A Persistent Mother

1 Samuel 1:26-28
“Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.”

For years, Hannah went to the house of the Lord with her husband and his other wife, and she grieved bitterly because she had no children. Her husband’s other wife provoked her until she sat sobbing and couldn’t eat. But Hannah didn’t give up. In her grief, she continued praying that God would give her a son.

The priest noticed her and, after a few words, told her God would give her what she asked of him. She believed the priest and stopped grieving. When she gave birth to her son, she named him Samuel, which means “Heard by God”, because she had a son as proof that God heard her prayers.

How many of us give up after three prayers? Or after praying for three days? Hannah prayed for years and didn’t give up.

Persistence is a terrific character trait to have, although sometimes we wish we didn’t have to prove that we have that trait in our arsenal.

When your prayers seem to be unanswered, just be patient and persistent. Don’t give up. Think about how many women, like Hannah have waited for the answer to their prayers. You might not have to wait for years like Hannah did, but in your time of waiting, continue improving your relationship with God. There is a certain intimacy that develops when we stick with God, not giving up, not becoming tired of praying. When you allow that intimacy into your prayers, you're not begging God to perform a miracle because it's what you want.

Make your persistence about God’s plan, not about yours. If in your time of waiting, you become impatient, don’t be tempted to give God an ultimatum. Don’t try to bribe him. It doesn’t work. Let your heart be softened toward God, and let him draw you closer, the longer you wait.

Then when you finally do get what you asked for, you know it’s God’s will, and you can enjoy it so much more.

A Bold Leader

Judges 4:8
Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.”

This month, I’m focusing on women who have been a positive influence in the lives of others. These women are bold, strong, and brave. They know what they have to do, and they’re not afraid to do it. And they act out of love.

Today, it’s Deborah’s turn.

Deborah helped Barak, the military leader, move the armies of Israel against the Canaanites, who had been oppressing the Israelites for 20 yrs. Judges 4:4 describes her as a prophet, a wife, and a leader of Israel. Talk about a busy schedule!

She’s the only female judge in the Bible that I’m aware of. It took courage for her to accept that role in the first place. Today, a time when most of the leaders are men, a successful woman leader stands out. In her day, Deborah stood out even more. The obvious question is “Why did she have success as a female judge?”

Her success was given to her by God. Not just handed to her, but given on a daily basis as a result of her repeated interaction with God. This is a time-tested ladder to success. It works today just as it did for Deborah.

When we read about Deborah, we learn three important things about her that affected her success as a leader. She was available, obedient, and caring.

She was AVAILABLE. Judges 4:5 tells that she made herself available to the people for her judgment. Verse 6 tells that she spent enough time with God that she could hear God’s words of direction. We often don’t hear God because we don’t spend enough time with him.

She was OBEDIENT to God. Her relationship with God earned her much respect among the people. In Judges 4:8,9 we learn that she understood from Barak’s response that her support would be the key to victory, so she decided to go into battle with Barak. Judges 4:14 tells that she spoke, and the top leaders paid attention. In Judges 5:3, she acknowledges God and doesn’t accept praise for herself when the victory is won.

She was CARING. Judges 5:9 shows us that she cared about the people she led.

When the people obey God through the leadership of one bold woman, everyone gets to celebrate. God rewarded Deborah’s courage by relieving the people of their oppression. Judges 5:31 lets us know that with her help, the Israelites lived in peace for the next forty years.

A Powerful Female Merchant

Acts 16:14
One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God.

This woman, Lydia, had a heart for God. She wasn’t homeless or poor, but rather a merchant. We know she sold cloth to rich people because poor people didn’t buy expensive purple cloth. Lydia had to be bold in order to be successful as a merchant. She heard Paul speak about God’s love, and she welcomed the men into her home.

I think “welcomed” is not what she did. She challenged them to stay at her house. She made the men decide whether she was a believer or not. If they considered her a believer in the Lord, they had to stay with her. If they didn’t, then she might consider them hypocrites. Her tenacity in the invitation was an affirmation of her faith. The men, by staying at her house, confirmed to her that God had not overlooked women.

During that period, it was a common thing for men to be important and women to be overlooked. But Lydia was a seller of purple cloth, and she wasn’t going to allow herself to be overlooked. The men accepted Lydia and showed other women that God’s love is big enough for everyone, even bold female merchants.

How do you and I show people God’s big love?

When a friend asked me to pray for her healing, I saw it as a challenge. I’d prayed for others, but this was a new opportunity for me. I’d never prayed for a pastor’s wife before. Not with her standing there waiting on me to start praying. Was my faith big enough for that?

I remembered that God was the one being challenged, not me. I wasn’t able to heal anyone, but God heals people all the time. My friend’s boldness caused me to confirm to her that God’s love is big enough and powerful enough even through my prayers.

And, yes, she received total healing that day. God is enough.

A Powerful Mom

Matthew 15:26-27
He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

A mother’s persistent love can overcome many obstacles. Matthew 15:21-28 shows the example of a mother who never gave up. Her daughter was suffering terribly, and she knew Jesus was able to heal her. She was basically told – by Jesus, himself – that she wasn’t important enough for him to stop and listen to her.

Did she get offended? No. It took a special “mother’s boldness” for her to continue pressing Jesus for his healing touch for her daughter.

Personally, I think that Jesus knew he was going to heal the woman’s daughter, but let her make a big scene in front of the disciples so he could teach about the woman’s great faith. I think Jesus was paying attention to her, but he had to let the woman wake up The Twelve. She was willing to eat the breadcrumbs when the disciples weren’t eating the bread on their plates.

Sometimes Jesus lets us press into him just a little bit more before he answers our prayers. It may be so we’ll get passionate about what we’re praying about, or it may be so someone else will notice what God does in that situation.

We say we’re Christians, but we often need a little lesson on walking with God. Christians get into a religious rut and stop depending on God at times. It is during those times that God pushes us to wake up and use our faith more than we ever have. We need to be persistent. We need a closer relationship with Him.

God is the fire that warms our hearts. If we don’t stay close to Him, our hearts get cold. I think Jesus uses people like the mother with the sick child to wake us all up and encourage us to get closer. When you and I see a surprising “faith event” like the mother’s persistence, we should check the temperature of our hearts and see if we’re the ones God wanted to challenge.