Two weeks ago, we looked at the life of Hannah in our women of purpose in the Bible series. We saw how Hannah had given her first child to the Lord before she ever gave birth and then followed through on her commitment by yielding the child to serve with Eli, the priest who had misjudged and then ignored her as she poured her heart out to the Lord.
It may strike someone, maybe even you, that the entire process Hannah went through was a bit "unfair." Hannah agonized over her childless state while her rival wife, Peninnah, had multiple births and then somehow antagonized Hannah, "rubbing it in" that Hannah was childless while Peninnah was fertile.
After much pain and suffering, Hannah finally gave birth, but then carried her young son off to be raised in a monastery of sorts, only to see him every now and then for the rest of her life, making a new garment for him every year. All godly parents dedicate their children to the Lord's service, but usually that child stays with them until they are of the age to go off for training. In Hannah's case, Samuel went off as a toddler and, in a sense, Hannah was once again childless.
THE REST OF THE STORY
If the story ended there, it would seem a bit unfair, but God is a just God, and it is impossible to out-give Him. First, God revived Hannah's reputation in the house of God. Whereas before Eli ignored her, he eventually blessed her every time he saw her:
But Samuel was ministering before the Lord—a boy wearing a linen ephod. Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice. Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, saying, “May the Lord give you children by this woman to take the place of the one she prayed for and gave to the Lord.” Then they would go home (1 Samuel 2:18-20).
Then Hannah's personal worship life took on a whole new meaning and we read in 1 Samuel 2:1-10 her song to the Lord. Here is part of her song:
"My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance.There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God (1 Samuel 2:1-2).
It doesn't seem like Hannah resented giving her son to the Lord, does it? Sometimes the best aspect of giving is the joy the giver receives!
The best part of Hannah's story, however, is recorded in 1 Samuel 2:21: "And the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord." God gave Hannah five more children after Samuel! What's more, Samuel, the son she surrendered to the Lord, is still speaking to God's people today while we don't even know the names of one of Peninnah's children.
WHAT'S GOD ASKING YOU FOR?
If God is asking you to surrender something to Him before you have it, it is so you will not attempt to shape, control, or minimize what He ultimately wants to do for you. You may be approaching the end of the year, and you are facing another barren year behind, not like anything you wanted it to be. Yet you cannot quit or give up, and something in you is asking you to commit your future to the Lord, the future you hope to have but for some reason have not seen come to pass. I urge you to do what Hannah did, and then be encouraged by Hannah's story. Surrender your future to the Lord, follow through on the commitment, worship God, and then watch Him work on your behalf in a way that will astound you.
That is certainly my testimony as 2017 comes to a close. God has taken what I surrendered to Him years ago, before I had anything, and made it a fruitful work that I love. None of it looks like I thought it would 30 years ago, but God has surpassed all that I could imagine back then. Therefore, I am not only encouraging you from the biblical story of Hannah; I am encouraging you with my own personal testimony. God is good and I have found again and again that no one can out-give him, but it's fun trying. Have a blessed week!