Revive Our Hearts Podcast

When You Feel Alone

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Learn more about the Elizabeth Bible study.

Watch Nancy teach this series.

Leslie Basham: Do you ever feel alone in your walk with God? Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has a suggestion.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Let me encourage you, in those moments, to ask the Lord to direct you to a sister—another woman—who knows and loves and walks with God, who will walk with you!

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned, for January 16, 2019. You’re about to hear a story that involves a special piece of clothing, and you’ll want to see it for yourself, so watch the video of Nancy teaching at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Nancy: I never had the opportunity to meet Henrietta Mears personally. She died in 1963 when I was five years old. But I know a lot about this woman and have admired her, and she’s had a huge impact in my life over the years

Henrietta was a Christian educator. She served on the staff at Hollywood Presbyterian Church in Southern California; she founded a Christian retreat center; she founded a Christian curriculum publisher. Henrietta Mears never married, and perhaps that’s one of the reasons that I was interested in her life, even as a young woman.

God used her in a significant way in the lives of many Christian leaders of her day—including a, then, young man named Bill Bright, whom she encouraged as an early, young Christian. At the time Bill was dating a girl named Vonette, who was struggling to believe that the Bible was true. So Bill took his girlfriend, Vonette, to Miss Mears to meet her.

And Miss Mears, who had a really great mind for apologetics and defense of the faith, talked with Vonette and ultimately led Vonette (later Vonette Bright) to the Lord. Miss Mears opened her home to Bill and Vonette when they first married. Her home was near the campus of UCLA, and Campus Crusade for Christ began in Miss Mears’ home there in Southern California.

Vonette Bright was a lifelong friend of my family; I’ve known her as long as I’ve been alive. She’s now with the Lord. She had a huge influence in my life, was like a second mother to me. She prayed for me, encouraged me, inspired my faith. Through Vonette I heard a lot about Henrietta Mears over the years. I read her biography, and I was challenged by her faith, by her ministry.

One of the facts you may not be aware of—if you’ve heard of Miss Mears—is that she was known for her large collection of hats. Many of them were large and flamboyant hats. When she died, the hats were given to Vonette Bright. I often stayed in the Bright’s guest room where these hats were arranged hanging around the top of the wall of that guest room.

I had the privilege of seeing those hats many times over the years. When Vonette Bright died, shortly after Robert and I were married, knowing of my love for both these women, her family passed on to me one of Miss Mears’ hats! So . . . do you want to see how it does? What do you think? I don’t really know how to wear a hat, but how’s that?

This hat is a symbol to me of the lives of these precious older women (one of whom I never knew personally) who poured so much into my life! It speaks to me of the power of relationships between older and younger women and how they can inspire and encourage each other—whether they wear hats or not. It just reminds me of that.

We’re going to see something about that kind of relationship today as we go to the gospel of Luke chapter 1, beginning in verse 39. In the last program, we talked about how the angel came to Mary and said to this young teenage girl who had never been with a man (she was engaged to be married), “You’re going to have a child, and this child is going to be the Son of God!” It’s just a never-to-be-repeated, amazing moment!

And then, verse 38 tells us that after Mary receives by faith this word, she says, “I am the Lord’s servant; may it be to me according to Your word” (paraphrased). Then, the next verse, verse 39 of Luke chapter 1, says,

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.

Nobody really knows for sure what the town was. Many commentators think it was Hebron, which was a city of the priests that was about twenty miles from Jerusalem. But was about eighty to a hundred miles from Nazareth, where Mary was from. So how Mary got there, whether she went alone or went with a caravan going or how she did that, we don’t know. But we know that she made a beeline for the home of her friend and relative, Elizabeth.

Now, Scripture doesn’t tell us why Mary decided to go to Elizabeth’s house, but as I’ve been meditating on this passage, it just seems to me that Mary must have known that Elizabeth was a woman she could trust and a woman who would care about the story Mary was experiencing and who would believe God with her.

