Hannah: Pain, Sacrifice, and Love
Mother's Day blog By Dr. Shana Wise
This month we are studying various scriptures about God’s love. This Sunday happens to be Mother’s Day.
Hannah was the woman who came to mind when I thought about a mother of the bible and the sacrificial love, she displayed with her son Samuel.
This is a story that all of us can relate to.
There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. 2 He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none. 3 Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the Lord Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the Lord. 4 Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters.5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb.6 Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. 7 This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. 8 Her husband Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?
During this part of the text, Hannah was unable to have children. Yet her husband’s other wife Peninnah had several children and use to tease and provoke Hannah about it.
Every year her husband would take his family to worship God at the temple. He loved Hannah very much and tried to display his affection for her by giving her more food than the others, yet this did not help Hannah feel better about herself and her situation.
Have you ever been loved by another person, but their love couldn’t help how you were feeling about yourself?
I'm sure Hannah's infertility issues affected her self-esteem and she was constantly taunted by another woman, who “seemed” to have more than her. It is hard to love yourself and for others to love you when you feel insufficient, insecure, and tormented.
We all know people who may be in this type of mindset. What can we do to help them?
Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house. 10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on 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.” 12 As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.” 15 “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. 16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” 17 Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” 18 She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast. 19 Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20 So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”
Have you ever bargained with God in prayer? That’s what Hannah did. She was so broken and distraught that she prayed in this manner (vs. 11).
The priest Eli thought that Hannah was drunk while she was praying because her lips her moving but nothing audible was coming out. Once he found out why she was behaving in this manner, he blessed her by speaking a word over her: Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”
Sometimes people like Hannah just need someone to come in agreement with what they are believing for. They also need someone to “see” them and acknowledge their presence (and state of mind). Compassion is a by-product of love; when Eli spoke to Hannah, he displayed compassion.
Have you ever been in a bad place in your being, and someone was compassionate with you? How did it make you feel? Did it help your situation?
Notice how Hannah’s continence changed once she received a word from Eli. The word that Eli spoke to her changed her view of her situation. She believed in the man of God and she believed that God heard her prayer. Her faith had been activated.
Hannah’s attitude change through her faith in God was instrumental in her becoming pregnant. Her heart had been changed and her womb opened.
Hannah displayed her gratitude through the naming of her son, “… She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”
How have you expressed your gratitude for God when he answered you in prayer?
When her husband Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the Lord and to fulfill his vow, 22 Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, “After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the Lord, and he will live there always.” 23 “Do what seems best to you,” her husband Elkanah told her. “Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the Lord make good his word.” So the woman stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him. 24 After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. 25 When the bull had been sacrificed, they brought the boy to Eli, 26 and she said to him, “Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. 27 I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. 28 So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.
We now see Hannah in a different light. She is no longer tormented, sad, or insecure. She is a mother who has been made whole (physically and spiritually). Hannah kept her vow to God. She dedicated her son to the Lord once he was weaned. Her giving her son back to the Lord was a demonstration of sacrificial love.
Can you imagine the feeling and emotions that were going through Hannah’s mind when she brought Samuel to the temple? No matter what they were, it didn’t stop her from fulfilling her promise to God.
Have you ever promised God something and you fulfilled what you committed to doing?
Have you ever demonstrated a sacrifice of love for someone else and God?
What else can we learn from this story?
In 1 Samuel 2:1-10, we see Hannah praying a song of praise unto the Lord. This prayer looked much different than the one we saw in Chapter 1. Our prayers will change and mature the more we trust, obey, and honor God. This prayer reflects the love of Hannah for God.
2 Samuel 2:11, And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with people.
Hannah’s sacrifice of love directly affected the destiny of her son Samuel. He grew up to be a mighty prophet of God. God did not forget about Hannah’s sacrifice; he blessed her with five more children (1 Sam. 2:21)! This proves that whatever we sacrifice unto the Lord, he will return the deed.
As we conclude, we have learned how God can take our pain and turn it into purpose. We can learn how loving ourselves and loving God will help us to mature in the faith. Lastly, we can know that love always wins.
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About the Author
Dr. Shana Wise is an ordained Pastor that founded and oversees Wise Choice Ministries with her husband Deacon Ron Wise. She is also the CEO and founder of The Well Christian Women’s Network. Dr. Wise is the author of Women’s Devotionals Acts of Intercession and Chief Women Arise, The Impact of Your Election, and the Basic Ministry Training Manual (all available on Amazon). She received a Doctor of Divinity degree in 2019 from St. Thomas Christian University. Her passion is to teach and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, equip others to apply the Word to their lives and demonstrate it through the power of the Holy Spirit. She is a televangelist that appears on social media outlets. Shana is married and has four children.
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