Women of the Bible Podcast

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Elizabeth - Week 4: Hope for a Disappointed World

Season:  Elizabeth

Erin Davis: Welcome back to the Women of the Bible podcast! I’m Erin Davis, and this is season #1 on Elizabeth. We are going through the Elizabeth Bible study.

You are joining us, and we are in the Revive Our Hearts living room. I hope you are in some warm, cozy living room somewhere with some great friends who love the Word of God as much as you do. I hope there are snacks.

Meg Honnold: Some chocolate and coffee maybe? Brownies?

Erin: Somebody with a spiritual gift of hospitality really makes me want to study the Bible more. I hope there’s something warm to drink. I hope you have good friends nearby. Even if you don’t, I hope you are walking through the Elizabeth Bible study with us. I have some friends joining me who are walking through the Elizabeth Bible study with me.

If I were teaching this in my living room, we’d have a quirky question. So my quirky question this week is not that quirky. I want to know your favorite color. I feel like that tells us something about your personality.

Meg: It's supposed to, doesn’t it?

Erin: Let’s start out with your name and your favorite color.

Meg: My name is Meg. I was always a “pink” girl. But lately . . . I don’t know if it’s just season of life, but it’s olive green. It’s the color my sister’s going, “Don’t buy any more olive green stuff because you’re going to be all olive green!” So I actually managed not to wear it today. But that’s my color right now.

Alejandra Slemin: There’s a hint.

Meg: There is a hint, but it’s pretty neutral.

Erin: She has excellent taste.

Meg: If I’m dressing like your granny, I’m a wise woman!

Alejandra: My name is Alejandra, and I love blue.

Erin: Is that because you grew up on the beach?

Alejandra: I grew up on the beach, so any shade of blue I love.

Erin: Does your house have a lot of blue in it?

Alejandra: My house doesn’t have a lot of blue. I have a lot of green—olive green, actually! We live in the mountains. So blue doesn’t go so well.

Erin: Our listeners can look up [online] for more information on all of us. But you lived in the Dominican and now you live in Canada.

Alejandra: Exactly. So in Canada we have gray skies—at least where I live on the West Coast. But in the Dominican, as soon as you wake up, the sky is bright blue. You go to the beach and it is turquoise and different shades of blue as you look at the ocean.

Erin: That’s where we need to have the next Women of the Bible podcast!

Alejandra: I'd do it! Let’s go!

Erin: I’m Erin Davis, and I’m the content manager at Revive Our Hearts, and my favorite color is yellow.

Alejandra: Yellow . . . I love yellow roses.

Meg: Yellow is the happy color. Sunshine.

Alejandra: I used to have a yellow kitchen . . . really bright.

Erin: I did too. I regret that.

Meg: But you think, “It’s light. It’s happy. It’s cheerful.”

Erin: I accidentally painted my whole house purple. I was trying for a gray tone, but somehow it went real bad. My husband was painting and he said, “She’s painting the whole house purple.”

So . . . we’re not here to talk about paint colors, or colors in general. We’re here to talk about Elizabeth. I hope you’ve been walking through the study with us. All of Elizabeth’s story is contained in just one chapter of the Bible. It’s Luke chapter 1. It’s a quick read.

We don’t often think about Elizabeth in terms of disappointment, but that’s what we are looking at her for in this study. We know Elizabeth faced primarily the disappointment of infertility for a lot of years.

I know there are going to be women listening to this podcast that have that exact same kind of disappointment. They are really going to identify with Elizabeth.

But she also has a husband who comes back from work and can’t speak any more. He can’t tell her why. So she’s got a husband that’s not what she expected. I can relate to that, right?

Alejandra: My husband’s perfect.

Erin: Your husband’s perfect?

(lots of chatter, laughter)

My husband’s perfect in every way, but he doesn’t like Mexican food. I’ve told you that.

Alejandra: That’s okay.

Erin: He doesn’t drink coffee.

Alejandra: That’s okay too. I don’t either. And we’re still perfect. (laughter)

Erin: So she has a husband that’s not who she expected. We can identify with that. She has a family planning situation that’s not what she expected. She could be disappointed in what she thought her life would be.

