Sermon delivered May 10, 1996

by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

The Absent Mother

On Sabbath afternoons I enjoy going out for a walk. It's a good thing to get out into God's second book, His first book being the Bible. One Sabbath afternoon I walked through a cemetery and I saw inscribed on an old tombstone these words: "She lived with her husband 50 years and died in the hope of a better life." That was on that tombstone. On Sabbath afternoon we have a lot of time, so I just stood there and thought about those long years she had endured with that hard husband. Sometimes our homes are the survival of the fittest. Some men are so rough on their wives. Children give mothers a run for their money. Mothers have it tough!

Tomorrow is Mothers day. You know, motherhood is not easy. If it was going to be easy to raise kids, it never would have started with something called "labor." The labor never ends. One mother said that at her house mothers day was every day! It was mothers day to do the dishes, mothers day to fold the wash, mothers day to do the sweeping and on and on....

I want to talk to you today about a mother who was absent. Now you may be thinking, well, a lot of mothers are absent today. They're off at work. Children are at day-care. This mother is mentioned in the Bible. She was absent during most of the life of her child, and yet her child became being good. I want to ask a very serious question: Is it important to bring your baby to church? A baby doesn't get anything out of church, does it! You'd better think again. Let's look at a Bible character: her son was one of the greatest leaders in the Bible. This great mother had a name that spells the same forward or backward. (No, not EVE). Yes! Hannah! I want you to look at Hannah. Her son was that great spiritual Patriarch -- Samuel. Hannah only had her baby for 3 years when he was just weaned. Now if you're only going to have your child for three years, there's very little you can do because babies don't understand anything today, except if their diaper is wet or if they're hungry. Do you think that's true? Not so!

Let's turn to 1 Samuel 1:1 cf. "There was a certain man....whose name was Elkanah....And he had two wives: the name of one was Hannah and the name of the other Peninnah." Now Hannah had her baby, Samuel, for three years, until he was weaned. In the middle-east culture they weaned their children at about three years old. At that tender age he was taken away; his mother took him and she gave him to the high priest, Eli. What would you think of me if took my only son at the age of 3 and I drove to Silver Springs, Maryland and gave him to the president of the General Conference. Then the only time I'd see my son after that was once a year to give my son a new coat. I would probably be accused of child neglect.

Let's also suppose that the General Conference President was poor like Eli was, and also let's suppose that he two older boys: older than my little baby. And that these boys were evil and corrupt. They made fun of the church. Every time they needed money they'd go into the church treasury. They knew the combination to the treasury safe and took money from it to support their evil habits. Now what kind of father would I be?

Let's suppose the situation was so bad that people even stopped coming to church all over the land. Everyone knew that the General Conference president was to blame because he never disciplined his own evil teenage boys. What kind of a father would this man be to my little son? Imagine the evil influence of those wicked boys. I would be out of my mind to do such a thing.

But let's suppose that my son grew up to be a wonderful holy Christian Saint. Eventually he became the President of the General Conference, and the he became best leader our church ever had. Then what would you think of me as a parent? People would say: Wow, look at what that boy became despite his neglectful parents.

So.... just WHY did Samuel turn out so well? Did his mother neglect him? There are some rich morsels of spiritual truth for mothers in 1 Samuel: 2 First of all I want you to notice that Samuel's father was a Polygamist. Now, that's not recommended. He had with two wives. Besides that, he favored one wife over the other. And that always happens. I Samuel 1:5-- "But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her..."

Jealousy raged in the household. He gave Hannah two portions of food as if she had a child even though she could not get pregnant. When you want to have a baby and you can't.......It is tough. Why didn't she have a baby? Because God closed her womb. If you can't get pregnant, maybe there's a reason. People have a way of aggravating a poor lady who may never be a mother. "When are you going to have children? You're getting pretty old. You'd better ...." You know how the words go. They shouldn't way things like that. She had no fruit of the womb to celebrate. Her tears were bitter.

Notice verse 6 - "And because the Lord had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat."

Now, I want to mention ten keys to good motherhood. I want you to listen. Here are ten facts that are brought out in these verses. If you want to be a good mother, If your daughter is going to get married someday and you want her to be a good mother take notes if she's not here.

Here are ten keys to being a good mother, brought out here in the Bible about Hannah and her relationship with her son.

  1. - Good Mothers PLACE THEIR CHILDREN'S NEEDS FIRST! - Let me show you how this works out here. Even beyond your own happiness, you need to place your children's needs first. Now, Hannah did not DIVORCE her husband. Did she have grounds for divorce? Technically she did, didn't she? Her husband was living with another woman. He had another wife. Was the home happy? No, in fact there were tears all the time. It was like a living hell. But they stayed together! Because of the children, probably. Because of the hope for children. If only for the benefit of the children you need to stay together. I think parents tend to badly underestimate the damage divorce will inflict upon their children. They think, we can't get along. We're just going to separate. The kids will be just fine. That's not true.

