Mom’s love can turn finger painting into a fine work of art

Pastor Jeff Struecker

Today, our goal is to understand more about our Father’s heart in heaven by looking a little bit at the heart of moms. I’ll be honest with you when I was teaching children in church, sometimes they bring a painting to me, like a little coloring sheet that they colored on, and I get nervous every time that happens because this feels like a setup to me. Like I’m supposed to know what’s on that page, and I’m like, “Look at this dog you made.” And they say, “That’s not a dog. It’s a truck.” 

Every time they come up there, I get this slight nervous twitch because I’m trying to affirm their artwork. But let’s just be honest, it’s finger painting; that’s not a masterpiece. And this is a vivid example of the difference between me and a mother’s heart because I have seen this countless times where a child will bring a little finger painting, and she will treat this thing like he just created the world’s greatest work of art, right? And it ends up on the refrigerator door. 

I’m trying to say that only a mother could have that kind of passion. The type of love that would make a finger painting feel like it’s supposed to be a masterpiece. That’s something that only mom can do. Today, we will probably look at the second greatest mom that ever lived. 

Look, God trusted his son, Jesus, with a mother in heaven. And I must say Mary has got to be the most incredible mother who ever walked on earth because God recognized in this young girl something that he could trust enough to allow her to become the one who would help raise his son. But there’s a mother in the old testament that blows me away, and we’re going to take a look at Hannah from the book of first Samuel. 

In 1 Samuel 1, we will look at Hannah, an incredible mother. She leaves such an impact in a very short period that she impacts not only her son, but I am convinced she moved the nation and your faith is probably different because of this mother. 

Mom can make such a difference that when somebody wins the championship, receives the MVP trophy, and stands up at the awards ceremonies. They will inevitably point back to mama, saying, thank you, mama. That’s how much of an impact a mother leaves in her life. 

Mom’s love can turn finger painting into a fine work of art

There are four challenges that I hope you’re going to see. And the reason why I selected this passage today is that there are two types of people that may be hurting badly on Mother’s Day, and I want to speak directly to those two types of people. 

Mom is passionate

So the first thing that I want you to see about Hannah as we look at 1 Samuel chapter one is how passionate she is to be a mother and how painful this is for her when she’s unable to conceive first. 

Samuel chapter one, starting in verse one, describes Samuel’s mother. There was a man from Ramathaim-zophim in the hill country of Ephraim. His name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives, the first named Hannah and the second Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah was childless. This man would go up from his town every year to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of Armies at Shiloh, where Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were the Lord’s priests. 

This was before the temple was built. This was before there was a building. There’s a tent in the desert, a desert place called Shiloh, and that tent has the ark of the covenant, Eli is the high priest, and Eli has two sons. And every year, Elkana and his whole family will go to that tent in the desert to worship God there. Whenever Elkanah offered a sacrifice, he always gave portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to each of her sons and daughters. But he gave a double portion to Hannah, for he loved her even though the Lord had kept her from conceiving. 

1 Samuel 1: 1-8

There was a man from Ramathaim-zophim in the hill country of Ephraim. His name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives, the first named Hannah and the second Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah was childless. This man would go up from his town every year to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of Armies at Shiloh, where Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were the Lord’s priests. Whenever Elkanah offered a sacrifice, he always gave portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to each of her sons and daughters. But he gave a double portion to Hannah, for he loved her even though the Lord had kept her from conceiving. Her rival would taunt her severely just to provoke her, because the Lord had kept Hannah from conceiving. Year after year, when she went up to the Lord’s house, her rival taunted her in this way. Hannah would weep and would not eat. “Hannah, why are you crying?” her husband, Elkanah, would ask. “Why won’t you eat? Why are you troubled? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”

Hannah can’t have babies, and the Bible tells us exactly why Hannah is not having babies, for the Lord had kept her from conceiving. Her rival would taunt her severely just to provoke her, because the Lord had kept Hannah from conceiving. Year after year, when she went up to the Lord’s house, her rival taunted her in this way. Hannah would weep and would not eat. “Hannah, why are you crying?” her husband, Elkanah, would ask. “Why won’t you eat? Why are you troubled? Am I not better to you than ten sons?” 

Can you see the pain that this mother is going through? Back in bible times, sometimes a man would have more than one wife, polygamy. The Bible disapproves of polygamy, but in Bible days if a man married and the woman couldn’t conceive, often, he would go and take a second wife. Think about Abraham, Sarah, and Sarah’s concubine, Hagar. 

This second wife would deliver Children and carry on the family name and inherit the family land. In Bible times, it was the ultimate sign of disgrace. It was extremely shameful to be a woman who’s married and unable to conceive. Hannah is already hurting because she’s married. The Bible calls her Elkanah’s first wife. That may mean that he married her first and that the second wife came later. But it means she is first in Elkanah’s heart and first in order of importance. 

