Summary: Discover what we can learn from Elkanah and Hannah to have a happy Mother’s Day
Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!
On Mother’s Day 2003, we looked at what the Bible said about living worry-free. That was of great interest to mothers, because generally worry much more than others. On this Mother’s Day, we will look at how to overcome unhappiness associated with motherhood.
The words, unhappiness and motherhood, are often spoken and heard in the same sentence. People who have not experienced motherhood may disagree, but mothers who have given up careers, leisure, freedom and personal dreams for the sake of their children and the family have all struggled with self-pity and unhappiness.
Many books on marriage and motherhood give as a solution to unhappy wives and mothers the encouragement of choosing to be happy. While many people are unhappy by choice, I’ve also come across unhappy mothers who need more than a volitional choice to be happy.
Some mothers are not happy, because they live with difficult situations. Other mothers are not happy, because they are married to difficult husbands. Others are not happy because they are raising difficult children. Furthermore, mature mothers generally do not make happiness their highest priority. They make raising mature children their highest priority.
Now this does not mean that happiness is not a part of mature parents’ experience. Happiness in motherhood is possible, and often not as a direct result of mothers pursuing happiness in parenting. Happiness in motherhood is often influenced by the father in the family and by the motives of the mother.
This morning, we will ask six questions, three to fathers and three to mothers. And discovering your answers to these questions may be the first step toward a happy motherhood. Our text is 1 Samuel 1.
1 Samuel 1 gives the setting to introduce Samuel, the last judge of Israel, and the beginning of Israel’s monarchy. This chapter also gives insight to the making of a happy mother. If we read the first part of chapter two, we would read about a mother whose heart was full of rejoicing.
On the surface, Hannah rejoiced because God answered her prayer for a son. But Hannah’s unhappiness was not caused by her barrenness. Hannah’s unhappiness resulted from the tension brought on by her husband’s other wife, Peninnah.
Elkanah loved Hannah more than Peninnah, but he married Peninnah, because he wanted children. In this, we see a husband’s action greatly influencing the happiness or unhappiness of his wife.
Husbands and Dads, if you want to be married to a happy wife, as much as it depends on you, (sometimes your wife’s happiness does not depend on you) then ask yourselves these three questions.
First, “Are there culturally acceptable but not biblically acceptable behaviors I am practicing?”
Elkanah practiced polygamy. Marrying more than one woman was acceptable in the ancient culture to form alliances and to produce children for perpetuating the husband’s name and passing on his estate. But the Bible is clear that God intended marriage to consist of one man and one woman.
Elkanah did what was culturally acceptable but not biblically acceptable. As a result, he brought hurtful tension and competition to his wife and family. In our culture, gambling is acceptable. Lust is acceptable. Covetousness is acceptable. Workaholism is acceptable. Male pride is acceptable. But these practices are not biblically acceptable. They produce financial, emotional, time and relational tension and competition for our wife and our family. If we hope to experience happiness in our marriage and family, we need to stop doing what the Bible makes clear is unacceptable.
Second, “Am I focusing on sacrifice to God rather than obedience to God?”
Elkanah was a spiritual and pious man. He faithfully sacrificed to God at the appropriate times, but he did not obey God’s instruction for marriage. He violated God’s marriage covenant for one man and one woman.
In 1 Samuel 15:22, we read from Samuel, “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”
A husband can lead Bible studies, lead worship, serve as a ministry team leader, give generous amounts of time and money, and not be obedient to God. To sacrifice for God is pleasing to God. But God is more pleased by our obedience to His commands, including His commands regarding the marriage covenant.
God commands us to love our wife as Christ loved the Church and to prefer harmony, humility and our wife’s interests above our own. Sacrifice to God is good, but to obey God in all matters is better. And obeying God in your marriage and family can bring true happiness to you and your spouse.
Third, “How am I responsible for the negative emotions my wife is feeling?”
Elkanah favored Hannah over Peninnah. He gave Hannah twice as much as he gave to Peninnah. He wanted to cheer up Hannah. He thought he could be the solution to Hannah’s happiness, but he never considered himself to be the cause of her unhappiness.