So in that one chapter we see multiple layers of disappointment. And, aren’t our lives like that? If we could take the time to talk about where each of us is facing specific disappointments and we could list them, we would find lots of layers of disappointment for us. So we see in Elizabeth’s life some of that gets remedied, and some of it doesn’t. 

So this session of the Bible study is hope for a disappointed world. And, we are in a world that is disappointed.

Alejandra: We’re out there. It’s not like just you and your family seeing it. But there are expectations that people have, and there are spectators that are watching your every move on how you handle a situation.

Erin: We did some informal polling in writing the study and preparing for this podcast. One thing we heard a lot, and was articulated especially among young women, is that their social media feeds are a source of disappointment.

Meg: I was just going to say the same thing.

Erin: And they know better.

Meg: And in disappointment, one of the best things I think you can do is stay away from it. Because disappointment starts to feel like your identity very fast.

I’m sure Elizabeth wrestled, “I can’t have a baby. That’s who I am.”

Then when you’re faced on top of that with the expectations of social media and how it should look and how you should present yourself, it makes it so much harder.

Erin: You can feel pretty great about your outfit and hair until you start scrolling. Then you go, “Ohhh . . .”

Alejandra: Close the picture!

Erin: You decorate your home and you feel like, “This looks really great.” And then, unfortunately, because of our constant access to everybody else’s home, we can feel like, “Oh, I missed it.”

Meg: And, you see their homes on the best day and at the best angle.

Erin: So I think we are in a culture of disappointment, and we are, I think, ambassadors of hope. And Elizabeth gives us that example.

The Scripture memory passage for this week was Romans 5:5. I’m going to read it to us. It’s such a great anchor. The CSV version says it this way:

“This hope will not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Sure, we may face disappointment in every other sphere of life. But the hope of Christ—it will never disappoint. It will never fail us.

I was travelling recently. I’m a heads-down traveler—earbuds in. I don’t want to talk. It hurts my neck. I was trying to put out that vibe. And the woman next to me didn’t pick up on the vibe. She started talking to me. She told me this really horrific story about this deep pain that her family was going through. I didn’t know what to say. It was so horrific that it sort of stole my words out of me—which is saying something because I talk a lot.

So I said this to her, “Are the promises of God true?”

And she said, “Every single one.”

She was experiencing a hope that does not disappoint. In a hopeless situation, she was experiencing a hope that does not disappoint. I’ve thought of her so many times.

In contrast, what messages do you think . . . (we talked about social media) what messages do you think the world teaches about hope? Or disappointment? Or how to find hope in disappointment? Or how to find relief in disappointment? What other messages are we hearing other than there is a hope that does not disappoint?

Alejandra: “Fix it yourself. You have the power to overcome whatever comes your way. You have the power within yourself to fix it. You can follow these steps and you will make it through.”

Also, I think as women, it encourages us a lot to compare ourselves. “What does she do to have that body? What does she do to have that husband? What does she do to have that job?”

We tend to click “follow” buttons on Instagram just to go see those things and feed off of it. You think you are actually doing those things because you are looking through it. So I think it’s that challenge that you can do it on your own or by looking at someone else and comparing yourself to them and dressing like them, then you might become “that.”

Erin: Meg and I live in the same town. So we get to have coffee together pretty regularly. We’ve had a lot of conversation . . . Meg, you’re twenty-two. We’ve had a lot of conversation about how you feel you’re being discipled by Instagram in some ways, and how discernment is something that is difficult for you. There are messages coming at you constantly.

Let’s pretend we are back at our favorite coffee shop. You like Starbucks. Let’s have that conversation for our listeners about your awareness of the challenge of discernment.

Meg: I think it comes down to that we have access to information everywhere. The bottom line is, every day I can access a thousand opinions at a click of a button. What I think my generation is not being taught along with that is, “How do you filter that with discernment? What do you allow to sink into your heart? What do you send on its way?”

