Sunday, 27 May 2012

Matriarchs on a Monday - Hannah - Part 1....consideration and contentment

Oh, where do I begin with this lady?

So much to think about - so much to learn from - so much to ponder.

I simply cannot deal with it in one post, so I will split it up.

As a mother, this story speaks to me in a very profound way.

I challenge any mother not to be deeply affected by the emotions portrayed in this account.

As a mother blessed with 7 children, in some ways I cannot fully understand the grief felt by this dear woman.

"and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children."
I Samuel 1:2

Hannah was barren.  She watched on as her husband's other wife was blessed with children, and she had none.

The heartache as she saw her being blessed with child after child.  As she longed for just ONE of her own.

And yet, the Lord saw fit for her to remain childless.

How hard that must have been for her.  Her arms empty.  Her heart sad.  That deep desire to be blessed.

And nothing.

If "only" it had been that she could not bear children.  That was a hard enough thing all on its own.


She had to contend with a woman who could not just be happy with the blessings she had.

She had to endure the mocking and provoking of Peninah.

"HA!  God has blessed me with all these children....and you have NONE..."

Elkanah sought to pour out his love to her by giving  her gifts, and lavishing his love upon her in material ways.

But this was not enough to satisfy the saddened soul of Hannah.

Before we even move into the crux of this story, there are lessons to be gleaned.

Once again, we see that God's design for marriage has good cause - one man - one woman.  2 women just doesn't work!

But on a more spiritual note, there are two things to be considered that apply more to our lives as women.

Consideration and contentment.

This applies to many areas of life, but let's just consider it with regard to child-bearing first of all.

There are truths in scripture, that are undeniable. 

Children are a blessing.

"Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. "
Psalm 127:3  

We should be kind and considerate.

"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 
 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted..."

Eph 4:31 & 32 

God is sovereign.  He is in control over all things.

"Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"
Genesis 18:25

"Ascribe ye greatness unto our God. 
 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he."
Deuternomy  32 :3&4

We should be content.

 "But godliness with contentment is great gain." 

I Timothy 6:6 

"and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. "
Hebrews 13:5

If all of this is true - and it is - then we can see how being considerate and content apply in this situation.

Peninah had been blessed with children.  It was not right of her to boast about it to Hannah.  To brag about it and to intentionally cause pain and heartache for her.  Her heart was wrong.  SO wrong.

The same applies to us.  If we are blessed with children, it is not out place to brag and boast about them, when it could cause sadness to others, who have not been blessed in the same way.  I know of very dear, sweet ladies who cannot have children.  People may look on and think that they choose to have no children, for their own benefit or to further their career.  This is so wrong to judge someone in that way.  SO wrong.  To make a judgement on the heart of another, who may be saddened that they cannot have a child of their own.

I know of lovely ladies that may have one or two, but would DEARLY love more, and in God's will, it simply has not happened. 

Some have suffered ill health, and physically cannot have any more.

They have to battle with their spirits, not to look on others with more and be bitter about it. 

So, we come around to the contentment aspect.  

Peninah was not the only one in the wrong.  So was Hannah!  

I am not suggesting that it is wrong to feel a sadness, when we do not receive something that we desire from the Lord.  Especially children - because I think that God gives us a maternal desire for children.    

However, from what we are told, it appears that Hannah became despondent and miserable.  She wept and refused to eat.  Yes, Peninah agitated and provoked her, but she chose to respond in this way.  She could have chosen to graciously respond, and accept God's plan for her.  But, she chose to be miserable and discontent.

In this, and in ANY area of life where we do not have something that we desire, we MUST be content. And, it applies to more than children.  Our home.  Our circumstances.  Our financial situation.  Our family.

Ah! But it's easy for you to say all of this when you already have seven children!!

When others ask me about my big family, and "will you have any more then?"...I reply the same as I always have.  

"I never take anything for granted - if God gives me more, I would be thrilled, but I am very blessed to have the children that He has given me."

It was not in my power to conceive and have the children I have.  God is in control, and it is His plan.

You simply cannot say that I should not have had them...that it's "too many" - because it quite obviously is God's plan that I should!  (If you believe in God's sovereignty, that is!...)

Equally, if God has chosen to withhold that particular blessing from another, then that is equally His plan for them.  His perfect plan.

And, you cannot argue with scripture.  I didn't write it - God inspired it. 

I think that the second scripture I quoted about contentment really sums up how we should view our lives, above all else.  My lovely friend Heidi dealt with this in her talk about marriage myths, that I heard last week.

 "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee"

Where should our satisfaction come from - day after day - moment by moment?

It should come from the fact that we have a relationship with the Lord.  That He is with us.  That we are joined with Him.  In our walk with Him.  In our completion in Him.

We do not need children or a husband to be truly complete and satisfied.

Only Christ provides true satisfaction.

Bragging about our blessings will not make us complete and satisfied.

Mourning about the things that we do not have will certainly not give us satisfaction.

"And ye are complete in him,"
Colossians 2:10  

If we look to any temporal sources to meet our needs and desires, we will be sorely disappointed, and they will fail us.  

"they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water."
Jeremiah 2:13

Are we trying to find contentment in the vessels of temporal pleasures?  Are we seeking satisfaction in what we have, or in Whom we trust?

Are we remembering to...

"seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
Matthew 6:33

"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:19

God knows exactly what we need, and He is able to supply it, if it is His will to do so.

And, as a final consideration, we need to remember...

"for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."
Philippians 4:11

Not "I am immediately able to be content"...but, I have LEARNED.  

It takes time - it takes commitment - it takes patience - it takes trust.

And, this verse is swiftly followed by the encouragement...

 "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
Philippians 4:13

Before we go on any further with Hannah, let's learn these lessons 

- of our completion in Christ

- to be considerate to others

- to be content with God's plan for our life.

May the Lord grant us the grace and strength to do all these things. 


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