So, Mary gets to Elizabeth’s house. Elizabeth was in her six month of pregnancy, having been in seclusion (the Scripture already told us in Luke 1). She stayed secluded for the first five months of her pregnancy. And here’s Mary who’s this young woman who is at the very beginning of her pregnancy.

Both of these women are aware of what no one else could understand—that the spiritual darkness that had prevailed in this world for so long was about to be over! The dawn was coming. The dawn for which God’s people had longed and groaned for centuries!

Now as far as we know, Mary’s visit was unexpected to Elizabeth. They didn’t have cell phones and social media or ways that they could connect with each other. I would think that, humanly speaking, this wasn’t the best time in Elizabeth’s life to have a house guest for three months—in the last trimester of her pregnancy.

But Elizabeth welcomes the younger woman and embraces every part of the plan that God is unfolding in Mary’s life. Let’s read, beginning in Luke 1, verse 41:

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord (vv. 41–45).

And so, here God weaves together the lives of these two women, so very different. They were from different parts of the country, so they came from different cultures. One was young, the other old. (Have we read in Luke 1 that Elizabeth was old? We’ve seen that a few times!) But both were miraculously pregnant—one having been barren for years, now six months pregnant and the other, this young teen engaged to be married. She had kept herself pure in a city, Nazareth, known for immorality. She’s now pregnant by the Holy Spirit.

So the ways that this is happening to them are different, the details are different, but there’s a similarity to their stories. Elizabeth models for us in this moment the beauty of an open heart and an open home. And she and Mary over these months, we can only assume, become a mutual gift to each other.

I can imagine that Mary, the younger more energetic of the women, was helping Elizabeth around the house and getting ready for Elizabeth’s baby. I can imagine that Elizabeth was encouraging and mentoring the younger Mary. These were two women who both knew the Lord and loved His Word.

I can imagine they provided meaningful company for each other because, remember, Zechariah couldn’t talk. So for five months, Elizabeth had been in seclusion with a husband who couldn’t say anything! Imagine that. So these women experienced sisterhood, even with their great age differences, and friendship. They encouraged each other.

These two women were alone in their circumstances. There were few who could understand what they were going through, and both of them were recipients of divine gifts and divine revelation. God had sent messages to them. They both would have hard lives ahead when it came to the lives their sons would live and die.

And here, at this very tender, sweet moment while they’re both expecting—one with the one who would be John the Baptist in her womb, the other with the Christ, the Messiah, in her womb—God leads them to each other. They draw strength and encouragement from each other in that moment.

Now, I imagine that there are times in your life, as there are in mine, when you feel alone in your walk with God. No one else understands what God is putting on your heart, what He’s doing in your life, what He’s burdening you with, what He’s bringing to your attention. And you can start to think, Am I crazy? Because no one else gets this! You feel alone in the calling He’s given you.

Let me encourage you, in those moments, to ask the Lord to direct you to a sister, another woman who knows and loves and walks with God, who will walk with you. And don’t think that that sister has to be in the same season of life that you are or that she has to be the same age.

There’s something sweet about God bringing this young teenage girl and this old lady (we’re told that she’s an old lady!) together for three months. It’s beautiful! Let God use who He wants to use in your life to encourage you in those seasons . . . and for you to be an encouragement to.

Now, let me go back over those last several verses, verses 41–45, of Luke 1. I want to just unpack each of those sentences a little bit further and make some application for our own lives and relationships.

Verse 41: “When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb.” Now, those of you who have given birth to biological children, you know that this is what’s called “the quickening”—the first time the mother feels the baby move in her womb.

How many of you who have had children can remember when you first felt the baby move in your womb? Do you remember what you were doing, where you were? In the first pregnancy, this is normally between weeks sixteen and twenty-five, so that’s right where Elizabeth would have been at this time.

And it says the baby “leaped.” That’s the same word that’s used in the Greek version of the Old Testament that talks about twins Jacob and Esau “struggling” in Rebekah's womb—like wrestling with each other. It’s the same word that’s used in Psalm 114, for the mountains “skipping” for joy.

