A Mother’s Prayer

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As some of you know, I spoke at my local MOPS group this week. I wanted to share what God placed on my heart for these women. I trust that the Holy Spirit will speak to you through these words as well.

1 Samuel 2:1-10

Then Hannah prayed and said:

“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.

“Do not keep talking so proudly

or let your mouth speak such arrogance,

for the LORD is a God who knows,

and by him deeds are weighed.

“The bows of the warriors are broken,

but those who stumbled are armed with strength.

Those who were full hire themselves out for food,

but those who were hungry are hungry no more.

She who was barren has borne seven children,

but she who has had many sons pines away.

“The LORD brings death and makes alive;

he brings down to the grave and raises up.

The LORD sends poverty and wealth;

he humbles and he exalts.

He raises the poor from the dust

and lifts the needy from the ash heap;

he seats them with princes

and has them inherit a throne of honor.

“For the foundations of the earth are the LORD’s;

on them he has set the world.

He will guard the feet of his faithful servants,

but the wicked will be silenced in the place of darkness.

It is not by strength that one prevails;

those who oppose the LORD will be broken.

The Most High will thunder from heaven;

the LORD will judge the ends of the earth.

“He will give strength to his king

and exalt the horn of his anointed.”

The story of Hannah from the Old Testament has always been a favorite of mine. I’ve always admired her faith, and I was elated when we had a daughter to name after her. I spent time during my pregnancy learning more about Hannah so that I could teach my little Hannah about her namesake. That’s one advantage of naming your children after people in the Bible. They automatically have a role model, and I enjoy telling and re-telling the stories of Noah, Jacob and Levi to my boys. Oh, how I looked forward to teaching my daughter about the faithful and courageous Hannah we learn about in I Samuel. Maybe this Old Testament Hannah can teach my little Hannah…I guess she’d do a better job anyway!

In case you aren’t familiar with her story, let me summarize a small portion of Hannah’s life. While you read this, remember that Hannah isn’t that different from you or me. She wasn’t superhuman or anything like that. Try to think of her as you would a close friend…or yourself, flawed and corrupted by sin.

Hannah was married to a man named Elkanah, a devout Israelite and loving husband. He was diligent in taking his family to the temple for the annual sacrifice. Despite cultural pressures, he loved Hannah even though she was barren. There was a problem in their family though. Elkanah was also married to Peninnah, who could and was giving him children. As if the pain of longing for a child wasn’t enough, Peninnah teased Hannah and made her sorrow unbearable.

As they reached the temple one particular year, Hannah was in such misery that she could not eat her double portion (see I Samuel 1:1-8). She entered the temple and she made a vow to God 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.” (v11) In fact, her prayer was so heartfelt that Eli, the priest, accused her of being drunk. While she didn’t tell him what she was praying, she assured him that she wasn’t drunk, only “deeply troubled” and as a result, “pouring out [her] soul to the LORD.” (v15)

Her plea to Eli worked, because he blessed her and asked God to grant her the prayer request. (v17) The Holy Spirit must have spoken straight through Eli’s mouth to Hannah’s heart, because she immediately changed. She went from being in anguish to eating and showing a “no longer downcast” countenance. (v18) Sure enough, God answered Hannah’s prayer. Elkanah and Hannah conceived, had a baby boy and named him Samuel.

Hannah raised Samuel in the family home until it was time to wean him. Then, as the time came for another annual sacrifice, Hannah prepared to take Samuel to the temple. Remember, she vowed to give her son back to God. She even dedicated him as a Nazarite. We won’t go into what that means exactly, but you could look it up in Numbers 6:1-21. For now, just know that Samuel was set apart for a special service to God. Hannah left her son, her only son, her only child at the temple to be trained under the care of Eli. Fully knowing that she would only see him once a year, Hannah left her son. She entrusted him to God.

Can you imagine? 

Probably not. Let’s consider a more modern situation. In Kenya, missionary kids can go to boarding school. Most of my friends in Kenya send their kids to Rift Valley Academy for high school, but let’s say you had to send your 5 year old there. You live here in the U.S., but your child, your 5-year old, must go to kindergarten at Rift Valley Academy in Kenya. You could only see him once a year because you can’t afford to fly him back and forth. Could you do that? What if it was the best school in America? What if it wasn’t? What if you profess to trust God with your child and this was clearly what He wanted you to do?

Please know that I’m not making any statements about where your child(ren) should go to school. I’ll entrust the Holy Spirit to instruct you on that issue. I know we are not sending our children to school. We homeschool by choice, and we love it (most of the time). School is not the issue. But what I am saying is this: Are you trusting God with your children?

Because my God didn’t ask me to send my 5-year old to boarding school. My God asked me to send my 1-year old to heaven…And I said, “Yes!”

I didn’t say “yes” because I wanted my daughter to die. I’m not crazy nor am I claiming to be a saint. I’m not a saint. My husband isn’t a saint. We aren’t superhuman or anything extraordinary. We are, however, choosing to trust our holy God with our children. Let me give you some reasons we find Him trustworthy.

Reason #1: We serve a really big God.

We could willingly send our daughter to heaven because we serve a really big God. A God who loves our children way more than we could. A God who knows our children better than we ever could know them. A God who desires them to be with Him in heaven more than anything else.

At some point, back when Noah (my firstborn who is now 7) was a toddler, I asked God to reveal His heart to me, to make His desires my desires (instead of the other way around), and He heard my prayer. I remember sobbing over my 2-year-old Noah as I asked God to protect him, for I knew that he was a gift from God, that life was fragile and offered no guarantees. God spoke to my heart. I don’t think it was that same night, but I know God did something miraculous. He did make His desires my desires. He gave me a new priority in prayer.