    Your home may be miserable now, but divorce brings far more misery and for far longer into the lives of your children.

  2. - Good Mothers are GENTLE AND KIND! - Hannah was weeping, she was crying, she was suffering. It says her rival kept jabbing her with verbal remarks. What does it say that Hannah did about it? She didn't do anything. She was gentle and kind. Hannah never lashed out or fought back. She took all the unjust criticism in tears and silence. She remained sweet. And I think good mothers are gentle. God had a great still-to-be-seen purpose for His faithful mistreated servant. She remained sweet.
  3. - GOOD MOTHERS ARE PRAYING MOTHERS! - Look at verse ten. "In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord." Cry and pray: Pray and cry. She became a woman of deep prayer. Today's modern children desperately need mothers that are praying mothers. That's one of the greatest needs. You can read her beautiful prayer in chapter 2 of first Samuel. She even knew how to pray. In fact I read: "There is a mighty power in prayer. ... An appeal to heaven by the humblest saint is more to be dreaded by Satan than the decrees of cabinets or the mandates of kings." Seventh-day Adventist Commentary, Vol. 2 p. 1008.

    Listen to this poem written by a wayward son:

         I was but a youth and thoughtless as all are apt to be,
         Tho I had a Christian mother who taught so carefully,
         There came a time when the world came to allure,
         I no more sought her love so good and pure.
         She made my room an altar, a place of secret prayer,  
         And there she took her burden & left it in Gods care,
         I went my way unheeding, careless of the life I led,
         Until one day I noticed prints of elbows on my bed.
         While I wrestled with my conscience
         Mother wrestled still in prayer,
         Till that little room seemed hallowed 
         Because of oft she met Him there,
         My stubborn heart was broken 
         By those imprints on  my bed,   
         Her constant love and prayers 
         Were like coals upon my head.
         Mother-love and God-love are a combination rare,
         And one that can't be beaten when sealed by earnest prayer.  
         And so at last the fight was won, and I to Christ was led,  
         And mother's prayers were answered by her elbows on my bed."  
                                                    Author unknown 

    If you have a wayward child out there, you keep praying for that child. Hannah was a woman of prayer. Children need praying parents.

  4. - Good Mothers LAY HOLD ON GOD! - Look at I Samuel 1:11. "And she made a vow saying, 'O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head." She made a vow. She laid hold on God. She made promises and commitments to God. She was a totally SURRENDERED mother. The greatest need of modern children is to have a truly Christian mother who has a daily saving relationship with God.

    When her boy was finally born she named him Samuel which means "Heard of God". Obviously she had prayed long and hard laying hold on God and God heard her. Does He hear you? Yes, He does if you pray. Are you praying? Obviously she prayed long and hard, laying hold on God.

  5. - Good Mothers NEVER GIVE UP! - Verse 12 - Hannah "multiplied praying" (literal). Don't give up on your children. "It is part of God's plan to grant, in answer to the prayer of faith, that which He would not otherwise bestow." Great Controversy p. 525 (EG White). The prayer of faith means a lot. You mothers need to pray in faith about your children. You can't raise Godly children without being a Godly person! You can't expect your children to be good if you don't make an effort to be like Jesus. Develop a love for Jesus in your own heart.
  6. - Good Mothers have HIGH EXPECTATIONS for their children. - Expect the most from your children. She said here in verse 11, "He will serve God forever and no Razor will ever shave his head. She believed that she would have a son and she believed that he would serve God forever. She had high expectations for him.

    Let's say your child brings home the report card and it has a lot of one- legged A's. And let's suppose that you say to your child, "You know, this proves what I have always thought about you. I've always known that you are Stupid! You will never amount to anything! You are Hopeless!" What is going into the child's mind? Motivation for getting real A's? No. Do you know what is going into the child's mind? "I am stupid. This is the best I will ever do. My mother has even given up on me." Don't "bad-mouth" your children. Expect the best; have high hopes for your children. Your child will live up to your expectations, or down to your expectations about him. If you want high goals for your children you need to think highly of them. On the other hand if you have high expectations your children are likely to reach a high goal.

