Summary: A Mother’s Day sermon, based on the story of Hannah that briefly makes three observations about motherhood.
The Sacrifice of Motherhood
Introduction: No one deserves a special day all to herself more than today’s Mom. A cartoon showed a psychologist talking to his patient: “Let’s see,” he said, “‘You spend 50 percent of your energy on your job, 50 percent on your husband and 50 percent on your children. I think I see your problem”. Without a doubt, we men and children depend much more on our wives and mothers than we perhaps realize. When God created the female of the species, she was a special creation indeed. Today, I want us to consider a woman of the Bible who had a strong desire to become a mother. Despite the pain, pressures or problems it might cause her, this lady desired with all her heart to take on that great sacrifice that’s motherhood. In light of our text, I want us to consider three points about motherhood.
I. Mothers have a tremendous influence upon their children’s lives for great good or ill. The English philosopher John Locke once said: "Parents wonder why the streams are bitter when they themselves have poisoned the fountain." But what if the fountain were full of true faith and prayer? Do you think we’d then have homes that have lost their love, churches that have lost their power, and a world that’s lost it’s mind? If we only realized the powerful effect our words and deeds produce in our children, I believe that we’d behave very differently. The Joy Luck Club, is a powerful film about some Chinese mothers and daughters who immigrated to this country over the past few decades. One insight you gain from watching this poignant movie is the powerful and almost mystic connection that exists between mother and daughter from generation to generation. The movie is a series of vignettes of several women and their relationships with their mothers. In some of the stories, mothers make tremendous sacrifices for their children, so that their daughters might have a better life than they. In other cases, mothers through selfishness have made serious mistakes that impacted their daughter’s lives in a negative way for decades. But in every case, for good or ill, each mother had an influence on her daughter that neither daughter nor mother fully understood. That brings us to the second point.
II. Motherhood’s a vocation. Not every woman is meant to be a mother any more than every man is meant to be a father. Just because a person can have children, doesn’t mean they should. Just because people are biologically equipped to become parents doesn’t mean they are psychologically or spiritually equipped. Motherhood’s a vocation. I use that word "vocation" in its Latin sense "voce" which means "to call, or "select." It’s a high calling, and there’s no more important vocation for women and men than that of nurturing children. However, today the vocation of Motherhood’s fallen on hard times. The role of Motherhood has been castigated, criticized and denigrated. Many women today have become almost apologetic about choosing motherhood as a sole vocation. This is even more true for men who choose fatherhood as their sole vocation (but that’s another sermon.) Motherhood in too many quarters, is looked upon more as a burden than a joy, and children are seen more as encumbrances to a career than as the precious gifts of God they truly are. This hasn’t always been the case. In our scripture reading this morning from 1 Samuel, we encounter a woman, who more than anything, wanted to have children. There was just one problem. She couldn’t. She was barren. And because she was childless she was sorrowful. Our scripture reading tells us that she was bitter in soul. To make matters even worse, she was being ridiculed by her rival. It’s bad enough to endure a tragic set of circumstances, but when you at the same time are being ridiculed for it, it becomes unbearable. Hannah was out of hope. She didn’t know what to do. So she did the only thing she felt she had left. She prayed to God. And guess what? God heard her prayer. God granted her request and she conceived and bore a child. She named him "Samuel" because the name sounds similar to the Hebrew word that means "asked of God." Now what I want you to notice about her prayer is not the fact that God answered it. That’s not so remarkable. But what’s remarkable is the vow she makes. What’s the one thing Hannah wants more than anything? What’s the one thing she vows to give up to God if her prayer’s heard? Now there’s nothing unusual about vows. I hear vows made all the time. People promising God that if God will spare their life, then they’ll go to church every Sunday, or become a priest, or a missionary or something else. And about 99% of these vows are never kept. It’s easy to vow to give up something you don’t have. But the remarkable thing about this story is that Hannah follows through with her vow. And that brings us to the last point I want to make about motherhood.