[Hannah] was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, ‘O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.’…and the Lord remembered her. And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, ‘I have asked for him from the Lord.’…And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. And the child was young. Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli…I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” (1 Samuel 1:10-11, 19-20, 24-25, 28)
My infertility is unproven but likely since I have a rare genetic condition. In comparison to Hannah, I have never felt strongly about motherhood, but have always been impassioned about the education of children and their teachers. Infertility is not a burden for me, but a confirmation of my calling as a single woman. My stewardship of barrenness looks completely different from Hannah’s. I have considered my singleness as a gift to serve the Lord wholeheartedly in the church and the body, without distraction. Hannah’s infertility was a hindrance to her calling, so it was appropriate that she would seek the Lord’s mercy to open her womb.
We are all stewards of our medical conditions and our physical well-being. Hannah was a steward of her infertility. Hannah’s handling of her infertility was an aspect of her calling as a mother, and her passionate desire to fulfill that role. As a good steward she prayed fervently for a child. The Lord confirmed his calling for her as a mother, and gave her a son, followed by other children. Hannah continued in her motherly stewardship to “loan” her firstborn son, Samuel, to God for all of his life. Hannah had no intention of taking Samuel back to her home, away from the Lord’s service (Although the ESV and other Bible translations use the word “lent,”). Many churches today dedicate babies to indicate the parents’ and congregations covenantal desire for the child to serve the Lord. Hannah’s appeal to God for a son and her song of praise and thanksgiving prove that she knew that Samuel belonged to God from before the foundation of the world and would always be His. (1 Samuel 2:1-10) We are God’s works, created by him, and belong to him, from eternity to eternity. “Thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.’” (Isaiah 43:1-2)
Hannah was a faithful steward of God’s tangible gifts (her child) and intangible ones (her suffering from barrenness and her calling as God’s woman and mother). She points to our responsibility to wisely handle both God’s material and immaterial gifts and resources in our lives, including our suffering, our children, and our roles in family and in the church.
How’s your stewardship?