Elkanah loves his wife. She’s hurting, and he’s trying to comfort her, and he’s hurting because she’s hurting. She is passionate about having children, and she’s not in a position where she can have children right now. For several ladies, you know exactly what this is like. They spent years married and wanting to start a family but could not conceive. They were broken for those years. 

Part of the reason I wanted us to look at 1 Samuel chapter one today is to speak directly to those ladies on Mother’s day because for ladies who want to have children but can’t, Mother’s day really hurts so bad. It hurts Hannah because when she went up to the temple, she was reminded by her rival that she was unable to conceive, and it was like stabbing her with a knife and digging it in and making her feel bad because she was being taunted. 


Mom prays

For those ladies who are married and want to have a baby but can’t, this day hurts real bad; what I want you to know is that other people can come alongside you, to love you, support you, and try to help you, but I also want you to know, a husband and wife can come together, but only God can create a living soul. And the Bible tells us that Hannah can’t have a child because God has prevented her from having a baby. 

She’s passionate about being a mother, and unfortunately, she’s not able to have children, and this woman does what any Christian woman would do. She pours her soul out to God when she prays, and maybe one of the most powerful spiritual forces on earth is a mother that pleads from the depths of her soul with the holy God for her children because that kind of prayer is what you see from Hannah. 

Look at Hannah’s prayer as this mom prays for her son before conceiving. On one occasion, Hannah got up after they ate and drank at Shiloh. The priest Eli was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s temple. This is that tent in the desert and he’s sitting at the entrance. Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the Lord and wept with many tears. Making a vow, she pleaded, “Lord of Armies, if you will take notice of your servant’s affliction, look, she’s saying, this hurts so much that I am deeply wounded. That’s what that word affliction is. If you will look at my wounds God and then look at what she says next, remember and not forget me, and give your servant a son, I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and his hair will never be cut.”  

Look at how she’s praying right now because the Bible is vivid with this language. While she continued praying in the Lord’s presence, Eli watched her mouth. Hannah was praying silently, and though her lips were moving, her voice could not be heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to be drunk? Get rid of your wine!” “No, my lord,” Hannah replied. “I am a woman with a broken heart. I haven’t had any wine or beer; I’ve been pouring out my heart before the Lord. Don’t think of me as a wicked woman; I’ve been praying from the depth of my anguish and resentment.” 

I’m hurting, and I need God to know that I’m hurting. She is begging God to stand up and take notice. Eli would have expected to be at the doorpost where people come in, and people leave. Because he’s at the doorpost, he can see this woman making gestures, and her mouth is moving, but nothing is coming out; he just assumes she’s drunk because of how she’s acting, but this is a powerful prayer. 

Can I remind you that your fancy prayers don’t impress God? Your vocabulary does not impress or honor God. This is the kind of prayer that impresses God because it comes from the deepest recesses of your soul. It’s this powerful prayer because it’s this kind of prayer where you have nothing left. You’re opening yourself up totally and being utterly vulnerable to him. You’re sincere and telling him what he already knows. 

I’ve been all over the world. I’ve been to the corners of the earth. I have seen parents in the most difficult circumstances trying to raise children on dirt floors, and I’ve seen parents in very powerful and wealthy families in some of the most modern cities on earth. Every parent I have ever met shares the same hope. They all share the same goal for their children. They want their children to have a better future than they had. This kind of prayer comes from a parent, a mom, or a dad who recognizes that I’m supposed to raise a son or daughter to be pure and godly. But everywhere I look, this world is wracked with evil and temptation. How on earth will I be able to raise a pure son or a godly daughter in an evil age like this? 

1 Samuel 1: 9-16

On one occasion, Hannah got up after they ate and drank at Shiloh. The priest Eli was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s temple. Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the Lord and wept with many tears. Making a vow, she pleaded, “Lord of Armies, if you will take notice of your servant’s affliction, remember and not forget me, and give your servant a son, I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and his hair will never be cut.” While she continued praying in the Lord’s presence, Eli watched her mouth. Hannah was praying silently, and though her lips were moving, her voice could not be heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to be drunk? Get rid of your wine!” “No, my lord,” Hannah replied. “I am a woman with a broken heart. I haven’t had any wine or beer; I’ve been pouring out my heart before the Lord. Don’t think of me as a wicked woman; I’ve been praying from the depth of my anguish and resentment.”

Can I remind you that every generation has been done because of the universal brokenness of sin? There’s been temptation and evil all around. But it feels like this generation has more readily available temptation than perhaps ever before. Any parent like Hannah would be wise to beg God for your children and their future, and I want to warn you about how the human condition is going. Chances are, for the next generation, it will be worse for them than it was for this generation, and the generation that comes after that will probably be worse. 

