Monday, October 4, 2010

Mental Vitamins: Twelve Extraordinary Women Series - Hannah

Last week I took a short break from the Twelve Extraordinary Women Series but I wanted to get right back to it. This week's focus is on Hannah.

 photo credit: Elspeth Young

Hannah's personal story makes her one of my favourite women of the Bible. The study of her life reveals the classic portrait of a godly mother. Yet, Hannah almost never became a mother. Like Sarah, she was childless and distraught over it. But Hannah exhibited tremendous faith and perseverance. Before her son, Samuel, was even born she prayed to God and promised that if He gave her a son she would dedicate him to the Lord. This was not an empty promise made in a moment of desperation - Samuel would begin serving in the tabernacle when he was just a toddler. Hannah knew that God had given her this son and she wanted to give back to God for His blessing by dedicating her son's life to serving the Lord. The value of persistent and passionate prayer is one of the central lessons from Hannah's life.

"Hannah stood out as a ray of light. Not only was she the quintessential godly mother and wife, but in a spiritually cold generation she exemplified patience, prayerfulness, faith, meekness, submission, spiritual devotion and motherly love."

MacArthur's description of Hannah is something I think all Christian women should strive to be. In fact, my main interest in this book in the first place was because I wanted to discover godly female role models. Contrary to social standards...I do not wish to be like famous Hollywood icons or other influential individuals in mainstream media. I want to be an example of what Christ sees as true beauty and grace and dignity. The Bible was given to us not as a book of rules to keep us from enjoying life but more as a study guide for how to enjoy God's love and our life here on earth to the fullest! The more we seek Him out and learn from His Word, the more we have a clear understanding of our purpose and our future. That is the reason I chose this book...I mean if God Himself mentioned these women in the Bible, then they truly must have been extraordinary and that's the kind of life I hope to live - one that honors God.

We currently live in a spiritually cold generation just like in the days of Hannah and I think that it is our calling as young women and mothers to stand out as a light against the darkness. To show the world what God's love and grace looks like and practice living our lives in a way that honors Him - not necessarily living a life that is pleasing to the world. We need to teach our children to have love, faith and hope centered around God - not people, and things.

MacArthur does an excellent job of covering all basis. He briefly talks about how some women are called to remain single and that motherhood is not the only proper role for women.  A woman does not need to be a wife or a mother before she can be deemed useful in the Lord's service. I think this is important to highlight because there are many women who cannot have children or who will never marry but can still serve a wonderful purpose. There are examples of women in the Bible who were never a wife or mother and God used them mightily apart from marriage and motherhood. (Miriam and Deborah) This should be an encouragement to any woman who may be feeling distraught by not being able to fill the role as wife or mother. We were all meant for great things, and each of us have different callings. That doesn't make any of us more or less important or special.

Honor and eminence for women in the Bible was nearly always closely associated with home and family. Hannah understood that, and she earnestly desired to enter into the noble role of a mother.

Of course, the Bible's exaltation of motherhood is often disregarded by our more "enlightened" age. In fact, in this generation, motherhood is frequently mocked and belittled in the name of "women's rights." Instead of viewing motherhood and family as an honor and a blessing, society views it as optional and often as a burden. Abortion has made it possible for women to be denied motherhood and children to be denied life. It has tainted the beauty of family. But MacArthur points out that it has been God's plan from the beginning that women should train and nurture godly children and thus leave a powerful imprint on society through the home. Hannah is a classic illustration of how that works.

I am not a mother....yet. But I desire to be one someday. Not just because I love children, but because I want to create a family who lives for and loves the Lord, just as Hannah prayed for. As I look around me, I can't help but notice the consequences of not having a culture who values a Christ-centered family. My husband and I are not perfect and don't expect to raise perfect children - I mean Adam and Eve couldn't even raise perfect children and they were at one time...actually perfect (that is before sin entered the world) - but we both have a heart for God and hope that our children one day see that and choose to live for Christ too.

I never dreamed I would be getting so much out of this book but I am really enjoying building my relationship with God through this sort of biblical interaction. I believe that personal reflection in accordance with spiritual meditation is the key to positive growth. I hope that you are also enjoying your own personal journey with God.

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