"When the day came that Elkanah sacrificed, he would give to Peninnah his wife and all her sons and daughters portions of the sacrificial meat. But to Hannah he gave a double portion, for he loved Hannah…."
I Samuel 1: 4,5, Amplified Bible
"Contention In The House" Part I
"Favoritism" - A display of partiality toward a favored person.
"Nothing is satisfactory that is one-sided."
Charles Egbert Craddock
Have I ever been on the receiving end of favoritism and how did it make me feel?
"Underground issues from one relationship or context invariably fuel our fires in another."
"Nobody's family can hand out the sign ‘nothing the matter here.'"
I've always enjoyed Chinese food. And often through the years, our family has gone out to eat the wide variety of tasty morsels at a local restaurant that specializes in Chinese cuisine. For myself, there's always a favorite time of the meal when here in the United States, a bowl of "Fortune Cookies" is set on the table and each person reads the note that is tightly enclosed within the tasty treat. The quote I began our inspiration with today is like finding something special in a sweet "Fortune Cookie."
It's a Chinese Proverb which reminds us that, nobody can claim to have a perfect family. There may be one family out there. However, in my entire life, I've never met a family that operates like a well-greased engine all of the time for even the best-built and strongest engines, at times, seize up and blow steam everywhere.
Many years ago, my Jim purchased a beautiful used car that he had wanted for a long time. Everything on the outside looked so perfect - not a chip or nick. It was a dream car. And under the hood, the engine couldn't have looked or sounded better. However, about a year after the purchase, Jim began to hear a little clicking sound in the engine. He took the car to a mechanic he trusted, who after doing a great deal of work on the engine, found the problem - a tiny piece of metal had sheared off of one tiny bolt. This fragment of metal had wreaked havoc on the engine as it bounced around hitting this, that, and the other thing.
Our family lives are a lot like the engine and the piece of metal that clinks and clanks on the lives of those in the circle of our environment. Before you know it, you've had enough of the nipping, nagging, and nit-picking. The fuse is lit and get out of the way - an explosion occurs.
All this week we are going to look at those pesky pieces of metal that tear up our lives - and believe me they do. I've been on both the giving as well as the receiving end of some of those family explosions that often leave irreparable scars.
Today, we will look inside the home of Elkanah, Hannah, and Peninnah as over the next five days we identify certain toxic traits that like a metal chip, tear up the fabric of our homes. We will begin our study where the Bible starts and it is with the damage done by the trait of favoritism shown by Elkanah. First of all, God's plan was never that one man needed two wives, whether or not the person you married was able to conceive a child or not. After studying a wide variety of books on Hannah, I can say that every person I read noted that Elkanah married Hannah for love. And what a good reason this was to warrant a lifetime commitment.
Sadly, worldly custom took precedence over Godly wisdom and once it became apparent Hannah wasn't going to get pregnant as soon as Elkanah thought and as soon as Hannah thought she should, off went Elkanah to find someone who he hoped had a fertile womb - a rather self-serving motive, indeed. One might assume that once Peninnah gave Elkanah what he wanted - children - she would be his favorite, but not so. For when you marry for the wrong reason, love isn't always a natural result of a union and in this family we see firsthand how destructive it can be when the husband loves another more.
No matter what Peninnah gave Elkanah, his love for Hannah was deeper and stronger, to the point where he not only favored her with his emotions but also with her physical needs - he gave her a "double portion" of the sacrificial meal. Talk about in your face to Peninnah. With this major slight chipping away at Peninnah's heart which was the engine of her life, the day came when she could bear the pain no more and vented her anger on somebody, and that somebody was Hannah. How sad! Because the person who started this mess was Elkanah who showed favorites as he tried to meet his personal longings and desires outside the will of God.
One of the quotes I chose today was from author Harriet Lerner who so astutely notes that the relationships we have currently, have their underpinnings in experiences from our past. I am today, what has happened to me through the years - beginning with the day I was born, and the same is true for you.
However, praise God, we don't have to allow the habits of the past to take over God's plan for our future.
Having grown up in an extended family where I witnessed the destructive fissure of favoritism tear family members apart and divide people who should have been united, I want to learn from the life of Hannah that all of us can rise above the tendency we have to get in a rut and stay in a rut.
How thankful I am for the beautiful words of encouragement written by the Apostle Paul in Romans 2: 11, Amplified Bible "For God shows no partiality, undue favor or unfairness, with Him one (woman) is not different from another," or as the New International Version so succinctly states it: "for God does not show favoritism."
"The union of the family lies in love, and love is the only reconciliation of authority and liberty."
"O God, we pray for our family life, that we all may grow together in awareness of your love, that our lives together may reflect your brightness and your goodness."
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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