Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t give His children busywork? There are no trivial tasks in His kingdom.
All of His tasks are substantial…weighty…significant.
With implications for now…and for eternity.
One such task is that of building a family. God says in Malachi 2:15 that the foundation of His design for marriage is His desire for godly offspring.
Considering this truth never fails to blow. My. Mind.
God didn’t give me children for my own enjoyment…although He certainly knew they would bring me joy.
He gave me children so that I could raise them for Him.
It’s a sobering reality. An extremely high calling.
I wonder if you ever feel like this task is becoming increasingly difficult as we face obstacles from all sides in our culture. I certainly do…
Rampant immorality. Ever-diminishing standards of modesty. Redefining marriage. Child abuse. Murdering children in utero. Mass murders occurring like never before. Families disintegrating through the tragedy of divorce. Trash all over the media…
When I consider the obstacles, it’s easy to become discouraged by the task before me. It seems like this may be the hardest time in the history of mankind to raise godly offspring.
When I need encouragement about this high calling, God often brings Samuel to my mind. The book of I Samuel describes the boy Samuel being brought to the temple by his parents to serve God there, under the supervision of Eli, the priest.
Sounds like an ideal place for a boy to grow up, doesn’t it?
Far from it.
Eli’s sons, also priests, were corrupt, treating offerings with contempt and having sexual relations with women serving at the temple. And these abominations didn’t happen secretively; we know the reports of them were widespread because Eli “kept hearing all that his sons were doing to Israel” (2:22). It’s no wonder “the word of the Lord was rare in those days” (3:1). In fact, when God wanted to rebuke Eli for his sons’ behavior, He didn’t even address Eli Himself. He sent “a man of God to Eli” carrying words of doom and destruction (2:27). Eli was judged decisively for not hindering his sons from the sins they were committing; both of his sons died on the same day, and when Eli heard the news, he fell over and died also.
It reads almost like a soap opera, doesn’t it? But get this: In spite of growing up in the midst of such widespread perversion, Samuel grew up to be a godly man! An obedient man. A man with whom God spoke regularly, and a man God used to speak His truth to multitudes of people, including multiple kings.
What a beautiful example we can cling to in these times! What hope it brings!
I don’t know about you, but I’m almost desperate to know what made the difference for Samuel.
The answer to this question isn’t explicitly spelled out in Scripture. But as we study what the Bible does say, I believe we can make a reasonable guess…
It was the prayers of his mother.
You may be familiar with the simple, heartfelt prayer of Hannah in I Samuel 1 as she’s begging God for a child, and in I Samuel 2 as she exults in His answer. Even if you are, I encourage you to check it out again.
First, we see that Hannah was intimate with God. She knew Him. We don’t get the feeling that these were her very first prayers. And her descriptions of God in chapter 2 reveal her thorough knowledge of the Scripture, as well. In particular, she boasts in God’s sovereignty in the affairs of mankind.
We also see that Hannah prayed passionately. The text in chapter 1 says she was deeply distressed and wept bitterly. This is a woman who knew how to pour out her heart to her Lord.
Additionally, Hannah prayed in faith. When her time at the temple came to a close, we read that she ate and that her face was no longer sad. I believe this is a clear implication that she knew God had heard her prayers, and that she knew He could be trusted to answer. You see, when we know God’s character intimately, we can’t help but trust Him. Because He is always faithful.
So, do you think Hannah’s prayers stopped as her dear son was growing up? Especially when she left him permanently in the care of another…far away from her loving embrace, only seeing him once a year when she and her husband came to the temple?
Oh no…it’s far more likely Hannah prayed for her son every day, and probably many times a day.
And I think those prayers made a significant difference in his life.
Dear friend, God will certainly hold us accountable for our faithfulness to His calling on our lives.
But there’s a lot we can’t control.
And in those things…we must not yield to the worry that hounds us. We must not give in to the defeatist attitude that says raising a godly generation is an impossible task. We must not submit to that hopeless feeling we all have at times that says we’re fighting a losing battle.
Dear friends, we must pray.
We must get to know our God intimately, and we must lift our children before Him!
And not just occasionally. We must pray every day…multiple times per day. Alone. With our husbands. With our friends. With our fellow church members. Every chance we get, we should pray.
And not just casually. We must pray with passion. We must come boldly to the throne of grace, begging God for His help…pleading with Him for protection over our children’s minds and hearts. We must implore Him to pour His wisdom in to our minds, and to soften our children toward our authority.
And ultimately, toward His.
And then we must have faith that God hears our prayers, and that they will make a difference.