A couple months ago I taught them of Hannah. I've thought a lot about Hannah since then. I absolutely LOVE her! I've wondered if my mom related to her? My mom passed away about 10 years ago so I'm not able to ask. Hannah was a righteous woman who, like many women in the Old Testament, was barren. She wanted a child with all her heart. She watched Pininnah, the other wife of her husband, have children and was then ridiculed by this woman for not having any. There was so much pressure then to have a son- each person hoping the Savior would come through their line. Add that to wanting to please your husband as well as the natural yearning of a woman to nurture and love a precious child of their own.
|My beautiful mother|
Hannah was ridiculed and teased by Peninnah which hurt her terribly. Interestingly, she didn't go to her husband, who was a righteous man that loved her deeply, with her problems. She went to temple and cried in anguish to the Lord. I know my mom was somewhat ridiculed for her choice to continue trying to have children. I remember a time when someone had made a comment about it being her own fault for getting pregnant knowing she'd have problems. I could see pain in her eyes. I never heard her talk badly about this person. There was a time later in life, after her child bearing years were over, my own little family moved up the street from her. Our next door neighbor came to meet me and gave me the "lowdown" on the ward. She said there is a lady down the street who she avoided all the time because she'd ask for rides and was a big inconvenience, often faking illness. This woman was talking about my mom, not realizing we were related. I kindly let her know who I was and that my mom's brain tumor and health problems were anything but pretend. I know my mom felt certain peoples judgments but was always kind in return. I know she went to the Lord with her concerns. I picture my own mother going to the temple like Hannah did. I picture her doing this when her body betrayed her heart and fought the precious lives inside her and I picture this when she'd lose yet another child. I remember her going to the temple for answers, for peace, to be closer to Heavenly Father when she talked to him in prayer.
|For This Child I Prayed by Elspeth Young|
The same must be so for people who lose children to death after birth as well. I know people who've lost children at young ages. In each case I'm amazed at the strength they must have to get through such a trying time. They truly suffer. I have no doubt they come out stronger than before, and probably stronger than they'd imagined possible. They too remind me of Hannah. If they are righteous then in a sense they too are lending them to the Lord. The knowledge that there will be a time when they are reunited makes it much easier to live with this type of loss.
This thought made me think about those parents who don't have this knowledge or understanding, or those parents who don't want to listen. Our Heavenly Father made a way for families to be together after this life and forever. Some of us choose to follow the guidelines in order to obtain this blessing. Others choose not to. I found an article from the November 1999 issue of the Liahona by Jay E. Christensen of the seventy. He said, "When serving as a mission president, I met a couple who were grief-stricken over the death of their infant son. The young couple had gone to other denominations for help and answers but found that their doctrines brought little comfort. Also, their limited family funds could not cover the costs for a funeral service in their church; therefore, we assisted them with the funeral and burial of their son.
For my mom, this was incentive. She so wanted to be with these children she lost, and those of us that lived, that she was determined to live the way she needed to be with us again. I'm sure Hannah had a knowledge that through righteous living (on both of their parts) she could be with Samuel again. Maybe this knowledge made it easier for her to not be with him as much during this earthly life. After all, she must have had an inkling of this which is why she said she had loaned him to the Lord, inferring that she'd get him back after their mortal existence.
What if Hannah, or my mom would've let their guard down after these experiences? What if they'd forgotten the Lord? What if they only remembered him when it was convenient? What if they were nice to people but didn't follow all the teachings of the Lord? Is that good enough? A baby or child is pure. Can purity be with impurity? What is the limit of impurity that can be with purity? Jesus Christ suffered and atoned for our sins- he now has the right to free us of our sins and he will if we do our part and repent, make amends and quit doing those things which are impure. There are also promises which must be made and kept through baptism and other ordinances. The beauty of this is that through scripture and prophets we have the know-how to be with our families again after this life. Will we achieve what is needed in order to get there? It's up to us. We've been told that no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of the Lord. If these sweet children are with the Lord then where does that leave us? Needing to do those things which the Lord taught us.
I'm amazed at how many people try to make up their own rules thinking they count. I remember a taking a humanities class. The professor said that for those of us who attended every class and handed in every assignment on time we would get no lower than a C+, no matter what the test scores and assignment grades were. He was the teacher, the boss. He determined how the scores would effect the grades. There was a young man I got to know in my study group that showed up to class most of the time but not all the time. He attended our study group consistently (I think because it was mostly girls) and took us girls out on dates to the "community events" that were part of the assignments. He frequently missed the labs and I'm sure his tests suffered for that since it's where we got to know the different art work and classical songs. When it came time for grades he earned something lower than the C+ (I don't recall what the letter grade was). He was very upset. He went to the professor and demanded the C+. He was told that since he didn't attend every class period he had not met the requirements to earn that C+. This boy felt he still deserved it because he went to a study group which was above and beyond the requirements. Evidently the professor explained to him that going to the study group was great but not part of the deal in order to get the C+. The boy was stuck with the letter grade he earned. I remember him telling me how unfair it was, how the teacher could've made an exception but chose not to. He felt he was entitled to the grade because he met his own standards. The rules are set forth, if they are met the extra blessing is given, if they aren't the extra blessing is not given. President Ezra Taft Benson said, "You are free to choose — but you are not free to alter the results of those choices.” If God was to go back on this then he would cease to be God, not following his own laws, therefore becoming imperfect.
Just as Hannah and my mom loved their children our Heavenly Father loves us. Because he wants us to return to him and because he wants us to be with our spouses, children and families again he has given us the steps we must follow. He hasn't left us in the dark. Families CAN be together. It's up to us to do what's required so that we can obtain that wonderful, remarkable blessing.