Look, when this mother prayed, God stood up, and here’s that prayer, and the reason He hears. That prayer has no fancy words and impressive vocabulary. This is the kind of snot coming out of your nose, chest heaving, pouring it all out to God. God, nothing left, I’m physically exhausted at the end of this prayer because God, if you don’t hear from heaven, if you don’t intervene, I am hopeless. 

I am convinced that this is the kind of prayer that God stands up and notices. This is the kind of prayer that God says; now I can work because we’re now being that honest with each other, and when this mama prays, God hears. 

Now, it is no promise that if you’re childless and you pray like how Hannah prayed that you’re going to get the results that Hannah got, that’s not what the Bible is saying. But I want to challenge all of us, don’t pray those fancy words prayers. It’s this raw, honest, pouring-it-all-out prayer that God hears and moves God’s heart. 

We usually give away a gift to mothers on Mother’s Day. We typically give away our carnation. We chose not to give away that gift today but to give something different instead. It’s not because we’re trying to save money. We wanted to do something for the moms tuned in from around the country and around the world. So we’re giving you a free book called the confessions by St. Augustine. I have read this book more often than any other book on earth except the Bible. I keep going back and back again and again to this book. This book was written almost 1800 years ago, and it’s still around today, which tells you a little bit about what’s in it. The real reason why I wanted you to read that book is because of his mama, this woman who prayed and labored before God for decades for her son. He realized it, and it was Monica, his mother’s prayers that God heard, and God reached this wicked Roman citizen by the name of Augustine and turned him into the greatest voice for Christianity in 1000 years. If you have not read this book before, focus not on Augustine but on Monica, his mama, because that’s the kind of prayer that you see Hannah praying before God ever delivers a son to her who will touch the world. 

See, Hannah is present in pain. She’s praying for her family, and she’s struggling, and I want you to know that you have the same temptations today that she had. You can be so focused on what’s in front of you and what’s coming next that you can miss right now with your family. Don’t make that mistake. 

Mom is present

In verse 17, Eli responded, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant the request you’ve made of him.” The chances are that Eli is acting in his official capacity as high priest, and he is making a prophecy here, that’s really what I think is going on.“May your servant find favor with you,” she replied. Then Hannah went on her way; she ate and no longer looked despondent. The next morning Elkanah and Hannah got up early to worship before the Lord. Afterward, they returned home to Ramah. Then Elkanah was intimate with his wife Hannah, and the Lord…” look at this word, remembered her. That’s the language of the Lord heard that prayer, and now he’s ready to answer it. After some time, Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, because she said, “I requested him from the Lord.” 

The name Samuel means a favor from God or a request from God. When Elkanah and all his household went up to make the annual sacrifice and his vow offering to the Lord, Hannah did not go and explained to her husband, “After the child is weaned, I’ll take him to appear in the Lord’s presence and to stay there permanently.” 

Now, I hope that this hits you like a ton of bricks what’s going on here. Because she has felt this pain and discourage by the disgrace and the shame of being taunted by her rival, the other wife, about not being able to have a child, and then finally, God reaches down from heaven and does the thing that she’s been praying for probably for years. She says I’m going to give this child back to the Lord. But before that happens, I’m going to keep him at home, and I’m going to wean him. Now we believe that it was probably three years that Hannah kept Samuel at home and when he was three years old, she went to the Tabernacle, and then presented him to the Lord, and from that point forward, Samuel no longer lived with Hannah. Samuel would live with Eli and would live in God’s presence. 

Think about how precious these moments were for Hannah and how special these moments were for any mother. Ladies, those of you who are mothers, those children in your house, they’re beautiful, and they’re precious. But they also grow, and one day they’ll be gone. I want to remind you that one of these days, they’ll move out, and the influence you have over your child is usually different after they move out. Yeah, mama or daddy will still influence them as adults. But the chances are that influence is radically different. 

1 Samuel 1: 17-22

Eli responded, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant the request you’ve made of him.” “May your servant find favor with you,” she replied. Then Hannah went on her way; she ate and no longer looked despondent. The next morning Elkanah and Hannah got up early to worship before the Lord. Afterward, they returned home to Ramah. Then Elkanah was intimate with his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. After some time, Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, because she said, “I requested him from the Lord.” When Elkanah and all his household went up to make the annual sacrifice and his vow offering to the Lord, Hannah did not go and explained to her husband, “After the child is weaned, I’ll take him to appear in the Lord’s presence and to stay there permanently.”