The baby leaped in her womb; the baby skipped in her womb. And we’ll see that it was for joy. Then it says, “Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” If you’re reading through the gospel of Luke, particularly in these early chapters, you want to highlight every reference to the Holy Spirit.

There’s not nearly as much in the OId Testament as there is starting now in the gospels, but particularly the gospel of Luke, about the role of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit references stand out in Luke chapter 1. Remember back in verse 15 that Gabriel had told Zechariah that his son, John the Baptist, would be filled with the Spirit in his mother’s womb.

And then, in verse 35, Gabriel told Mary that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and would enable her to conceive this child that would be her son, but also the Son of God. And then in verse 67 (we haven’t gotten there yet; we’ll get there tomorrow), after the birth of John the Baptist, Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and he prophesied a beautiful prophecy.

And now, in verse 41—in the presence of the Savior that Mary is carrying in her womb—Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit. I think of Ephesians chapter 5 that tells us that we are all to be filled with the Holy Spirit. And what is the evidence that’s given there? What does it look like when we’re filled with the Holy Spirit? You can’t see the Holy Spirit, so how do you know when you’re filled?

Well, there are a lot of evidences in Ephesians 5 and 6, but let me just read a couple of verses that say when you’re filled with the Holy Spirit, what will you do? You’ll be speaking to one another in “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making [music] with your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:18–20).

What did Elizabeth do when she was filled with the Holy Spirit? We’ll see in these next few verses. She gave thanks to the Lord and—speaking to one another—she spoke to Mary and encouraged with her with words of faith and words of confidence in the Lord.

So, verse 42 says this woman filled with the Holy Spirit, “exclaimed with a loud cry.” Before we read what she said, that phrase, “loud cry” means “a moment of ecstatic excitement!” Keep in mind, again, she hadn’t had much of anybody to talk to for the last five months. So she was thrilled with what was happening and now she had opportunity to express that.

It’s a spontaneous expression of delight and wonder and joy! God was doing great things, not only in her and for her, but around her and in this world and in the woman who came and appeared at her door. Elizabeth was not at all shy about expressing what God was doing. That’s what happens when you’re filled with the Spirit! You become exuberant, thrilled with what God is doing!

Now that doesn’t mean we always talk with a loud cry or a loud voice—sometimes it’s appropriate to talk softly and gently. But there’s like this joy welling up in Elizabeth’s heart that expresses itself verbally.

And what does she say, continuing in verse 42: “. . .with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!’” That word “blessed” is a word from which we get our English word “eulogy.” It means to “speak well of someone; to express good wishes.”

And so Elizabeth, who should have received the greater honor as the older woman, she shows honor to the young woman, rather than expecting the young woman to honor her. She blesses the young woman who shows up at her home, and then she blesses the child that Mary is carrying in her womb: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”

Now, women being women, I can imagine that Elizabeth could have felt jealous toward the younger woman who had been honored in such an amazing way. After all, Elizabeth had walked with the Lord faithfully for decades. And she was going to have a son, yes, but you know, God gives us something special and then we say we want something else! Right? We want something more.

It’s never enough. Our bent is toward discontent, isn’t it? “So, why does Mary—this young teenage girl who hasn’t had all these years of faithfulness—why does she get to have the Messiah and I just get the forerunner of the Messiah?” Well, there is none of that in Elizabeth’s spirit—no comparison, no insecurity, just praise, blessing, and encouragement.

Elizabeth’s son would be great, but Mary’s Son would the greatest of all sons, the Most High. And Elizabeth rejoices in God’s blessing on Mary’s life. She celebrates the way that God chose to use Mary.

As I was thinking about this yesterday, I remembered when we first started Revive Our Hearts, and I was “the new kid on the block.”

I was—I don’t know—in my early forties, but there were three older women broadcasters who had been doing this for a long, long time. And when we would come to National Religious Broadcasters conventions or be around each other, it was amazing how those three women (you would know all of their names if I said them to you), they were amazing about honoring me, blessing me, encouraging me, cheering for me, praying for me. I remember one of them, when there was a station that was having to make a choice between putting that woman’s program or my program on the air (because there were only so many slots available), this woman came to me and said, “I’ve told that station that if there’s a choice, I want them to put your program on, because I’m so thrilled for what God’s doing through you!”

