Monday, July 25, 2011

Telling My Least Favorite Bible Story--HELP!!

This week I'm teaching Vacation Bible School at my church.  Who am I kidding?  I'm not just teaching it, I'm adoring it!  My two favorite things:  preschool kids and teaching.  What's not to love?  I've got all these great ideas, and I'm full of ideas since I haven't been teaching for a year...

Anyway, it's going wonderfully except for one teensy, tiny, itsy-bitsy thing...the story for the final night of VBS.

It's the story of Hannah, and the theme of the night for the preschool is "God gives us good gifts."  Ugh.  I know God gives good gifts, but couldn't we have expressed that thought with another story?

All of my helpers are moms or grandmas, and while I don't know their personal stories, its going to be hard to tell the story with them in there.  Why you ask?  Well because the story of Hannah goes like this:  Hannah was married to a guy named Elkannah.  She was his most-loved wife, but he had another wife who was exceedingly fertile, who had borne him many children.  Hannah had none.  Zero, zippo, nada.  Wife #2 apparently had scads of free time, because she spent every waking moment reminding Hannah of her status as an infertile--and insinuated that Hannah was not "woman enough" or "religious enough" to be blessed as a mom.  Her husband, because he knew she was being treated wrongly, loved Hannah all the more tenderly.

Hannah wept bitterly, and I'm sure she often questioned God in her prayers.  Finally, during a trip to the temple during one of the holy festivals of the year, Hannah breaks down in prayer during a private visit in the temple.  She is crying and praying silently,(because even then infertility was the "taboo" subject) when the priest sees her.  His first thought is to shoo her out of the temple because she wasn't praying aloud--he thought she was soused--but then he asked her what the matter was.  When she explained her heart's desire, the priest assured her that God had heard her prayer, and that anyone as devoted as she would have their prayers answered.  Her prayer was that if she had a child, she would give him back to God.  Sure enough, by the next year, she had her baby.  Three years later, she came back and gave her son, Samuel, back to the temple in the service of the priest. Impressed by her faithfulness, the priest blessed her and her husband, and later Hannah ended up with 3 more sons and 2 daughters.  Samuel went on to some really awesome stuff, and there are two whole books in the Bible about his life.

It really is a wonderful story, and some days it does give me hope as an infertile woman.  My problem this week is that it seems that they want the story presented as "If you pray for something hard enough, it will be given to you."  I don't want to give my itty-bitties false hope, don't want to be that bitter, "God doesn't always give us stuff" person, and don't want to just start bawling in the middle of the story.  I don't want to mess them up.  I know they're just 2-5, but I worry that telling them something that's not a complete truth will end up being a stumbling block later on in life.

So here's my would you tell the story?  The theme "God gives us good gifts," is true, but what about the fact that He doesn't always give us everything we pray for?  How can I show my kids something to make the story "stick" ? 

On a personal note, how do you as an infertile woman deal with people who quickly bring up this story as the be-all, end-all to point out that if you were just religious enough, or prayed harder, that God would suddenly bless you with six children, and the reason you're not a mom is because you're "just not Godly enough"?  I've not dealt with a lot of women like that, but have had it dragged up by family memers (not close ones) and some older women who have never heard of PCOS.

I know this has been a long post, but I really would like a lot of input, please. Thanks!


  1. "If you pray for something hard enough, God will give it to you." Umm, really? So you're going to suggest to the four year old whose cat died that he didn't pray hard enough for it to live? Or the five year old whose classmate has cancer that she just isn't praying "right" and that is why her best friend is dying?

    Ranae, that angle is dangerous and shouldn't be taught at any age. What I'd do instead is this: God loves us. He takes care of us. Sometimes we don't get what we ask for, but God's plan is always best. Hannah didn't understand God's plan for her when she wanted a child and didn't have one, but she trusted God anyway. When the time was right, God gave her a child - not because she kept asking for what she wanted, but because He had a plan to use Hannah and her son, Samuel, to help others learn about God.

    As for your question about how to deal with people that bring this up, read all that I just wrote. The same applies. And understand that some people have much too narrow a view of God and that they may never get it. Trying to enlighten everyone can be exhausting, so for some you may have to shake the dust off your sandals and be on your way.

  2. Wow. That is a lot of theology in one lesson!!!! God does answer prayer and sometimes the answer is yes, no or not now. We often think God isn't answering when he say no or not now. But our hope is in knowing that in ALL things God works for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) Prayer can change things as we see when the people of israel asked for a king. or when Abraham prayed for Lot and his family. (Just two quick illustrations)

    It is somewhat dangerous to take one passage and says it says something without considering the entire Word. The Bible never contradicts itself but explains and clarifies itself.

    Pray and God will give you guidance and maybe even an object lesson.

  3. I guess the lesson at work here is the fact that God can. Shoot. I've never struggled with that concept. I've had a much more difficult time getting used to "Will He?" as opposed to "Can He?"

    Pretty sure Paul brings this up in the New Testament when he discusses his thorn in the flesh. To my knowledge, it was never removed despite great faith and prayers.

    And now that I've said that, I'm sincerely hoping infertility isn't my irremovable thorn in the flesh.