Day One: Jochebed
Read: Exodus 1-2
Moses’ mother, Jochebed, gave birth in an impossible situation. The Jews were living in slavery, being oppressed by a cruel ruler. Exodus 1 describes the horrible situation that the people were enduring. The King of Egypt had ordered all of the Hebrew children to be killed, but two brave midwives defied that order. And Jochebed did as well, hiding baby Moses for 3 months. She demonstrates remarkable faith in God by keeping her baby, when it could have meant her life. She demonstrates that great faith again when she places her baby in the river.
God rewards Jochebed’s great faith when she is actually hired to take care of her own baby!
Hebrews 11 is known as a chapter that lists the heroes of the faith. Among the more well-known biblical names, we find Jochebed. Verse 23 praises her faith, saying, “By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.” Her faith reminds us to stand up for what we know is right, even if the consequences are dire.
Pray: God, thank you for the faithful example of Jochebed. Help me to trust in your promises and do what is right, even if I might face consequences. Amen.
Day Two: Naomi
Read: The entire book of Ruth, if you have time, or read Ruth 1 and 4:13-17
We don’t know much about Naomi’s life before the loss of her sons. We do know that she has left her home because of a famine, and finds herself in a foreign land, now widowed and with two daughters-in-law, who are also widowed. When she returns home with her faithful daughter-in-law, Ruth, she is desolate and bitter. Even her old friends no longer recognize her.
When Ruth goes to glean in the fields and comes across Boaz, Naomi is able to mentor her daughter-in-law, telling her, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers.” Naomi is protecting Ruth and advises her to stay close to Boaz since he will keep her safe. She goes on, in chapter 3, to wisely advise Ruth to approach Boaz at the threshing floor, and humble herself before him, essentially asking him to marry and take care of her.
Through Naomi’s wise care and leading, Ruth is redeemed. She and Boaz have a baby. Naomi is restored to her former happiness, and the baby becomes the grandfather of King David, in the lineage of Christ himself.
Pray: God, when I experience loss, desolation, and bitterness, help me to be like Naomi. Help me to look beyond my present circumstances and hope for a better future. Help me to lead the people around me well. Help me to follow you in faithfulness. Amen.
Day Three: Hannah
Read: 1 Samuel 1
Have you ever had to wait for something good to happen? Hannah knew what it was like to wait. Though she desperately wanted a child, she remained childless for years. Despite this, Hannah trusted God. There are other women in the Old Testament who faced infertility (like Sarah in Genesis 18, Rebekah in Genesis 25, or Rachel in Genesis 30) but, unlike them, Hannah never tried to take matters into her own hands. She waited and she trusted God. Even when she cried out in her pain, she remained patient.
Could you imagine what it was like for Hannah to wait and pray for a child for so long, and then to just give him back to God? A child was the one thing that Hannah wanted more than anything else. And, instead of clinging to this gift when God finally gives it, Hannah offers her child back to him as an offering. “For his whole life, he will be given over to the Lord.” What a statement of faith!
Pray: God, give me faith like Hannah. Help me to ask for the things I want and wait patiently for your timing. God, help me to remember that all good gifts come from you, and everything that I have belongs to you. Help me to trust you more and more. Amen.
Day Four: Elizabeth
Read: Luke 1
Like Hannah, Elizabeth is another woman in scripture who faced the pain of infertility. Both she and her husband came from priestly backgrounds. It is very likely that other people in their community looked at them as spiritual leaders. But, she and her husband had waited for a child for many years. Luke says that they were very old. It’s very likely that they had totally given up on ever becoming parents.
Despite their age, after all of their waiting, and in God’s time, an angel tells them that they’re going to have a son. Children in this time were considered a time of blessing, so her barrenness would have been a source of shame for Elizabeth.
Elizabeth could have taken a pregnancy as a sign of God’s favor and showed off for all of the people who had caused her to feel ashamed. Instead, Luke says that she spent the early part of her pregnancy in seclusion, and thanked God for his gift of a child.
Can you wait patiently for the Lord to fulfill his promises? When you feel shame, do you wait for God to be your defender? Elizabeth is a great example of patiently waiting for the Lord to work.
Pray: God, help me to wait on you. Help me to be patient in waiting, even when I feel ashamed. Help me to be a good leader and example to others in my waiting. When I feel ashamed, God, help me to find my worth in you. Amen.
Day Five: Mary
Read: Luke 1-2
Imagine this: Mary is a teenage virgin in a backwater town. She is powerless. She is insignificant. She is a member of an oppressed people group in an occupied land. She is in a legally binding marriage contract and subject to stoning if she turns up pregnant. By saying yes to God, she is literally putting her life in danger. Even if she lives, she cannot expect Joseph to marry her in such a state. Her reputation will be ruined. She doesn’t have wealth, political power, influence in society, a position of privilege. The little that she does have is her good name, and she’s about to lose that. Her future marriage, her future happiness, her reputation, and even her very life are on the line.
And, almost without hesitation, she says yes.
Mary does not respond to the angel with disbelief. She asks a single question about the specifics of her situation, and then she responds with a rather astonishing statement: “I am the Lord’s servant, may your word to me be fulfilled.”
Pray: God, help me to be able to say that my soul magnifies you, God, and that I rejoice in you. Help me to praise you when I don’t understand what you’re asking of me. Thank you for the example of Mary. Help us to be humble. God, I ask that I will respond like Mary when you ask big things of me. “I am the Lord’s servant and May your word to me be fulfilled.” Amen.
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