I think for myself I’ve seen that struggle in my marriage. If we are really struggling in a certain area, or if we are floating along and things are wonderful, but then . . . I read an article, or I see a blog post about, “You should be doing this with your husband,” or “If you were really a godly couple you would be doing Bible studies this way, or you’d be going through this book.” That’s when I start to go, “Oh, I must be doing it wrong. I’ve got to take action. I’ve got to fix this.”

Erin, you are always good to point me back to Word of God. That is the filter I must be returning to because that’s the only way I know, “What does God’s Word tell me? Is this article in line with that? Or is it extra?” But then, what do you do with the extra?

There’s a lot of good information out there. There’s so much good “extra,” so how do you discern what is really good to allow into your heart?

Alejandra: That’s the bigger problem. We have so much information on one thing. Sometimes we are exposing ourselves. It’s not necessarily that certain articles are good or bad or that certain information is useful.

In Revive Our Hearts we have a lot of information that is very useful, and that’s a good thing for women. Now, if you try to read it all at once . . .

Erin: It’s like drinking from a firehose.

Alejandra: Exactly. We’re not prepared for that.

Meg: And it’s mindless, too. We’re not necessarily using that filter. We’re just taking it all in.

Erin: Or we misapply it sometimes. I turn to it for stress relief, or when I’m bored. Life is hard. Relationships are hard. I want to be numbed.

Instead of saying to the Lord what we talked about in an earlier session, “I wouldn’t choose this, but I embrace it,” or asking the Lord to help you see it through His eyes, or praying for Him to be glorified, I just want to numb it.

Meg: I don’t want to think about it.

Erin: I don’t see that bearing any fruit in my life. I think one message that really concerns me, and I’ve seen it in lots of places to women: “You are enough.” You mentioned it in another way of saying, “You have it within you. You can fix this situation. You can remedy it.”

The idea that I’m enough to stand between me and disappointment? . . . I’m not. To handle disappointment with grace? I’m not. Or, I’m enough to minister to others in their disappointment? I’m not.

I am weak and broken and desperately in need of Jesus. I need that hope that doesn’t disappoint that we just talked about to remind me of that.

Alejandra: That’s huge, because we will take it on ourselves to be the perfect person so that the world can see Christ.

Meg: “That’s how I represent Him, by doing it all right.”

Alejandra: The cleaner home, the perfect kid . . .

Meg: Handling this with grace . . . I will not complain.

Alejandra: We can put that extra pressure on ourselves. Sometimes we lack the vulnerability, and we’re not showing the gospel. The gospel came through the pain. That’s how the world will see it. The gospel came to bring the love and the forgiveness. Sometimes I think we bypass those details just to get to the point of standing strong, being well, and proving something.

Erin: The gospel is a two-sided coin. One side of the coin is the sin. It is the brokenness. It is the suffering. It is the death. Until you see that side of the coin, when you flip it over and see Christ’s redemption on our behalf, then that makes sense.

I think you are right. We want to fast-track through the hard. The Bible calls us ambassadors. In multiple places in Scripture we are to represent Christ. We are to be ambassadors of hope. We want to embrace that call.

Alejandra: Ambassadors of Christ. We represent Him. Sometimes I can be an ambassador of myself and of my plan for my life. “How do you get to have three children . . . well, let me tell you. This is how you do it.”

Erin: These are the steps.

Alejandra: “This is what we did and how it worked for us. Now we have a beautiful family.” No . . . why don’t we point to Christ? Why don’t we understand that? I am an ambassador of Christ and what that brings into my life.

I think the more we understand that, wow, the deeper it goes. This is huge! This has to take over every area of my life. I need to portray Christ, not my name.

Meg: Well, in that chapter of Luke, it goes on to say that after she [Elizabeth] has John, the people come and say, “Oh, the Lord had mercy on her.”

I love that Elizabeth was not an ambassador of hope by going around and saying, “I had the baby! I’m on the other side. Didn’t I do awesome?”

Alejandra: “I prayed so hard. I stayed faithful.”

Meg: That’s not how she was sharing it. She shared it in such a way that people said, “The Lord had mercy.”

Alejandra: And the name . . . She could have chosen another name. But telling people this is the name because this is what the Lord said. And she went with it.

