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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Never Give Up

We are continuing to look at mothers of the Bible who showed great faith and made sacrifices for their children. This week we’ll look at two mothers whose faith did not allow them to give up on their children even when all seemed to be lost.

A Shunammite woman, who had been childless, gave birth to a son after the prophecy of Elisha. But one day the boy became ill and died. The woman left the boy on the bed Elisha had slept on, saddled a donkey and rode off to find Elisha. When she told Elisha what had happened, Elisha commanded his servant Gehazi to go and lay his staff on the boy’s face. But the Shunammite woman said, "As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee" (11 Kings 4:30). So Elisha had no choice but to follow her. When they got to her house, Elisha "went up and lay upon the child ..." (V34) and the child was restored to life.

Rizpah was another mother of the Bible of whom little was known. But her unprecedented act of courage caused her name to be written in the annals of history. She was one of Saul’s concubines and she had borne him two sons. Saul slew some of the Gibeonites, and because of that there was a great famine in the land. Therefore David delivered Rizpah’s two sons, along with five of Saul’s other sons, over to the Gibeonites who hanged them in the hill as an act of revenge for what Saul had done. But Rizpah took sackcloth and spread it on a rock , "From the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night" (11 Samuel 21: 10, KJV).

When David heard what Rizpah had done, he went and gathered the bones of Saul and Johanathan his son, as well as the bones of those that were hanged. Rizpah did not have her sons brought back to life, but her courageous deed reached the king’s ears, and her sons were accorded a proper burial. And the Bible says that after that God answered prayer in behalf of the land.

How many of us would have the courage to equal that of these two women? They did not give up on their children even after they were dead. The Shunammite woman sought to have her son brought back to life, and Rizpah shielded her dead sons’ bodies from the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. If we would have just a fraction of these women’s faith and courage, we too would be greatly rewarded by God.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

God the Rewarder

I hope you all had a wonderful Mothers’ Day basking in the love and attention of your loved ones. I hope you also took the time to reflect on the great honor God has paid you through the gift of motherhood, and to thank Him for it. Never take this gift, nor your family for granted. Last week’s blog dealt with two mothers who suffered broken hearts because of the sacrifices they were forced to make. This week we’ll examine how God rewarded the sacrifices of Jochebed, mother of Moses, and Hannah, mother of Samuel.

It must have taken a lot of faith and courage for Moses’ mother to hide him near the river to escape being killed by the Egyptian king. But Pharaoh’s daughter came down to the river to wash herself, spotted the basket and asked her maid to fetch it. Pharaoh’s daughter "... had compassion on the baby and said, This is one of the Hebrews’ children"(Ex 2: 6, KJV). His sister, who was watching, asked her if she should go and fetch one of the Hebrew women to nurse the child. Pharaoh’s daughter agreed, and Moses’ mother had the unexpected joy of being able to nurse her own child again.

Hannah was another mother who did something that most women would have found unthinkable. After being barren for a long time, Hannah poured out her heart to God and made a vow that if God would remember her affliction "... and give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life ..." (1 Samuel 1:11, KJV) Why would she promise to give up something she so desperately wanted? I think the answer lies in this prayer that Hannah prayed. "They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry hath ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble." Hannah knew God would reward her for her great faith and sacrifice. And He did. Samuel became a great prophet and the Lord blessed Hannah with three sons and two daughters.

Yes, as mothers we are called to sacrifice for the good of our children. It may not mean giving them up the way Hannah did, but someday we have to let them go to fulfill God’s call on their lives. They may go to college, work in a foreign land, get married or even enlist in the army. Whatever it may be, we have to be willing to give them up, as these two women did, confident in the knowledge that God has told us, "... Refrain thy voice from weeping and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord ..." (Jer 31:16, KJV).