Hannah - A Woman of Sacrifice - Peggy Hostetler
When was the last time you sacrificed? Sacrifice means to devote or bestow a present or gift, to slay. As Christian wives and mothers, we know what it means to sacrifice. Most of us give of ourselves, daily devoting and bestowing our gifts of time and self. When we peek in on the life of Hannah we see an example of great sacrifice—that of “losing” a child and of “slaying” ones own desires to give to another. Hannah was a woman with a great emptiness in her heart. That emptiness could only be filled by a child, a son for whom Hannah had longed. Hannah’s husband, Elkanah, was a godly man. The Bible tells us in 1st Samuel that, “Year after year he went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the Lord at Shiloh.” During this time of sacrifice, Elkanah gave portions of meat to his wife, Peninnah, and to all her sons and daughters. These were sons and daughters she bore to Elkanah. But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her. Could it be that Hannah held a “special” place in his heart? Could it be that they grieved together at not creating children from that love. It tells us in the Word that, “the Lord had closed her womb.” Here we see God’s plan as it unfolds and how he had a very specific purpose in not willing blessings to Hannah and Elkanah until the precise time, His time.
Peninnah had used Hannah’s barrenness against her and wielded her influence purposefully in badgering and hurting Hannah. This thorny pain went on year after year. I believe that Peninnah did this behind her husband’s back. Hannah, being of a meek and quiet spirit did not want to gossip or display the same hatred toward Peninnah. So, she did not convey to here husband what had transpired and the situation continued unchecked. Elkanah would say to Hannah, “Why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted?” It was clear that Elkanah had no awareness of the torment Peninnah was wielding at Hannah. Holding onto this torment and not sharing it with her husband was another way in which she gave sacrificially. She did not want to show any disrespect to the other woman because of her love for Elkanah. Surely he was quite aware of the grief of carrying an empty womb as he said to her, “Don’t I mean more to you that ten sons?” Oh! I am sure that this question was one of bitter sweetness. I can feel the torn heart Hannah must have felt at that moment—bitter that she had never suckled a child at her breast, bitter at the pure emptiness of being barren. On the other hand, sweetness, in that her husband had wanted her to adore only him, to see him as fulfilling her needs, and in the deep love the two of them shared. Hannah remained steadfast through her trials, but things came to a head during one particular time while they were in Shiloh. It was there that Hannah let the dam burst and the river began to flow. Eli, a priest at the temple door, saw Hannah weeping bitterly and praying out to the Lord. At this point she made a vow saying, “O, Lord Almighty, if You will only look upon 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. As she prayed silently only moving her lips, Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine!” Hannah replied that she was not drunk, but a woman of a sorrowful spirit. I believe that dear Hannah was consumed before the pouring out of her spirit that day, and that it was in the very act of “pouring out” and fully emptying, that Hannah found relief. Eli answered and told her to go in peace and blessed her petition. It was then that Hannah left with a renewed joy in her heart. She was able to eat and had a smile upon her face. It was the act of “giving it” to the Lord that brought renewal.
The next morning they rose early and worshipped the Lord and returned to their house in Ramah and the Bible says that, “Elkanah knew his wife”. I love the use of the word “knew” here, as it shows the beauty of the intimacy that they shared together. Imagine the release that Hannah could now have in her marriage bed with her precious husband without the joy stealing the worry of not bearing a child. The influence of worry no longer overshadowed the love she shared with him. She had given it to the Lord and placed it in His will in fully capable hands.
In due time the Lord blessed Hannah with a son and she named him Samuel. Samuel’s name means, most fittingly, “For this child I prayed.” The time had come once again that Elkanah took his whole house to offer his yearly sacrifice and his vow. Hannah stayed behind, for she said unto her husband, “I will not go up until the child is weaned and then I will bring him that he may appear before the Lord and remain there forever.” Elkanah told her to do what she thought was right and keep Samuel until he was weaned. So Hannah continued suckling her babe until the time came. Hannah kept her promise to the Lord and gave Samuel back as a sacrifice of her obedience. Hannah took Samuel to the house of the Lord in Shiloh and the Word says that Samuel grew and worshipped the Lord there.
In Samuel, Chapter 2 you can read Hannah’s beautiful prayer of praise. Hannah is a lovely woman of influence. In her we see a determined woman who believed in a God that was bigger than a barren womb. She was a woman who knew to pour and empty herself out to the Lord and to leave burdens with him. She knew where to go and where to find peace. She was a woman who gave of her first fruits—the child of her womb.
Can we not learn from Hannah’s example? Most of us have given sacrificially for our children at one point or another. It does not matter whether our sacrifice is big or small, our God sees. He is still a God that answers prayers and will bless that sacrifice. He will use those sacrifices to influence others as we live out our lives in front of others. Are you a woman of sacrifice? Are you a woman of influence?
Taken from "The Heartbeat of the Remnant"