know who Jesus was during most of her time as a mom. But God reached down, orchestrated her life and situation and revealed himself to her.
Click here to read about the circumstances surrounding my mom going to heaven.
Click here to listen to a message I shared last Mothers’ Day.