A Mothers Measure
Text: 1 Samuel 1
Proposition: Mothers are measured by more than just the ability to bear children, they are measured by their perseverance, by their faith, by their obedience and by their worship.
Introduction: A Spanish proverb reads "An ounce of mother is worth a ton of priest." What it refers to is the depth of direction and encouragement and love that is endowed upon mothers that they would pass to their children. Mothers are measured by more than by just the ability to bear children; they are measured by their perseverance, by their faith, by their obedience and by their worship.Over one hundred years ago, G. K. Chesterton wrote this about mothers .. "The natural operation surrounded her with very young children, who require to be taught not so much anything but everything. Babies need not to be taught a trade, but to be introduced to a world. To put the matter shortly, a woman is generally shut up in a house with a human being at the time when he asks all the questions that there are, and some that there aren't... Our race has thought it worthwhile to cast this burden on women in order to keep common-sense in the world... .But when people begin to talk about this domestic duty as not merely difficult but trivial and dreary, I simply give up the question. For I cannot with the utmost energy of imagination conceive what they mean.... if drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge (at his work)... .But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless, and of small import to the soul, then I say give it up.. ..How can it be an important career to tell other people's children about mathematics, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe?.. .A woman's function is laborious.. .not because it is minute, but because it is gigantic."I'd like to talk with you this morning about the Measure of a Mother. To do this I'm going to use a character from the pages of the Old Testament, not so much as an example but as one who helps us to see the elements of being a godly mother.Turn with me to 1 Samuel 1 where we are introduced to a young woman by the name of Hannah.
I. Motherhood Requires PerseveranceThat's such an obvious principle, it's like saying that mechanics need strong arms or roofers need a good sense of balance. But look at Hannah's story... she met and fell in love with a young man named Elkanah. Things looked wonderful... for awhile. But then it became obvious that she could not conceive, she was unable to have any children. Perhaps there was a great stress that developed in their marriage and Elkanah took an extreme measure in order to have an heir. He took another wife, Peninnah, and had children with her. That Elkanah was a good man seems to be indicated in verse 3, but the difficulty for Hannah definitely increased. As you read the next few verses you see the hurt she experienced, not just once but time and again. Every time they went to Shiloh, to annually give thanks to God for His blessing, she would be confronted with her childlessness.Both of these women teach us much about perseverance. Peninnah failed to persevere under blessing. She grew haughty and insolent. Hannah also failed to persevere, for under affliction she grew melancholy and discontented. Motherhood is not an easy task, it demands perseverance, and that often comes through failures.
II. Motherhood Requires Faith. It's often the challenge of a loved one that calls us to exercise the faith that resides in all of us. Elkanah sees his wife's distress and challenges her with what to us seems almost a painfully obvious question? "Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat and why is your heart sad?" Is this just another case of a husband being so obtuse he doesn't see the obvious? I don't think so. The simple challenge called her attention to not only the good character of her husband, (one who was better than ten sons), but also to the greater goodness of God's character. It called her to go and make things right with God. Motherhood requires a faith that not only puts the outcome of events into God's hands, it also declares a choice to give to God that which is entrusted to us. Notice to Whom it is that Hannah prays... "0 Lord of hosts". It's a term that emphasizes the omnipotence and sovereignty of God. It refers to God as the commander in chief of all the angelic hosts and of all the hosts of Israel. Faith in God is not just a belief that He is, it's a belief in Who He is that then calls for my active trust in Him. Mothers you have doubtless had your faith tested many times, maybe in the exercise of it you were ridiculed as Hannah's was, yet the impact of exercised faith will bring peace to a troubled heart. Look at the impact that faith had upon Hannah, look at verse 18... "So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad."The circumstances had not changed a bit, but Hannah had, because her faith in her omniscient and sovereign God called her to pray in way that poured out her soul. All that she could not carry, He could and would. Mothers, your faith is not only the source of your peace in raising children, it is what prompts you to cry out to God when you cannot change that which appears to be about to defeat you.
III. Motherhood Requires Obedience.The obedience of Hannah was all about her submitting her will, to her God and to her husband. She wouldn't submit to either if she didn't trust their ability to care for her. Her obedience is seen as radical in the sense that she was willing to give her only son away, that he'd serve in the temple all his days. It was probably at the age of 3 that she took young Samuel, and in obedience to what she had vowed, she gave him back to God. That's an extreme action that pulls at every parents heart. She dedicated him to the Lord... verse 28... "So I have also dedicated him to the Lord, as long as he lives he is dedicated to the Lord." The obedience of motherhood will call you to train your children, even before the age of three. The obedience of motherhood calls you to be faithful to your vows, your wedding vows, your vows of dedication, the following through on your promises to God whatever they are. Obedience has a price, the submission of your will in the pursuit of holiness.
IV. Motherhood Inspires a Response of Worship. Now that sounds like a paradox! How could two o'clock in the morning feedings inspire worship. Or how could diapers, skinned knees, or teens who are out late and you've no idea where they are, inspire worship? A four year-old and a six-year-old presented their Mom with a house plant. They had used their own money and she was thrilled. The older of them said with a sad face, "There was a bouquet that we wanted to give you at the flower shop. It was real pretty, but it was too expensive. It had a ribbon on it that said, 'Rest In Peace' and we thought it would be just perfect since you are always asking for a little peace so that you can rest."There are definitely trying times, but the wonder of the child that God has given you, the wonder of this little one to whom you alone in all the whole wide world are 'Mother', this everlasting wonder inspires in us all a response of worship. When Hannah left her little son with Eli the priest, when at the age of three her son, her only son, was separated from her, in the midst of this difficult and trying moment, she again turned to her great and sovereign God, the Lord of hosts, and she worshipped. The words of chapter two pour out her trust, her adoration and her hopes in worship.Let me close with this poem by Ruth Graham Bell, herself a mother of trying circumstances.
Had I Been Joseph's Mother
Had I been Joseph's motherI'd have prayed protection from his brothers
"God, keep him safe.He is so young, so different from the others.
"Mercifully,she never knew there would be slavery and prison, too.
Had I been Moses' motherI'd have wept to keep my little son:
praying she might forgetthe babe drawn from the water of the Nile.
Had I not kept him for her nursing him the while, was he not mine?—and she but Pharaoh's daughter?
Had I been Daniel's motherI should have pled
"Give victory!this Babylonian horde godless and cruel—Don't let him be a captive—better dead, Almighty Lord!"
Had I been Mary,Oh, had I been she,I would have cried as never mother cried,
"Anything, 0 God, Anything...but crucified."
With such prayers importunate my finite wisdom would assail Infinite Wisdom.
God, how fortunateInfinite Wisdom should prevail.
Prodigals and Those Who Love Them, Ruth Bell Graham, 1991