by Molly Audiss

Read: I Samuel, chapters 1-3

My oldest son graduated from high school last year. Throughout his senior year, a heaviness came on me that completely surprised me! I don’t mean to say that I was depressed or even unhappy, yet a “shadow” settled on me that was not unlike that of grief. Looking back now, I see that it had a lot to do with fear of the unknown.
My husband and I have 3 sons, ranging in ages from 19-13. Like most parents, we have put everything we have into raising them. We have so many sweet memories made together (and the pictures to prove it😂 ). My husband coached each of our boys’ T-ball teams. We’ve sat in the stands at countless sporting events and music performances, cheering on our sons. We’ve taken loads of camping trips and family vacations. We’ve sat with our sons in church each week their entire lives. I love being a mom, and I had no idea what it would look like to have an adult child. It scared me and made me sad. Everything last year was “the last time” for my boy, in my mind. The week coming up to graduation, I admit that I cried many tears into my pillow. Thankfully, I never cried in front of my son (awkward!), but I was on the verge of tears many times those last few weeks. I had not expected how hard graduation would “hit me.”

As soon as graduation weekend actually happened, the heavy feeling was gone. Life went on, and I adjusted to a new phase. It’s been very enjoyable (mostly) watching our child take on adulthood, so far. Now I reach out to moms who have seniors graduating, and I encourage them, letting them know that I remember how tough it is for a mother’s heart. It’s good to take anything in life you go through, and turn around and help others as they go through the same thing.

Hannah in the Bible, mother of the prophet Samuel, was an amazing Mom! I have so much admiration for her. She is an excellent example of trusting God with your child. What is most amazing to me, is that Hannah did not let go of her son at the age of 18; she had to let go of him when he was very young; and she did it with complete confidence in the Lord.

Hannah experienced the horrible pain that many women today must endure-she could not have children. Some of you will understand how devastating this is. Just yesterday I was told about a woman who cried every month for 14 years as she realized, again, that she was not pregnant. How painful! At that time, families travelled once a year to come to the temple and give sacrifices. This was like a family reunion time, a time of food and fellowship and fun. Hannah could not join in on the fun. She was so upset about her barren womb, that she could not eat. All she could do was cry. I have felt pain that deep, have you?

She went into the temple to pray. She was praying so fervently, it appeared to the priest, Eli, that she was drunk. He actually called her out for her poor behavior! Wow! Talk about adding insult to injury. I think I would have lashed out verbally in anger, but not Hannah. She was humble and simply explained her situation. This is something that I want to show about Hannah’s character. Though she was praying for her own personal request to have a child, Hannah was not proud and self-centered. Put this into a modern-day scenario. If a pastor, whom you’ve never met, meets you at your darkest day and, instead of being “pastoral” and encouraging you, he completely misunderstands your heart and publicly scolds you-how would you react? I am afraid I might become bitter against that man. He may go on my “blacklist,” never to be removed! This is a common reaction that people have when they are not treated well. Eli was in the wrong, and the Bible does not record him apologizing. But Hannah was focused on the Lord, not on what others think. She was a beautiful example of Christianity.
When Eli walked up to Hannah in the temple, she had JUST made a vow to the Lord that, if He gave her a son, she would give him back to God (literally-send him to grow up in the temple). It is not a coincidence that, immediately after she made a decision for God, she got tested. Has that ever happened to you? You made a serious decision to change something in your life, for God’s glory, and within minutes, hours, or days, your decision is tested!

Eli was God’s anointed high priest, but he was not a great father. He had no influence over his own 2 boys. They had not turned out well; they acted wickedly. His boys lived as hypocrites in the service for God, making the ministry look bad. They did not obey their father’s advice. Think about it. Hannah willingly brought her only child to live under the influence of a man whose children did not serve God. The same man who had misunderstood her and possibly embarrassed her in front of others. She only saw her child once a year. The rest of the time he lived with and was influenced solely by Eli. She couldn’t text or FaceTime or Skype with her son. She entrusted the rearing of her boy to a man that did not do a great job with his own sons. Her decision. The Bible tells us that her husband did not have a strong opinion either way. She could decided what she wanted about her boys’ education. She chose to honor her vow. That is what amazes me about this woman’s faith. She was not relying on men; she trusted God alone with her child.

There is nothing like child-rearing to reveal to us how strong or weak our faith in God is! The older my children get, the more I want to control every aspect of their environment. In fact, if I had my way, they would be kept in a perfect little “box” with only Godly influences. They would be surrounded by nothing but good Christians at school, at their jobs, everywhere. But reality tells me that they will not have the opportunity to grow strong in the Lord if they do not have to stand for what they believe at times, when they are the only Christian in the room. They must choose on their own to do right. It’s scary for a mom! But necessary. I faced this last summer as my husband and I talked about what we would and would not do or say to our son any longer, after he graduated. We had to give him to the Lord. We had to let go in some areas and let him decide for himself how he would live. We pray that our children make right choices, but we give them to God.

I have prayed many a time with my hands open, palms up, telling the Lord that I am giving my child to Him. He is a good Father. He loves them even more than I do. He knows their thoughts and their heart. I do not. He is able to “parent” my child better than I can. Hannah knew this. She did not worry about things out of her control. She gave her child completely into the care of the Lord. What happened? Did a mediocre father ruin her son? Did poor influences, Eli’s boys, influence her child away from God? No! Samuel grew strong in the Lord! The entire country knew that He was a man of God! He is one of the few Bible character in which nothing negative is recorded about his character or his actions, his entire life!

We can trust God, Mama. I understand, it’s hard to let go. Sometimes we have to stand by and watch our children make poor choices. Sometimes we want to rush back in and control everything. But that is not God’s plan. He is their Father. He knows what He is doing. We can trust Him and give our children into His care. He is trust-worthy!