For decades, did you know when people are surveyed in the United State, and researchers ask them who has made the most significant impact in their life every year, year in and year out for decades? The first answer by a long shot is his parents’. Given the way that the family is in the absentee fatherhood in the United States and around the world, chances are what those people were saying is that nobody impacted me like mama. She never gave up, she never turned her back on me, and she was always there for me when I needed her.

There’s this crazy superstition, I don’t get these people, but they believe that it’s good luck for a stork to build a nest on top of their home. I’m not going to go through the birds and the bees and explain that storks don’t deliver babies. So I was trying to figure out where this ridiculous superstition comes from, and it comes from the way that stork nurtures her children. In fact, when naturalists and scientists watched the stork, they would see the exceptional care that she would take day in and day out. She never left the side of her babies, even in a forest fire. The crazy superstition comes from this because when the flames get right next to the nest, she will start flapping her wings as hard as possible. And when the researchers watch this mama will be impacted, she will be burned, but after the fire passes through, her babies will be completely unharmed, untouched by the flames. 

I also want you to know it is a mama’s influence in the home, and I’m not trying to put down the mamas who go to work. Today, there is a strong temptation to make you feel like you’re less than a good mama if you have to leave home to go to work. I’m talking about mama being there for the children when nobody else is there that leaves an impact for a lifetime.

Mom keeps her promises

Hannah does something that frankly is mind-blowing, and I want to ask you guys, ladies, if you’re in her shoes, do you do what she does next because we’re going to wrap this up today by looking at the promise she made to God and is this woman going to go through with this promise?

God says okay, Hannah, I heard you, you asked for a son, and I’ll give you a son. You can name him Samuel and look at what happens next when this mom keeps her vow. Her husband, Elkanah, replied, “Do what you think is best, and stay here until you’ve weaned him. May the Lord confirm your word.” So Hannah stayed there and nursed her son until she weaned him. When she had weaned him, she took him with her to Shiloh, as well as a three-year-old bull, this is why we think she probably spent three years with him at home before she took him to the tent and two to offer up her son back to the Lord. half a bushel of flour, and a clay jar of wine. Though the boy was still young, she took him to the Lord’s house at Shiloh. Then they slaughtered the bull and brought the boy to Eli. “Please, my lord,” she said, “as surely as you live, my Lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. I prayed for this boy, and since the Lord gave me what I asked him for, I now give the boy to the Lord. For as long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.” Then he worshiped the Lord there. Hannah prayed: My heart rejoices in the Lord; my horn is lifted up by the Lord. My mouth boasts over my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. 

Translations say, then he worshiped the Lord there, then they worship the Lord, and Hannah’s way of worshiping was by offering the ultimate sacrifice. 

I want you to think about this for a second, ladies. You prayed for a child and went through the pain of not conceiving and all of the ridicule that goes along with it. You pour your heart out, and God hears that prayer; he remembers that prayer and gives you a child. 

And you know how much joy comes from that three-year-old bouncing boy and all of the joy he brings into the house. Do you give him away? Do you take him to the Tabernacle? I know what I said, God, but things are different now because I have fallen in love with this baby, and it is amazing how fast a human being can love another human being immediately after they come out of the womb. 

1 Samuel: 23-28

Her husband, Elkanah, replied, “Do what you think is best, and stay here until you’ve weaned him. May the Lord confirm your word.” So Hannah stayed there and nursed her son until she weaned him. When she had weaned him, she took him with her to Shiloh, as well as a three-year-old bull, half a bushel of flour, and a clay jar of wine. Though the boy was still young, she took him to the Lord’s house at Shiloh. Then they slaughtered the bull and brought the boy to Eli. “Please, my lord,” she said, “as surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. I prayed for this boy, and since the Lord gave me what I asked him for, I now give the boy to the Lord. For as long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.” Then he worshiped the Lord there.

This child is probably toddler age, and she’s looking at him, and deep in her heart, she has to ask, am I going to do what I promised God? Am I going to give this boy back to him? He came from Him, but am I about to give this boy back? 

I want you to notice something about Hannah’s influence over Samuel. Do you know who wrote this book of the Bible called 1st and 2nd Samuel? Samuel wrote this book and it’s not a coincidence that before you learn anything else about Samuel, he says I need you to know about my mother and then what you’re going to read next is Samuel becomes one of the greatest prophets in the entire history of the Bible. Samuel became one of the greatest judges, the last of the great judges in the Bible, which means he led all of Israel. 

Samuel becomes a kingmaker and anoints not just one but Saul and King David to become one of the greatest kings in the Bible.

And I think you really can say that Hannah influenced Israel by how she influenced her son. She influenced the future kings of Israel. She influenced Israel when he judged Israel, she influenced him as one of the greatest prophets in the Bible, and Samuel says, if you’re going to know about me, you got to know about my mama, who made the ultimate sacrifice.