Summary: We honor mothers for being their best based on their family context. The criterion is how they respond to the challenges surrounding them – the attitude and character they demonstrate in specific family context.
Hannah: A Portrait of a Seasoned Mother
ILLUSTRATION Based on the study made by Salary.com, if the typical stay-at-home mother in the U.S. were paid for her work as housekeeper, cook, daycare center teacher, laundry machine operator, van driver, facilities manager, janitor, computer operator, chief executive officer and psychologist, she would earn $138, 095 a year.
Today is a special day to honor the mothers. Why do we honor the mothers? What are the criteria for honoring them? I think it is difficult to establish common criteria for all mothers because each mother has a different situation and opportunity in life. Example: We cannot say that…
Professional Mother > Stay-at home Mother
Married Mother > Single Mother
Elite Mother > Middle Class Mother
In fact, we need to honor all of them no matter what their identities are. We honor mothers for being their best based on their family context. The criterion is how they respond to the challenges surrounding them – the attitude and character they demonstrate in specific family context.
What are the attitudes and characters of a mother that deserve recognition? Hannah was considered one of the best mothers in the Bible but what made her deserving of honor for mother. Let us read 1 Samuel 1:1-28.
1. Hannah’s PERSEVERANCE in an adverse condition. (vv. 1-8)
a. Unfair judgment based on unrealistic community expectations. (vv. 1-5)
One of the main roles of a wife in those days was to provide children. A barren womb was considered a curse and Hannah would have been looked down upon because of her failure to bear a child. Despite of her condition, she persevered.
There are thousands of moms who are victim of unfair judgment based on unrealistic community’s expectation. As a mother, you cannot help but to live a life based on the picture your community created. It is difficult because the standards they use on you are unrealistic and unfair.
For example, they expect mothers to do all household chores because they are the women despite of the fact that they also work outside home. They are abused and overused and yet they persevere. These are the moms that we honor today.
b. Lack of empathy from people close to her. (vv. 6-8)
Though the Bible records the polygamous relationships of some of the patriarchs, it never endorses it. God’s Word teaches the monogamous relationship. It’s likely that Elkanah had married Hannah first and then, because she was not able to have children, he decided to marry Penninah.
Penninah - “…her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her.” (v. 6) Instead of being thankful that she had children, she felt the need to torment and harass Hannah. The word “provoke” literally means, “to stir up purposely.” She’s trying to get Hannah to lose her temper. Verse 7 reveals that Penninah did this every year when they went to Shiloh.
Elkanah - In verse 8, Elkanah tried his best to comfort his wife: “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” While it’s significant that a husband would even notice a wife’s sadness and want to find out why she’s crying, I wonder if his attempt at empathy should be appreciated.
One commentator said that Elkanah did what many of us husbands do when our wives are upset. Instead of listening to her pain, he seems to be rationalizing her problems and feelings. He’s trying to solve when he should be seeking to understand. He’s basically saying, “Darling, I am here what more could you want?”
I’m not sure if Elkanah really understood how deeply she wanted to have a child. Mothers I know that some of you have been hit with some insensitive comments, either by your husband, or from others. God understands your pain.
When you persevere despite the lack of empathy from people close to you and unfair judgment base on unrealistic expectations, you truly deserve our praises and honor today.
2. Hannah’s DEPENDENCE on God in times of crises. (vv. 9-18)
a. She turned to God for her needs. Why?
The most difficult thing that Hannah faced is the phrase that is repeated twice, once at the end of verse 5 and again at the beginning of verse 6: “And the Lord had closed her womb.” The problem that she was having came from the Lord. This is one of the hardest lessons we will ever learn.
Our problems are given to us by the Lord Himself. It is God who is behind the circumstances of life. We don’t really want to believe this. We’d rather blame it all on Satan, or on someone else. But it is God who allows good things and bad things to come into our lives.