Some friends of ours have eight children, each home-schooled and phenomenal. Their mother is the kind of person that always looks gorgeous and has an immaculate home. She is so together that you just want to slap her and ask, ‘Would you stop being so perfect, already?’
I would never really slap my good friend, but instead am very proud of her. I think she and her husband should teach Parenting 101 classes all across the nation! I just cannot fathom the responsibility of raising so many kids. God knew who could handle eight, so He wisely bypassed me!
For some, such as those unable to have children, you probably would not mind having eight. You would love to have even one.
Hannah understood the pain of wanting a child. She had tried for years, but was unable. Her husband tried to ease her emotional suffering by showing her extra love. As a constant companion should, he went out of his way to show her that even though she could not bear a child, he still loved her. Out of exasperation of doing everything in his power to show her unconditional love, he asked, am I not better to you than ten sons?
Sadness had so consumed Hannah, she could not respond. She probably wondered how her husband could even understand her pain, since he already had children by the other wife. Hannah was barren and that was all she could process. Her husband’s love, though genuine, was not enough to overcome her sorrow. It was not enough to soothe the festering wound of an empty womb.
God understands our pain. He wants us to accept His love and grace as enough. Just as Hannah’s husband wanted her to know that he was there for her, God wants us to know that He is constantly working behind the scenes to reward us with good. As our constant companion, who is fully able to understand our struggles, God asks of us, Am I not better to you than ten sons? Than ten of what the enemy has stolen or broken. Than ten times what you want or need.
Is God’s grace enough for us? Or does our happiness depend on something more?
Every year, Hannah went with her husband to Shiloh for their required sacrifices, but she went in anguish of soul. Her pain seemed incurable and her sorrow unbearable, until something changed. Like all the other trips, she entered the temple with a sorrowful heart; however, this time, she did not leave the same. She entered broken, but this time left overjoyed.
Most agree that the likely source of Hannah’s new found joy was from her faith that God answered her prayers for a son. At the altar, Hannah had laid bare her anguish and let completely go of her burden. Eli, upon hearing of her heartfelt cry, confirmed to her that God would favor her with a child. Completely confident in her promised son, Hannah left overjoyed.
However, the real reason for her joy had to go deeper; it must have been from something more. What lasting joy could come in knowing that the very thing desired, she must soon afterwards return? Part of her promise for a son was contingent upon Hannah’s vow to commit him back to the Lord. A son, no doubt, but she would in essence live apart from her blessing. If her source of joy came only in knowing she would give birth to a son, it could not possibly have sustained her against the inevitable sadness resulting from having to give back the child for which she yearned.
More than being simply glad over the promise of a son, Hannah’s joy was a direct result of her realization that God was enough. She reached the bottom of herself, by surrendering her sorrows completely to the Lord, and in the process found that her sufficiency was in God alone. She cast her burden on the Lord, and He did sustain her.
How does Scripture bear record of this? In 1 Samuel, we learn that God did open Hannah’s womb, and she gave birth to a son. Faithful to her word, after weaning Samuel she lent him back to God for lifelong service. She did so, not knowing if she would ever have children again. What’s more, upon relinquishing her only child into the care of Eli, Hannah then prays a very telling prayer. A prayer that revealed Hannah had discovered the true source of joy.
My heart rejoices in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord. I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation.
1Samuel 2: 1
Hannah had found the true source of happiness. Having her husband’s love was not enough. Having a son was not enough. God alone was enough. She got her promised child, but ultimately found that God was her truest reward. He is the promised salvation of her soul. God now meant more to her than even 10 sons. Since the same God who is our reward, also loves to reward, Hannah could now believe that He might just bless her back by giving her those same 10 sons!
I love my son, but I know that I could never have handled eight. My hat’s off to my friends! Like for Hannah, though, my joy and sufficiency cannot be dependent on others, not even my son. Only God can give true contentment. Only He can sustain every burden I cast at His feet. He is the source of true happiness.
God continues to ask each of us, Am I not better to you than 10 sons? We may believe that He is, and even say so. Like Hannah, though, we must show Him by surrendering our all at His feet. The joy of God’s salvation we receive in return is better than 10 of anything!
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