Movers and Shakers
Our influence in other people's lives is either positive or negative, for the good or for the worse. Maybe you can think of the people who have had a good impact on you--perhaps a teacher or a grandparent, a parent or a good friend. But think about it in terms of your life: What kind of footprints or impressions are you leaving in your family, church, and community?
Today I want to look at the story of a woman named Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel. There's an old proverb that says one generation plants the tree and another gets the shade, and what wonderful shade Hannah provided for Samuel! She was a woman with a problem, but she was also a woman with priorities.
Hannah's problem was that she was barren (see 1 Samuel 1:1-7). Childlessness in biblical times was a terrible stigma; most women believed it was a curse from God. It wasn't--and isn't--but when Elkanah married Hannah and no children came, he went ahead and married a woman named Peninnah. This was against God's original design for marriage in Genesis 2, and we see the sad results of it: "[Peninnah] also provoked [Hannah] severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat" (vv. 6-7). What Hannah wanted more than anything else was a family.
But look at the second part of Hannah's story: she was a woman with priorities. First of all, she was rightly related to God. She was devoted to the regular attendance of the Feast of Tabernacles in Shiloh. Not only that, but when she was down and out, her first instinct was to pray: "Then she made a vow and said, 'O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head'" (v. 11).
She poured out her soul before the Lord. And what's great is that her prayer was effective, because she aligned herself with what God wanted. God shut her womb, and that drove her to pray, "If You give me a child, he's Yours!" That was exactly what God wanted--to raise up a prophet. And He did so when He blessed Hannah with Samuel (see vv. 19-20).
Hannah was also rightly related to her husband. She and Elkanah had a good relationship. Her worth to him was not based on her ability to produce children (see v. 5), and he treated her with kindness and tenderness (see v. 8). Happy is the marriage where a man and a woman do everything they can to build up, not tear down, their love.
Samuel had a great heritage, didn't he? A praying, godly mother rightly related to God will do more good in the world than all the congressmen and senators put together. My encouragement to you, whether or not you have kids, is to plant the tree that provides shade to the next generation. I pray that whatever problems we may face, our priorities would be a right relationship with God, passionately devoted, demonstrated by consistency in our worship activity, depth of prayer life and praise, and then, if we're married, that pillar of being rightly devoted to our spouses. I pray that we would become people of influence--movers and shakers in our churches, our communities, and our nation.
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