I stood in awe of those women at that time. I remember what a huge gift that was for me! It modeled the way that I want to bless those who are coming behind me, because now, I’m the older woman and there are younger women that God is raising up who are being used to blog, to write, to speak, to serve in various ways. I want to be an older woman who blesses those women, as Elizabeth did Mary.

You know, “rejoicing with those who rejoice” (Rom. 12:15). That’s what we see in Elizabeth here, isn’t it? And do you agree with me that sometimes it’s easier to mourn with those who mourn, those “who weep” than to rejoice with those who rejoice. But I see Elizabeth rejoicing with Mary.

And just a couple of other kind of personal applications here for our lives. This is not the main point of the passage, but it reminds us—as Elizabeth blesses the child in Mary’s womb—that children, including those in the womb, are a gift from the Lord. They’re an occasion for joy and celebration.

So I love to say to expectant mothers (now, make sure you really know they’re expectant before you bless them for their baby!) . . . I love to say to them, “Blessings to you and blessings to your child!” I love to bless those little ones in the womb, and I’m so thankful for mothers who are willing for their bodies to be used in that way, to give birth to children.

God doesn’t give that gift to every woman who loves Him and serves Him, but when He does, that child in the womb is a gift from God. It’s not just blessing expectant moms, it’s blessing and honoring other believers because Christ is in them. That’s why Elizabeth honored Mary because, “The baby that is in you is the Christ!”

She was blessing Mary because of the role she had been given, to carry Christ. When I meet another believer—when I meet you, Janet, or I meet you, Lisa, or I meet you, Barb—there’s Christ in you, and so I can bless you. I should be glad to see you. Christians should be glad to see each other.

We should greet each other warmly and enthusiastically and graciously, and we should bless each other, even as Elizabeth did Mary. Well, verse 43, Elizabeth says, “Why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Mary knew that Elizabeth was expecting, because the angel had told her, right?

But there’s no evidence that Elizabeth had been told about Mary’s pregnancy with the Son of God. Mary was probably just pregnant; she probably didn’t have a baby bump yet, so how did Elizabeth know? Well, we read earlier that she was filled with the Spirit, right? God must have revealed it to her.

And so, when Elizabeth said, “Blessed is this child that is in your womb,” she’s encouraging Mary by confirming to Mary what the angel had already told Mary. It’s just to bolster her faith. And then, notice here that Elizabeth is the first person in the Scripture to call Jesus “Lord.” Lord! “The mother of my Lord”—even before He was born!

“Lord” is the exalted title of Deity, and what she’s really saying is, “The Son you are carrying is God!” God! God in the flesh! Elizabeth is humbled, and she’s amazed “that the mother of my Lord should come to me” (v. 43). She didn’t see herself as worthy of this honor. There’s a sense of awe that God would come to her house. It foreshadows the day when her son, John, would say of Jesus: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

Verse 44, “For behold,” Elizabeth says to Mary, “when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” That word “joy” means “extreme joy and gladness; exultation.” It’s as if John, in Elizabeth’s womb, was aware that he was in the presence of the One whose forerunner he would be.

What kind of sense do babies in the womb have? I don’t know, and we can’t speculate, but we know that in this case the Holy Spirit filled that baby in the womb. That’s not a theological norm, but the Scripture says that happened, and the baby leaped for joy.

No wonder! Darkness was getting ready to become daylight; death was getting ready to become life; despair was getting ready to be transformed to hope. This whole encounter is a joy-filled one. Joy ought to be natural when believers meet each other, because Christ is in us! “Joy to the world, the Lord has come!” It’s not just for Christmas. It’s for everyday living as God’s people.

Verse 45, Elizabeth says to Mary, “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Elizabeth knew the importance and power of believing what God had said. You remember, her husband had lost the power of speech, for what would be a total of nine months.

