“For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted my petition made to Him. Therefore I have given him to the Lord, as long as he lives he is given to the Lord.” -1 Samuel 1:28
These are Hannah’s words as she brings her young son, Samuel, to Eli the priest and leaves him there to be raised in the temple.
Hannah knew the anguish of being a barren Jewish woman. She wanted nothing more than a son. She poured out her soul to the Lord and he gave her a son. She named him Samuel meaning, “heard of God.” He was her delight, her gift.
And after he was weaned, in obedience to God, she took him and released him to God.
As a mother of three, I have learned the greatest gift a mother can give to a child is to entrust them to the Lord. God has a path for every child, and part of our role as mothers is to empower them to follow it. The question becomes whether we will have the faith to do so.
I always prayed for my children. From the point of conception and through each stage, I would dedicate them to God. But the first time I remember really being confronted with “releasing one to the Lord” was when my oldest, at 15 years old, was asked to travel to Kenya on a construction mission trip.
The team consisted of my son, two other teens and one adult. They would be camping in the jungles and out alone in villages. I had to entrust him to God’s plan. He wouldn’t be in my care, let alone on my side of the world.
I knew he should go but it was so hard to let him go. How could I have known that the trip would be life-changing for him and even would define his life career and calling to combine construction and ministry? His faith became more his own as he adopted a verse for the trip, Joshua 1: 9, which would stay with him in every stage of his life.
I didn’t know. But God did.
With each of my children, my husband and I dreamed and tried to imagine what they would do with their lives. With each child, there have been specific times of letting them go to be on mission around the world, to set educational goals, to choose life mates, to become church planters, to listen to how God is directing their lives and not me and it isn’t always easy, especially when it takes them away from me or in a direction unfamiliar to my experience.
As I look now at each of my adult children, I can see how trusting God with them helped them become Christ followers who have a well-defined relationship with him. They’ve turned into children who teach this mom so much about what it is to trust him.
So how could Hannah have the faith to trust God with Samuel? How can any parent?
- Hannah knew God and knew his character. When we read her prayers in the first two chapters of 1 Samuel, we hear her heart. She knows him as Lord, as God Almighty, as the giver of all gifts. She worships him, knowing who he is and who she is in his presence.
- Hannah seeks God honestly and humbly in prayer. Her prayers are fervent; nothing is left unsaid. She describes her prayer as pouring out her soul in grief and great anguish. And when she is finished praying, she leaves in peace.
- Hannah demonstrates her faith through obedience, even when it means an extreme personal sacrifice. She has longed for this child, and she loves him as only a mother can love a child. But her love for God is greater and she shows it by letting go of Samuel.
- Hannah trusts God and that his plan for Samuel is better than her way or her plan. She may not understand it but she trusted it. Through her life she had learned to wait on the Lord and trust in his sovereignty.
- Hannah praises God in all circumstances. The 2nd chapter is her prayer right after leaving her son. How must she have felt on that trip back home without him? And yet, we hear her say, “My heart exults and triumphs in the Lord; my strength is lifted up in the Lord ... There is none holy like the Lord, there is none besides You; there is no rock like our God.”
When Hannah took her 3-year-old son to the temple to entrust him to God, she could have never known God’s plan for Samuel. The Scripture says, “The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and let none of his words fall to the ground ... And Samuel’s word came to all Israel” (1 Samuel 3:19).
God uses Samuel to change a nation – a nation! Samuel has a great faith and is an obedient servant. He first saw faith lived out through his mother as she taught him not only through her words but more importantly, through her obedient action of letting him go.
Jane Ann Crowson is the director of the Buckner Family Hope Center in Longview, Texas.