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6th Sunday of Easter- Mother’s Day

To Him who loved us and has freed us from our sins with His own blood, to Him be glory and power now and forever!  In the name of Jesus, who gave motherhood the ultimate compliment by being born of Mary and giving obedience to her, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, there’s something uniquely special about the relationship between a mother and her child.  I mean, I love my dad.  I was blessed to have a dad who cared for me, encouraged me, supported me, protected me, who loved and still loves my mom, who corrected me when I was wrong and disciplined me appropriately.  I really love my dad…but he’s not my mom!  When I was hurting or sad about something, I went to…mom.  If I was down or sick… you better believe I wanted mom.

The close relationship between a mother and her child is one that resonates across time and across cultures.  It’s even a relationship pictured in the animal kingdom.  Everyone knows you don’t want to get between a mama bear and her cubs.  Often baby animals in their first stages of life will stay very near their mothers.  I just heard about a story this past week – I think it was an email forward- about some forest rangers who were walking through a forest after a fire had passed through.  One of the rangers noticed a bird completely petrified by ash sitting on the ground with its wings outspread.  He grabbed a stick and poked it and lo and behold out from underneath this bird scrambled some small chicks alive and well.  The bird had given up its life for her children.

And perhaps it’s because this relationship is so close between a mother and child that it’s repulsive for us to hear stories about mothers utterly failing to love their children, abusing them, mistreating them, etc.  The sad fact is that not everyone has or had a good mother.  A number of years ago in SE Wisconsin where I used to live a young couple had a baby they didn’t want so they had the baby left in a tank of a porta-potty!  (By God’s grace the child was found as is as far as I know alive today).  It sickens us and we shutter because it shows us how awfully sinful we human beings are!  Sin has so thoroughly corrupted every aspect of our lives that it’s even messed up the close and solid relationship between a mother and her child/ren.

But today in our text God gives us an example of a good mother, a godly mother, Hannah.  The time of our text is about 1000 BC.  It’s during the time when the nation of Israel was ruled by these people called judges.  This time period was not very good.  The best description for this time period is one that God Himself gives: “Everyone did as he saw fit” (Judges 21:25).  This is even seen in the family of a God-fearing believer, named Elkanah, who had two wives.  This was not something God had intended at all from the very beginning and caused no end of trouble and bitterness and competition in this family.  Hannah was one of the wives and she had a problem, she didn’t have any children.

So the first thing we notice is that in trust and faith this God-fearing lady took her problem to the only One who could do something about it, in prayer she laid her heart open before the Lord.  The prayer that she prayed was actually a very unselfish prayer.  True, she prayed that the Lord would grant her a child.  However, she also promised to give her son to the Lord should he grant her request.  So in essence she prayed that the Lord would use her in order to have another person to minister in His house.

What and awesome gift God gives parents, mothers, children in prayer!  Life is not all that easy as a Christian mother- children rebel, purposely don’t listen, conveniently forget and there are many things to be concerned about.  But God invites us to take all things on our hearts to Him.  God says that the prayer of a righteous person, the prayer of a believer, is powerful and effective.  God invites us to lay before His throne all that is on our hearts and all that troubles us and weighs us down.  And as we pray, “According to Your will, not mine,” God chooses to use and work through our prayers in His governing of the world.  When Hannah left after praying to God she left with joy in her heart…even though God had not yet given her what she requested.  But her burden is now no longer hers, she left it in God’s hands and trusted that God’s answer- no matter what that may be- will be best, there’s no need to worry or be troubled.

And God answered Hannah’s prayer by giving her what she requested, a son.  Can you imagine her joy and delight!  She knew God was faithful and would answer her request in the way that was best for her.  God opened her womb and blessed her with a son whom she called “Samuel.”  The word Samuel in Hebrew sounds like “God hears.”  God definitely heard her prayer- Samuel would be a constant reminder of that.  So she kept Samuel close to her for the first several years of his life while she weaned him.