Since that point, my number one prayer for my children was that they would get to heaven. Yes, I still pray for protection and health and blessings. However, happiness and an easy life never take priority over getting them to heaven. If it costs me my reputation as a good mother, then I’m willing to sacrifice. If it means that my kids will make terrible, maybe even life-changing decisions, then I’ll walk with them through it. If it means sending my 1-year-old baby girl to heaven, then I’m ok with that, because God is answering that prayer. It might not be my plan, but I trust God. I trust that He would NEVER do anything to harm my children that He wouldn’t use for good. I believe that because His Word tells me this in Romans 8:28.

Reason #2: We have examples to follow.

Another reason I could willingly give my child back to God is that I have an entire Bible filled with examples of people who were asked to do crazy things for God, and God ALWAYS proved Himself trustworthy. Abraham, Joseph, Hannah, David, Daniel, etc. did insane things to show that their God was God. They weren’t superhuman. They just trusted a God who was able to fulfill the promises he made to them.

My God promised that my life would be better than I could ever imagine…IF I trusted and followed Him. He even gave us a double rainbow to remind us of that promise. While it doesn’t feel so good right now, I am holding God to His promise.

Reason #3: God is our perfect example.

Finally, and most importantly, I can still rejoice and say my God is good because He’s not asking me to do anything He’s not willing to do. He knows my pain. He knows what it’s like to watch a child die. He watched His only Son die on the cross. He gave up His only child for me. He did this not because He’s a cruel and unloving God but because it was the best way. It was the only way He could redeem His people. While Hannah’s death doesn’t have the power that Christ’s death did, it is bringing people to God. We know of several people who received salvation because of Hannah’s story, and many, many people have been brought closer to God as a result.

Remember, Hannah prayed that prayer of praise AFTER giving Samuel back to God. While I’m sure she rejoiced the first time she felt Samuel kick inside her womb and surely she sang a song of praise the first time she held that long-awaited-for son, those words are not recorded in God’s flawless Word. It’s those precious words of praise that sprung from her heart after leaving her firstborn son at the temple that were recorded for us to read and study. Like Hannah, I’m choosing to rejoice after giving my daughter back to God.

Are you? First of all, if you have never trusted God with your own life, are you ready to give God your life? Are you ready and willing to trust that Jesus is the Way and the Truth and the Life, that no one come to the Father except through Him? (John 14:6) And secondly, if you are a parent, are you ready and willing to trust God with your children? It might be hard, but  it will be worth it!

Romans 12:1 instructs, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.”

I’m praying for you, dear brothers and sisters. Thank you for praying for me.

Just a sweet picture of Hannah to close this post…

Hannah

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6 responses »

  1. Steph, your faith in god continues to inspire me. I’ve taken a different look at life since the loss of Hannah. I also have two children, who are my world. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve let god be last in our lives, but thanks to you & Aaron I’ve brought god back into our life. Thank you , god bless you & your family.

  2. Would you mind if I post your testimony on my Face Book?  I think this is just to touching not to be shared. So many of my friends have been following your families story for the past few months through all your (and Aaron’s) post.  I appreciate your spirit. Thanks.

  3. Hi Stephanie,
    I’m so incredibly sorry for your loss. Words fail. My heart aches. Your sweet Hannah….
    My husband and I felt very called to ministry about 6 years ago. After months of prayer and seeking God for His plan, our daughter became ill while we were serving a ministry for women and children. Her name is Danielle. She was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor at 2 1/2 years old. She was so sweet and kind but 9 months later the Lord called her home. We have since had 2 daughters who will never replace her but one is 13 months old right now, Zoe. She even has the same highchair as Hannah.
    We’ve continued in ministry. We’ve been completely broken. I still am. But just like your hubby wrote, His strength is made perfect in weakness.
    I don’t want you to know all about me and my struggles. I just want you to know that our God is faithful even when it looks dark. I believe your sweet baby is in the awesome, fun, loving arms of Christ. I believe the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy but what Satan intends for evil God will use for good. I believe the loss of our daughters is proof of God’s calling because the enemy wants to stop us that badly. I don’t know why God allows some things. But I know His love never fails. He is SO MUCH greater than what I have lost. I don’t understand still, I still wonder and I still have feelings. But more than anything God has shown me His heart through my loss. I would never understand the sacrifice of His son so personally without the loss of my daughter and even still, she was not my only child as I’ve seen loss of many on the hem/onc floor. He grieves the loss of His children. Those who die without salvation, God created them just the same as you and I and our sweet babies. His heart cries. He is so awesome. He loves so deeply. I am so sorry Hannah isn’t here. But I pray you see the fruit of your sacrifice. I pray you are comforted in your grief. More than anything I pray you can look up and see our God holding sweet Hannah safe in the arms of love until you can again hold her, too. She’ll be your arms of love still when you get to heaven but maybe squeezed really hard for a bit? I pray for your JOY in the midst of sorrow.
    I remember washing all boys clothes and really missing seeing all the little pink socks. I even kept some of Danielle’s stuff in my closet hanging for a long time. But we buried Danielle in February 2008 and Arielle was born December 2008. We never planned more children. In fact, we planned to take a break after so many long months in the hospital. But God’s plan was so much better. He knew I needed another sweet feisty girl to teach me more about Him (and me). He knew I needed to wash more pink and paint more nails. (Lord knows I didn’t!)
    Don’t ever let your struggles stop you from serving Him. I can see the light again after being so devastated. If I was determined before, I’m about 5 times that now. I know my mission. My mission is to bring my brothers and sisters home and bless my Father. My mission is to support my like-minded hubby when the hours are long and the children are needy. When I come to the end of myself, Christ is my life.

    Kerri

  4. I continue to be blessed by your words of faith. Thank you for continuing to share your heart. I still pray for strength and peace for you and your beautiful family, God bless.

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