Our kids are exposed to filth. We can attempt to safeguard their phones, but it doesn't stop them from seeing indecency on prime time TV or hearing vulgarity in the halls at school.
We can be diligent in sheltering them the best we know how. We can't guarantee their physical safety, much less their moral safety...unless we hold them captive. Most of us have considered the idea. But then again, they can be a danger to themselves, and are often corrupted by...us!
How do we not lose our minds while attempting to not lose our kids to the world?
I don't know about you but I pay attention to titles. I was paying particular attention to two side by side section titles in the book of 1 Samuel in my last reading. Hannah's Prayer comes right before Eli's Wicked Sons (Of course a whole lot happens in the half page between.)
We find that Hannah's prayer was offered at a place called Shilo. She was there with her husband Elkanah and his other wife and children to offer a sacrifice at the LORD's house.
Hannah was childless. She was tormented by this fact. Add in the fact that Elkanah's other wife, Peninniah, had children and would provoke Hannah because of it. We read that Hannah was at point of being in tears. I'm sure it wasn't the first time she'd cried over a child she'd yet to hold.
During the time of sacrifice this particular year, Hannah went to the house of the LORD to pray for a child. Being distraught, she prayed an unintelligible prayer that caused the priest to believe she was drunk. After being told to put away her wine, she explained that she'd been praying. What she didn't mention was that she'd asked the LORD for a son. Neither did she speak of how she'd vowed to give such a son to the priest for the LORD's work.
Of course she became pregnant...with a son whom she named Samuel (Because I asked the LORD for him.)
She kept her promise and, after weaning him, took him to the priest. It's worth mentioning that her husband Elkanah told her to do what seemed best. (No pressure to follow through on his part.) Did she have second thoughts while packing Samuel for Shiloh, a six hour trip from Ramah, where she lived?
"I made that promise in desperation when I was the same as drunk. The priest thought I was out of my mind. Surely God knows too. How could I have known that Samuel would become my whole world. I CAN'T give him up. Not yet, anyway."
Whatever thoughts she had, she kept to her promise. Did she mail him cookies for his birthday? Or give him a phone for his twelfth birthday, just in case a problem came up where he might need to text her?
She must have lie awake some nights wondering if he was safe, if he missed her or if he would later understand the promise she'd made to hand him over. I can guess that if she's anything like me she poured out sorrow that the child she'd begged for was out of arms' reach.
Moving on to the next section, are Eli's Wicked Sons. Wait. What? Eli? Wicked Sons? The same Eli that Hannah just handed over guardianship to? We find in 1 Samuel that "Eli's sons were scoundrels; they had no regard for the Lord." They slept with women who served at the temples entrance. You can debate whether or not Eli was a good father. It's not up for debate, however, whether or not her son Samuel was exposed to unsavory behavior. Wouldn't Samuel have been much better off sheltered by his mother who could monitor what he watched on YouTube and who he hung out with.
Instead, I've always thought, she gave her only child up to live with an almost blind man who kept sending her son back to bed that night when he rightly insisted there was a voice calling him in his room (a voice that turned out to be God.)
It occurred to me just this morning that she didn't give him up. She gave him over and then kept giving him over. We know that she visited Shiloh annually to bring him a robe she'd make for him. But she kept to her promise and trusted God with her most beloved possession. Each year she made the annual sacrifice and made the journey back home without him.
So now I give him to the LORD, for his whole life he will be given over..."
1 Samuel 1:28
In following section titles we read that her little Samuel grows up and subdues, and anoints and rebukes in service to the one he was truly given over to. Samuel said it best when he set up an Ebenezer stone after a victory proclaiming, "Thus far the LORD has helped us."
I think about Hannah often. The heart of a mom often results in (drunk-like) babbling. If we're not pleading to be given a child, we're pleading on behalf of our child; that God would reveal what ails their body in an illness and that He would heal them. We cry out when they've been the subject of cruelty; hoping that God might protect their hearts, and maybe mildly smite the person who hurt them.
What's important is who we babble to. Is there any trust beyond our pleading? As we give God our complaints, will we also give over our son, our daughter, our spouse?
I find it worth celebrating that Samuel's life began and ended in Ramah, the home of Hannah.
"But he always went back to Ramah, where his home was."
1 Samuel 7:17
We're called to trust Him no matter the cost, but in His nature God gives so much more than is ever taken away.