Meg: We only see Elizabeth’s exact words three times in the text. All of them, except for the naming of John, she says, “the Lord.” So any time she’s talking, she’s talking about the Lord. When she’s talking about the naming of John, she’s being obedient to her husband because she trusts her husband is being obedient to the Lord.

It’s one of those women—and I have some of those in my life—it doesn’t matter what they are talking about, they are talking about the Lord. They are talking about the Lord when they are telling you about their Thanksgiving. They are talking about the Lord when they tell you about their plans for vacation. They are talking about the Lord when they talk about going to the grocery store. It’s just who they are. It’s the fabric of their being. Those are ambassadors for Christ. Those are ambassadors for hope.

Alejandra: And He’s the one that will bring that to the world. It’s Him coming to the world.

Meg: I don’t bring the hope!

Alejandra: Exactly! My world can just pop like a balloon, and all hope goes. But because of Him we have that hope that we talked about in Romans 5.

Erin: A hope that does not disappoint. And that’s how we are ambassadors of hope to a hopeless world.

Sometimes I need to be reminded of how dark it is out there to those who do not yet know Christ—those who are trying to navigate the same disappointments as us.

Alejandra: But without the hope.

Erin: Without the hope. Just how crushed they must feel all the time! And, how I’m an ambassador of hope to them is not by pretending I don’t face disappointments. How I’m an ambassador of hope to them is in the midst of my disappointments I worship the Lord.

We’ll talk about that in a future session, about how we are people of praise. We’ll bring these sacrifices of praise, even in the midst of disappointment. They need that.

Scripture tells us that we should always be prepared to give the reason for the hope that we have. Sometimes I can get nervous about gospel conversations.

We were travelling as a family recently, and we were at an aquarium. This sweet, little buddy who wasn’t mine, I’d say he was ten or eleven, was next to me. He knew every fish in the tank. He was saying, “That’s a this kind of shark, and that’s a that kind of shark.”

So I said, “Who do you think made all those sharks?”

He said, “Well, Jesus, of course.”

So it was a really sweet gospel conversation. But it was me trying to be obedient to that call to always be ready.

Alejandra: And be available.

Meg: And he was ready with his answer, too.

Erin: He was ready to share Jesus. I probably would have faltered if it had devolved from there. I think we can get nervous talking about Jesus. I get stage fright a little bit. I get worried that I’ll get garbled with the verses, that I won’t get through the Romans road well.

Scripture doesn’t say to memorize the Romans road. It doesn’t say to wear one of those bracelets with the beads and memorize those things . . . even though those are good things.

Alejandra:But it does say to start with your neighbors, love your neighbors.

Erin: Yes. And just be ready to have a conversation about hope. So when that neighbor comes to you and they are defeated, and they will . . . Or you see that woman out and about and she is having a rough day . . . Or it’s the coworker in the cubical beside you that doesn’t know the Lord, I hope you are laying a foundation of prayer.

But that moment that they need hope, you’ve got it. You’ve got what they need.

Alejandra: Even if you are going through disappointment yourself.

Erin: Especially.

Alejandra: That’s a huge difference than to take your disappointment and think that I have to keep it to myself. I have to share this and comfort other people, even if I’m not feeling so well, reach out and hug that person. Do something for that person that is actually practical. Do for them when you would like someone else to do for you.

Meg: I think we are afraid because we think that hope has to be this fluffy, cheerful rainbow idea. But I think more often than not, it’s listening, and doing, like you said, that practical thing of, “Hey, I made you dinner tonight.”

Then you have the opportunity to share the deep hope. But it doesn’t have to look like . . . You’re just bring them up to cheer them.

Alejandra: Or bring them to church, or get them to the Bible study. Start with serving.

Erin: I’m a compassionate maker. I’ve found that there are few things that cinnamon rolls can’t help. “Here’s some cinnamon rolls. I’m praying for you.”

Meg: That’s how I see hope.

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About the Teacher

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: 7 Feasts, Connected, Beautiful Encounters, and the My Name Is Erin series. She serves on the ministry team of Revive Our Hearts. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

Women of the Bible