Women's Devotional Bible #2

Zondervan's Devotional Bible #2

Being included in Zondervan's Women's Devotional Bible came as a surprise to me—and them! Having been purchased by HarperCollins, Zondervan helped themselves to three of my stories in Taming The Dragons, a HarperCollins book.

Unbeknownst to them, however, the rights had reverted back to me when Taming The Dragons went out of print—soon, however, to be re-released by me. What a pickle for Zondervan to discover they'd violated copyright law! Involving the Bible!

I got a rather sheepish phone call one day. I pictured my grandmother having a good laugh over the mistake and happily absolved Zondervan of any wrongdoing. I remain, to this day, pleased to have been included.


He Can't Hurt Me Anymore

...yet your father has cheated me by changing my wages seven times. However, God has not allowed him to harm me. ---Genesis 31:7 (NIV)

First Sweetbriar coverHe can't hurt me anymore.I remember one early spring day going out to my mailbox to look for a very late child support check. I was upset and even angry. Laban, it seemed, held all the cards. Then I opened my box and there was the front cover to my very first book. I remember looking at it, the sun warm on my cheek, reflecting off the glossy print; I saw my own name in big, bold type along the bottom. 

I plugged in the tea kettle, realizing for the first time just how great, how dreadfully deep, how black and immense my fear as a single mother really was. I'd been living in the shadow of starvation and with the fear of homelessness, worry for my children's welfare always driving me to work harder, save more, struggle, skimp, go without.

Unlike Jacob, I didn't have a Rachel to talk to, or even a Leah. But I had God talking to me. "I will let him cheat," God whispered gently in the warmth of that early spring afternoon, "but, Brenda, I will never let him harm you. Ever."

We can feel abandoned and orphaned, unheard from and insignificant in the great big world. But God whispers. . .and we know that we are safe, because none of us are ever without help.

Not Without Help

And she made a vow, saying, "O Lord Almighty, if you only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head." Samuel 1:11(NIV)

The yearly journey to Shiloh was a trying one for Hannah. Though she was her husband's favorite wife she had no child, and this was the most dreaded fear of every woman in a culture where sons determined a woman's worth and future. Furthermore, to be without a male child virtually guaranteed a woman a pauper's widowhood; to be without any child was guaranteed a curse of God.

And so to Hannah, journeying year after year to Shiloh, her unanswered prayers year after year must have stood a mockery more despairing than the cruel taunts of the unloved wife, Peninnah, with her whole passel of offspring.

"Why are you weeping?" her husband (I think foolishly, but probably more helplessly) asked. "Am I not better to you than ten sons?"

Not really. Elkanah was an old man and unable to provide any economic security for Hannah in a culture in which she would be reduced quickly to beggary after his death. The Bible doesn't tell us what she said. It only tells us what she did. She rose and went into the tabernacle to pray.

Hannah was the third woman in Biblical history to grieve so bitterly over her inability to conceive. We can only begin to appreciate the seriousness of the problem and the depth of such foreign pain when we see Sarah giving her husband (see Genesis 16)) and when we see Rachel, loved and cherished by Jacob, crying out in torment, "Give me children, or I'll die! (see Genesis 30:1). Very few of us have known desperation so deep we would invite another woman to share our husband's bed or feel as though we would surely die. Yet this was the very real pain of Hannah.

"O Lord Almighty," she prayed, spread out before the altar of God, "if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life." It comes as no surprise, then, to read two verses down, that in time Hannah conceived and bore a son and that she called his name Samuel.

"Because I asked the Lord for him" she said (v 20), and, because of Samuel, Hannah learned and we learn that we are never without help.
Weekending: Reflection

Sleeping BeautyTell me, did Cinderella live happily ever after without struggle? Did Sleeping Beauty live happily ever after without trauma? Did Rapunzel live happily ever after without grief? Did Hansel and Gretel live happily ever after without deprivation? Did Jack of the beanstalk live happily ever after without risk? Did Thumblina live happily ever after without sacrifice? Are there any fairy tales without any dragons?
Where in the world, then, did we get the notion that to live happily ever after means to live without trouble? For when we look at fairy tales we find it's not the absence of dragons—but the taming of dragons—that ushers in happily ever after.
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