Why? The angel said to Zechariah, “. . .because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time” (Luke 1:20). So Elizabeth, having learned that lesson, says to Mary, “Blessed is the one who has believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

Joy and blessing are the by-products, the fruit, of believing that what God had said will be fulfilled. That word “fulfillment” is a word that means “completion.” Another form of that word is what Jesus said from the cross when He said, “It is finished!” (John 19:30) Fulfilled. Mary believed that God had fulfilled, completed, what He promised He would do.

And Elizabeth said, “Because you have believed that the word of God will be fulfilled, you are blessed!” When we believe that Jesus has fulfilled, has completed, has finished His sacrifice for sin, we are blessed! Blessed is she—or he—who believes that there will be a fulfillment—a finishing—of what was spoken to us from the Lord.

And so, Elizabeth is a Titus 2 woman, teaching, encouraging the younger woman in love, in faith, in purity. She was teaching her, encouraging her to believe God, affirming the word of God,saying to her young friend, “You can trust God to write your story.” Elizabeth models the beauty and the power of challenging each other to believe God’s promises.

This hat symbolizes the ways that Henrietta Mears and Vonette Bright and other women of God, including my precious mother, have impacted my life, how they’ve passed on to me the baton of faith. So my question is, “Who am I passing this hat on to?” Who are the younger women that I’m encouraging in their faith, their walk with God, encouraging them to believe God, blessing them when they step out in faith to trust God?

Mary sought out Elizabeth at a crucial point in her journey and Elizabeth was available. She received the younger woman, spent three months with her. So, if you’re an older woman, who are you investing in?

If you’re a younger woman, who are the older women that you’re seeking out to give you wisdom and encouragement? And together to have sisterhood, friendship, companionship, growing together in the ways and the things of God? It’s a sweet, sweet relationship that God intends for us to have as believing women in every season of life, and at whatever age!

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. The hat she referenced is one that belonged to Henrietta Mears, a woman who spent her life investing in the women around her. You can see this hat in Nancy’s teaching video on ReviveOurHearts.com.

What’s one truth you’re taking away from today’s program? Are you challenging other women to believe in God’s promises? Do you believe in His promises yourself? I often doubt God’s promises when I’m facing major disappointment.

You likely have disappointments of your own. The question is, how do you trust the Lord when your longings remain unfulfilled? Nancy has covered this topic in this current series, and you can find out even more in a new Bible study from Revive Our Hearts. It’s called Elizabeth: Dealing with Disappointment—part of a series of studies called Women of the Bible.

Elizabeth’s story has much to teach us about God’s grace in the face of our own disappointments. I hope you’ll get a copy of this new study today. Here’s how: go to ReviveOurHearts.com and make a donation of any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. We’ll send you the Elizabeth study as our way of saying "thanks."

Revive Our Hearts operates on the generous support of listeners like you, so with your gift today you’re helping us produce new biblical resources, such as more studies like the Elizabeth study. So, ask the Lord what amount He wants you to give today. Then visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1–800–569–5959 and ask for the Elizabeth study.

Tomorrow we’ll continue to look at the life of Elizabeth and see how she encouraged a teenager who needed a place to go after finding out she was pregnant. Please be back with us. Now, here’s Nancy to close in prayer.

Thank You, Lord, for the gifts of relationship and friendship and for the most beautiful thing about our friendships—being when we encourage each other to believe You and we encourage each other that what You have said is true. Even when no one else understands, no one else believes, we say to each other, “You can trust God to write your story.”

So thank You, Lord, for the beautiful picture of these two women, the beautiful women that you’ve placed in my life when I was a younger woman. And now, as an older woman, I just pray for the grace and the humility of an Elizabeth, to say, “How can I love well the younger women that You’re placing in my life? How can I celebrate and rejoice in what You’re doing in their lives? How can we all do that so that Christ may be honored? Because that’s what it’s all for, that’s what it’s all about. We pray in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is helping you believe in God’s promises. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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