    At an elementary school researchers randomly selected 6 students in each class and told the teacher that these were special. They are SPURTERS! These can really go! They are going to really shine! They have potential! Actually they weren't special, they were just random students. Lo and behold, at the end of the school year the "Spurters" tested much higher than the rest of the class. In fact, the IQ for the first grade "Spurters" increased 27.4%. The only difference was that the teachers believed in them! Now, what does that tell parents? You need to believe in your child. You need to tell you child some good things about them. Don't "bad-mouth" them all the time. Uphold them for Jesus. Have high expectations. Children reflect their mothers attitude toward them.

  7. - Good Mothers have faith in their children. - Hannah was a Woman of Faith-- I Samuel 1:18 "'May your servant find favor in your eyes.' Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast." After she got the promise from Eli that she would get what she asked for she believed it. She was a person of faith. She went out; she started to eat something; she was no longer down-cast. 9 months before Samuel was born this mother demonstrated faith. You need to have faith in your children. They're going to make it. Especially if you believe in them.

    A Mother looks in her teenagers room. The music is loud. The place looks like a Collegedale Tornado just came through. Her child has a wild haircut and is eating junk food. The homework is not even started and it's late. If she believes that her child will amount to something and be a fine upstanding Christian she is a Mother of Faith. If she believe that child will be a fine upstanding Christian some day she will never give up on that child. Have faith in God and keep believing in your kids.

  8. - Good Mothers have a saving relationship with God. - Hannah had daily morning worship every day - verse 19. If you want to be a good mother, if you want to raise your child to be a special person, you need to have daily worship in your home. The Bible of a good mother never needs dusting. Your mother's old Bible is probably true, because she's read it through and through.
  9. - Good Mothers are desperate. - All she had was 3 years. Three years, that's all she had. She looked on her baby as an offering to God. Each moment with him was priceless. That early training pays off. A child learns more during the first years than he will ever learn again. She concentrated on teaching him how to distinguish between good and evil. A little baby, one year old, will learn the tunes in its mind that are sung in the Sabbath School class. These children need to be in Sabbath School. They need to be in church. So often we teach our children reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic, she concentrated on teaching Samuel how to distinguish between right and wrong. Really, that's all we need to know, isn't it, in our spiritual walk with life?.

    Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a Child in the way he should go and when he is old he shall not depart from it." Voltaire the famous Atheist, memorized an infidel poem at the age of 5. It's evil never left his mind! He became one of the greatest, notorious atheists in the world. Be careful what children put in their minds.

  10. - Good mothers give their best to their children. - Hannah gave all she had to Samuel. That coat she made him every year, the best coat she could possibly make. Her love was the finest. Her prayers were the greatest and the deepest. might have been absent most of his life, but he knew her love was as deep as a bottomless pit!

A four old boy was playing with a ball and it rolled past a parked car and out into the street. He ran after it. But He was hit by car. An ambulance came. He was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. He had internal injuries: he was bleeding internally. He needed blood badly. In his small town there was no blood bank. His mother was the only one who had his same rare blood type. She said that of course she was willing to give blood. The doctors said that she could give so much and that's all.

The doctors took all from her they dared to take. The boy rallied. He started to come around. But he still needed more blood. He couldn't get it from his mother. A call went out but no one in town had his type. The boy began to weaken. It was a desperate moment. Just then a strange man came in. No one in town had ever seen him before. His blood was tested and it matched! They took some blood and gave it to the boy. He received strength. He would be OK. His life had been saved by the stranger.

But the man that had given blood went into a coma. The doctors now had another emergency. As they worked to keep the man from dying they noticed something strange. It was soon discovered that this man was a woman. She was the boy's own mother. The same person. She had given too much blood. In and out of a coma she asked about her boy. The boy was brought in and she was told he would be fine. Her last words just before she died were: "Praise God, my little boy will be all right!" That's what Jesus did. He gave His life for you, and me. Can yo imagine how that boy lived after that? A good mother will give her best for her son, for her daughter, for her baby, for her child. Just like Jesus gave His life for us.

Samuel---the heaven instructed child, became an incorruptible judge. He was the founder of Israel's sacred schools. All because of his mother. "When Samuel shall receive the crown of glory, he will wave it in honor and [he will] gladly acknowledge that the faithful lessons of his mother, through the merits of Christ, have crowned him with immortal glory." AH 536.

You can be like that if you draw near to Jesus. You will be that kind of a mother. I think every mother here today want to make a re-commitment of your life, and you want to say, "I want to be the mother of my children that I should be." Maybe your child sis just a little baby. Maybe your child is unborn yet. Maybe your child is already grown up. You still have an influence on that child's life. Be the best you can be, and you become the best by inviting the Best into your heart. Invite Jesus into your heart just now, and draw near to Him.

Happy Mothers Day!

Opening Hymn 191  Love Divine
Responsive Reading  793
Closing Hymn  310  I would Draw Nearer to Jesus

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