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The Mothers and Daughters of the Bible Speak

The Mothers and Daughters of the Bible Speak PDF

Author: Shannon Bream

Publisher: Broadside Books


Publish Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN-10: 0063225883

Pages: 288

File Type: Epub

Language: English

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Book Preface

Have you ever had one of those days? A day when it seems like everything that happens gets in the way of your progress and plans? I had one of those in 2021, and the lesson it taught me is at the heart of this book. It can be hard to keep your mind focused on things above when circumstances here on Earth seem to be specifically aimed at stealing your joy, but nothing we encounter in life is without purpose.

It was early morning. I had an event planned for a Saturday evening, hundreds of miles from my home. We had rolled out of bed to get to the airport, boarded, and were ready to go at 7:45 a.m.—a stretch for me as I normally don’t get to bed after work until 2:30 a.m. I hadn’t done much but throw on some relatively presentable casual clothes after brushing my teeth. That’s when the announcements began. “We’ve got a minor mechanical issue to rectify and then we’ll be on our way.”

I have a confession to make: I am a closet travel agent. It’s not just that I love to actually go places; it’s that I want to investigate and research every possible option long before I lock in the plans themselves. So when I heard about the delay, I also began to dig up all the possible options to get us to our event on time. There was another flight leaving for our connecting city very soon, but we’d have to abandon the flight we were on and take our chances that our luggage would make it. We rolled the dice. After several more close calls and irritating delays, we landed safely at our destination.

Time was tight, but I was confident that I could still pull together my hair and makeup and take out my secret weapon: the black dress that does not wrinkle. Speaking of wrinkles, guess what happened when we checked for our baggage? You can see where this is going. Panic began to set in. The only luggage that had made it was the one with my swimwear. I couldn’t exactly take the stage in a Miraclesuit and a sarong.

The baggage office at the airport told me there was a “good chance” the missing bags would show up on the next flight coming in from the city we had just connected through. By my calculation I could hit up a local drug store and pull off an emergency makeover, but I might still have to show up on stage in glorified sweats. I was sleep-deprived and beginning to lose it, my worry intensified by the news that the rental car company couldn’t find us a vehicle—despite our reservation.

After a thirty-minute delay, we sped off so I could rush through a drugstore, grabbing tinted moisturizer, mascara, blush, dry shampoo for my greasy hair—anything that might help. There was just enough time for us to dash back to the airport to see if the two missing bags were indeed on that incoming flight.

In the first bit of good news that day, they showed up! Pedal to the metal, I started putting on my face in the car. When we arrived at the church, the pastor and his wife could not have been kinder. They had been praying for us all day, through the many unplanned irritations and detours. As I made peace with the slicked-back ponytail I’d be sporting, I threw on that wrinkle-defying dress, and we said a quick prayer.

Before I spoke that night, three women took to the stage and shared deeply personal stories of loss and how God had redeemed their enormous suffering for His glory. With each bit of vulnerability and pain they revealed, I felt a dagger going through my own heart. I had spent the day angry with everyone and everything, insulted that my plans were being thwarted at every turn. I demanded to know why God would drag me through these circumstances when I was exhausted and trying to show up to make Him look good. Oh, and by the way, why wasn’t He going to let me look good for this event? A glam session courtesy of Walgreens was not what I had in mind! I mean, if I didn’t look good, how was I supposed to make Him look good?!

Ouch. I sat in that pew watching the day flash before my eyes, finally getting the point.

This day wasn’t about my getting up on that stage unflustered and polished; it was about realizing that I’d had the wrong focus all day long. This event was about walking through life with women who had suffered loss or were in the midst of it at that very moment. Why did I think that showing up looking as though I had not a care in the world was the right way to share God’s grace and promises? I was in tears by the time the pastor’s wife introduced me and told the women I’d had such a rough day. All day, all those annoying disappointments were actually the whole point. The Lord took me on that roller coaster so that my heart would be much more attuned to what He wanted to say through me. It wasn’t about me; it was about Him and the women He deeply loved. It was about being humbly vulnerable, genuine, and transparent.

So much of what we read in the Scriptures magnifies this same lesson over and over again: the journey is part of the process. What looks like a delay in getting to “the good stuff” is an inescapable, necessary leg of the trip. Even Jesus Himself modeled that for us in Matthew 3:13–4:25. At the beginning of the passage we see John the Baptist baptizing Jesus.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16–17)

Wow! God Himself spoke from heaven, making clear to everyone that Jesus was indeed His son. Could there be a more perfect time for Jesus to launch into His public ministry? Why not walk straight from that baptism and heavenly proclamation into the streets and start doing miracles?

Because that wasn’t the plan. Instead, this is what happened immediately after Jesus was baptized.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. (Matthew 4:1–2)

Before Christ could begin His public ministry, He was sent on a detour that tested all the limits of the human mind and body He’d chosen to take on. In the verses that follow we see the devil repeatedly tempt, test, and taunt Jesus. For weeks, Jesus was alone—hungry and thirsty—and tormented by His enemy, our enemy. At any moment, Jesus could have called the whole thing off. Instead, He stood firm, quoting Scripture and faithfully living out the torturous, earthly assignment He’d been given. At the end of that excruciating time of trials, Jesus preached and gathered the men who would become His disciples. Matthew 4 ends this way:

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him. (Matthew 4:23–25)

Nothing is a surprise to our Heavenly Father. Immediately after Jesus was publicly claimed and esteemed by His father, He was led into the literal wilderness by the Holy Spirit. It was only after those forty days and nights that Jesus was launched into His public ministry. The intense time of persecution and physical stress on Jesus wasn’t simply an incidental detour. It was all part of the plan, perhaps a refining fire.

You’ll see the same principle in this book, in the stories of the mothers and daughters. Often their lives can seem wildly off track. Sometimes it’s hard to understand the suffering that finds its way into their paths. Maybe that’s true of your own journey. What’s consistent throughout all of time is that God has purpose in each twist and turn, especially the ones we don’t see coming. As Joseph told the very brothers who once plotted to kill him, and whom he later saved in their hour of need:

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20)

May you see the very same truth illustrated in the lives of the women on these pages, and in your own life too.

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