Now imagine the temptations Hannah may have faced during those years!  “Why do you have to follow that vow anyway, everyone would understand if you didn’t.”  “Samuel will spend his whole life in God’s house, there’s no need to take the time to train him now, instead, enjoy the time you have with him before he’s gone.”  In spite of temptations to do the opposite Hannah was faithful to her word and taught Samuel God’s ways.  And notice what an influence this God-fearing mother had on him!  Even at such a young age when she brought him to the Lord’s house in Shiloh he worshipped the Lord there.  And notice also that we are told how Samuel was uncorrupted by the evil influences of Eli’s sons who were very wicked in God’s eyes.  Samuel served faithfully.  The influence of his mother in the very early stages of his life had a profound impact on the rest of his life.  Let’s not pass by this lightly.  God has set things up in such a way that mothers do have an incredible influence on their children even at very young ages.

And notice what was most important for Hannah. She had hoped and prayed for a child.  Now this child must have meant everything to her!  And she gave him up!  How could she do that?  How could she bear to give up her own child and miss out on watching him grow up?  Miss out on caring for him and talking to him and teaching him about life?  How could she do that?  Could you have done that?  Would you have done that?  How difficult it is for us to give up anything we want, let alone our prized possession!  We’re so often unwilling to even give up some of our precious time to spend with our families, unwilling spend a little more patience with our children, unwilling to give our moms the love and respect and honor as our mothers even when they might not deserve it.  How difficult it is for moms to be the moms God wants them to be, how difficult it is for children to be the children God wants them to be!  What are we willing to do for the Lord?  What are we willing to give up for the Lord?

Hannah gave up her son; she had promised God she would.  Now it was time to give up her son to the Lord.  She put first things first.  Her Lord meant more to her than anything else in life.  Her joy in life, her strength, her reason for living day to day was not found in her son, but in the Lord who loved her.  And that’s exactly it.  It was God’s love for her that moved Hannah to pray in the first place, to serve, to instruct her son, and to give her child back to the Lord.

The same love of God that Hannah treasured is the love that motivates us.  It is the love of God who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all.  It is the love of God who has lavished His love on us and made us His children.  It is the love of God who has bought us not with gold or silver but with His own Son’s precious blood.  It is the love of God who raised Jesus from the dead as living proof that our sins are forgiven, that we too will rise from the dead, and that we will live eternally in the heavenly home of God our Father!

It’s this amazing love of God that motivates us to love each other.  It’s this love of God that helps moms get through long days and short nights, the tears and the heartaches, the frustrations and exhaustion.  It’s this love of God that reminds mothers who their children are: souls for whom Jesus died.  It’s this love of God that also reminds mothers who they are: souls for whom Jesus died.  It’s this love of God that made a total difference in Hannah’s life.  She knew God’s love; she knew that God’s love would one day send a Savior for her.  It’s this love of God that motivated Hannah to focus her son on the spiritual and eternal things, on this very love of God.

And mothers have an awesome privilege to do just that with their children.  In fact, it is the ultimate work of mothers (and fathers!) to lead their children to their Savior.  Parents have the privilege to use the time they have with their children to tell them about their Savior.  And God gives parents the honor of never giving up on their children, never writing them off –even through rebellious years- but to pray for them, encourage them, and seek always to lead them to their Savior.  Think about it, God could have brought people into this world in any way He wanted to- to grow off trees or sprout up from the ground- but He chose to bring them into this world in a family, with a dad and a mom.  Why?  So that mom (and dad!) could share with them what’s most important in life, share the love of Jesus to them in their words and attitudes and actions and example.  God chooses to use mothers to convey the most important truth in all of eternity to their children, to lead them to the dear love of God and to their Savior.  What could be more important in life than that?  Mothers have the incredible opportunity given by God to lead their children to Jesus!

So may the Lord richly bless all of you mothers!  You are dearly loved by Your Lord and Savior!  And you get the awesome chance to tell your children that they are too!  Indeed, God does bless families through mothers!  Amen.