Throughout Scripture, God reveals His character to us. He also tells us that we are created in His image, so it comes as no surprise to see stories throughout the Bible of His children living lives that display aspects of His character, like His sacrificial love. One of these particular stories of sacrificial love that I’ve been thinking about this week as we approach Mother’s Day, is the story of Hannah found in the first chapter of 1 Samuel.
Hannah was a woman that loved her husband Elkanah dearly. She loved him so much, that she was deeply distressed to the point of not being able to eat, over the fact that she was barren and could not provide an heir for Elkanah to carry on the family’s legacy. Every year they would leave their home and travel to Shiloh to make sacrifices to the Lord. One year, she was so saddened and upset over not being able to bear a child, that while they were in Shiloh she prayed continuously to God in her despair, that He might provide a son for her. She vowed to God that if He would do this for her, then she in return would give the child back to God, to serve the Lord his whole life.
Eventually, the Lord was gracious to Hannah (the name Hannah actually means grace), and she gave birth to a boy that she named Samuel. She raised Samuel while he was an infant, and when he was weaned, Hannah fulfilled her vow to the Lord and returned to Shiloh with Samuel. She made a sacrifice to God, praising Him for his faithfulness in answering her prayer, and gave Samuel to Eli the priest, saying, “For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, his is lent to the Lord.” (1 Samuel 1:27-28). Samuel grew up to become the prophet who would guide the Israel in their transition from the period of the judges to the period of the kings. As Christians today, we see in this Old Testament story a foreshadowing of the ultimate sacrifice that Christ would make on the cross for our sins. We also understand as Christians that all of our relationships can be used to glorify God by demonstrating His sacrificial love towards those around us. Hannah could have easily kept the child for herself, establishing for him a lifestyle that fit her plans and her desires. Instead she submitted to the will of the Lord, and trusted early on that God’s plan was much greater than her own. This paints such a powerful picture of biblical motherhood, and reminds us that God designed the role of motherhood for women that He created in His own image, in order that through their unconditional love and sacrifice, His love might be shown to the world. As I reflected on this passage this week, it helped me to be even more thankful for the mother He has provided for me, and the countless sacrifices she has made. Just like with Hannah, I am able to see and experience God’s love for me through the sacrificial love that my mother gives to me.