I re-read this week with tears in my eyes. Especially on Day Three, when Sarah reached her breaking point at the ten-year mark. I never thought our wait for a family would last a decade. And, if I’m being honest, I was close to my breaking point. The months leading up to March of this year were excruciating. Full of wrestling. I’m ready to go buy my family now, I told Josh more than once in a silly, tongue-in-cheek way of looking at our options. Investing a lot of money in in-vitro. Or adoption. And yet feeling restrained. Still without a peace to move forward with either option. And knowing that I could step out anyway. But for us, it would be disobedience. And if you try to force something that isn’t God’s will? It won’t work. In-vitro could fail. Adoption profiles could never be matched. Expectations disappointed. Money wasted.
I remember one particular afternoon talking with a girlfriend on the phone about the decision of continuing to wait. When everyone else is out getting their miracle. Why wait? Why aren’t those options ours also? They were miracles for them – why couldn’t they be for us. And I’ll never forget the five words that came out of her mouth:
You don’t want an Ishmael.
For me, in our particular story, pursuing adoption or in-vitro was the proverbial version of Sarah giving Abraham over to Hagar. A decision made out of desperation. And control. And let’s-hurry-things-along-here because-God-has-obviously-forgotten-His-promise.
Resolving to wait longer still wasn’t easy. But He provided the comfort for that day. And the day after that. And the day after that. Until, one day, the LORD visited us in the timeframe He had promised. Just like He did with Sarah.
And now, after our own ten-year-affliction, I can say like Joseph did: God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.
this week in review
Let’s chat! This week was meaty and I can’t wait to hear about the things that really moved you!
In light of Hannah’s story and the rival wife that further aggravated her deep longing for a child, have you ever had a rival? A competitor within the same market of your business? Someone in your circle that you’re continually trying to outdo (whether you outrightly realize it or not)? Do you find yourself, like Hannah, running to the presence of God, or trying to deal with it on your own?
Did you see affliction in a new light this week? Big or small, is there an affliction you’re staring down or enduring? Were you able to find verses that you could turn into prayers, that He might teach you His promises? If so, what is it and what were they?
How has God met you subtly in your not-necessarily-talked-about-affliction?
It’s easy to forgot for seasoned Christians, but there are repercussions for sin. Describe a time when you knew that God was disciplining you as a direct result of sin. How did it train you, ultimately producing a harvest of righteousness that Hebrews 12:11 describes?
Share a time when you, or someone you know, suffered (big or small) for the furtherance of the gospel.
a peek at next week
We have just a few weeks left in our study together. Just a few more golden-nugget-treasures to dig out of what can otherwise be a dark and desolate season. Just a few more opportunities to learn how to shift our perspective to see things from His. And this week? We’ll explore Thankfulness and Joy. And, more importantly, how to choose to pick them up and use them rather than letting them lay on the wayside after coming across them.
This week’s nugget:
And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
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Thank you for reminding me to count it all as joy! There are times in our lives where things happen that we don’t understand. We don’t know why God lets us go through what we are dealing with. But we do have to know that He is in charge and if we live to glorify Him we will come out on the other end with stronger faith.
I am not a creature of change. I hate it to be honest. After reading day one the nugget I put in my separate journal titled “God’s advice” (it is my journal that I write what He is saying directly to me, separate from my bible study journal) I wrote:’ PRAISE CHANGES THINGS… if nothing else but your perspective. And sometimes that is the only thing that needs to be changed! I am taking this one to heart.
I love the amplified version of Prov 3:5 you included this week. I have not read it this way before. It is one of my favorite verses. How beautiful is that!
A lot of this study is geared toward youth, and I am in a very different season, but I love the way I can apply it to my life and what I am in the midst of. Isn’t God’s word great!
Hi Linda! I’m so glad you are getting so much out of this and that God is speaking so clearly to you! Thanks so much for sharing!
Jane, thank you for this study. It has been a messy yet transformative 6-weeks…a current affliction I’m facing is the pain that comes from idolizing other’s success and creative businesses. God has so graciously provided a helpmate who is loving and kind; he builds me up…yet I chase after worldly success. To be known. Hating every minute of my “desk job” and so badly wanting direction, passion, and enthusiasm to do creative work. Hannah had such a tender heart; it was soothing to read how turning to the presence of the Lord can shape such a beautiful story.