Women of the Bible Podcast

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Elizabeth - Week 1: Righteous but Waiting

Season:  Elizabeth

Erin Davis: Hi, I’m Erin Davis, and we are so excited to launch the brand-new Women of the Bible podcast!

Who loves podcasts? All of the above. Me, too!

When I’m doing dishes I’m listening to a podcast, when I’m doing laundry I’m listening to a podcast, when I’m in the car.

So we are thrilled to be rolling out the Women of the Bible podcast. This season is all about Elizabeth.

We find Elizabeth’s story in one little chapter of the Bible. But I feel like she has so much to tell us.

So welcome to a version of my living room where we are discussing the Elizabeth Bible study. And the theme of this Bible study is: dealing with disappointment. It’s kind of a universal theme.

I want to introduce those of you who are listening to some friends of mine. In fact, I’m going to let them introduce themselves . . . because their names are a little bit hard to pronounce, and I don’t want to butcher it.

Let’s pretend it’s the first night of Bible study. Do you get the first night of Bible study jitters? (several “yeses”) I do, too. Every time I get the first night of Bible study jitters, but then I’m always so glad.

So it’s the first night of Bible study. Let’s introduce ourselves. Here’s my Bible study tip. When I’m teaching Bible study, I make everyone share their favorite breakfast. So . . . Erin Davis . . . Lucky Charms. Go ahead . . .

Asheritah Ciuciu: Asheritah, and I would have to say, breakfast burrito.

Erin: A breakfast burrito. Eggs.

Asheritah: So I make them myself—scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, different cheeses, then rolled out the tortillas and put cream cheese on them. Roll them up and put them in the freezer. So it ready for grab 'n go.

Erin: Yum. Please move next door.

The first week of school I did that. We froze all these breakfast burritos . . . and that was going to be the year.

Jaquelle: For the whole year?

Erin: Well, that was going to be the year I was going to be disciplined about breakfast. We did it one time. Lucky Charms is where we are at at my house. Alright, next?

Alejandra Slemin: My name is Alejandra, and I like fruit and tea for breakfast.

Erin: Fruit and tea. You’re being healthy.

Alejandra: That’s when I am in Canada. When I’m in the Dominican Republic I’ll have eggs, mangu, fried cheese.

Erin: What’s mangu?

Alejandra: Oh, I’ll explain it to you later.

Erin: This is exactly how Bible study would go at my house. We would spend an exorbitant amount of time talking about our favorite snacks before we would talk about God’s Word. You’re up next.

Jaquelle Crowe: I’m Jaquelle, and my favorite breakfast is probably granola. I like to make homemade granola because it is super easy.

Erin: It is really easy.

Jaquelle: And it’s really delicious.

Erin: So we’ve got some variety. I’m the only one who eats high fructose corn syrup. But I do have a bunch of boys.

So we’re looking at the life of Elizabeth. I don’t know if you would necessarily think of Elizabeth as the poster child for disappointment. But I think if we try and look at her story in Luke 1 through that lens, we’ll actually see that she has a lot to teach us about this topic of disappointment.

We all know what it’s like to face disappointment. We represent different ages and seasons of life in this study.

Elizabeth is an unexpected poster child, like I said. But we know from the text that what disappointments did Elizabeth face?

Alejandra: She was barren.

Erin: She was barren. Even the Scripture tells us that she was what? Advanced in years. That’s the Bible’s way of saying . . .

All: She was old!

Erin: I just had a baby at the ripe old age of thirty-eight. The doctor kept telling me I was having a geriatric pregnancy.

Alejandra: After thirty-five that’s what you are called.

Erin: That’s what they were saying about Elizabeth. She was barren. So year after year after year after year after year. We would have to be reading in the text some to assume she wanted a child. But year after year after year of barrenness.

We do know that they had prayed for a child. The text tells us that.

We also know that Elizabeth served the Lord faithfully, and yet, had unfulfilled longings.

So, just like it happens with women in my actual living room, we would go from talking about our favorite breakfast, and we would get serious all of a sudden and talk about the deep heart longings that we all face.

I wonder if any of you would be brave and talk about some of the unfulfilled longings you have faced, or maybe that you are facing right now.

Alejandra: You have unfulfilled longings. I find from her case, being from a Levitical home—meaning, doing everything right and then getting the wrong results. To me that’s the worst kind of disappointment because you feel . . . Like in my case, I married the right way, and I thought it was going to go so well. Then you find this wall of troubles and things you have to work through. Then you think, Where is God in this whole thing.

So with disappointment, you’re dealing with your current circumstance. She was dealing with the situation of not having a child, but also maybe with the thoughts of: I think I did it right, and how come this didn’t turn out in the right way. I came from a good family. How come I got this wrong?

So I think that is probably the hardest struggle for me as I face anything. Like, I thought I had it all together.

Erin: But you’re still disappointed.

Alejandra: Exactly.

Erin: I didn’t know it until this Bible study, but Elizabeth comes from a ministry family. Her dad was a Levitical priest. All through the generations. We can trace her family has faithfully serving the Lord.

Alejandra: And she married someone who was also a priest.

Erin: Someone who we would say is in the ministry. She goes on to have John, who we would say is in the ministry. So this is a ministry family. There’s a long lineage of ministry in the family, a long lineage of serving the Lord, married right, and yet, there is this disappointment.

I love how you’ve framed it: I’ve done the right things.

Alejandra: Because that’s how we think when we’ve miscarried, or when someone has to face any situation in their marriage or with their child. I homeschool . . . he was supposed to turn out the right way. It’s unreal sometimes.

Jaquelle: I can relate to that a lot because most of the disappointments in my life that I have faced or am facing now are things that I have no control over. So it’s difficult to trust God in the midst of that when there is nothing I can do.

There are loved ones and friends that I desperately want to be saved. Yes, I can speak the gospel into their lives, but at the end of the day, I don’t have control over making them believe.

That’s the time when those unfulfilled longings are so difficult, because I’m someone who wants to do everything right. I’m the rule follower and the list maker. There comes a point where you just can’t make the lists or follow the rules to get what you want.

Erin: I’m fond of saying, if I could have done the right thing, I would have done it. If I could have said the right thing, I would have said it. And, I’ve done and said the things I should say, and there’s still no change? That is so hard where you come to that place . . . as we see that Elizabeth will come to that place where you back is against the wall and the Lord has to do it.

Asheritah: I’ve found that disappointments usually come out of expectations.

I have expectations that my children will be healthy, my marriage will be strong, that my family will stay together, that we’ll have financial security. When those expectations go unmet, that is when we invite disappointment to come.

Erin: Have you figured out how to not have expectations? Have you cracked the code?

Alejandra: She had the pressure to, because she came from the picture-perfect home, and then no children. And then her neighbors, too. Looking around and saying, “You did it the right way, and you have no kid?”

Asheritah: And there is something more too, I think. We’d have to go into the Old Testament to understand, but culturally, to be barren was to be shameful. It was considered that you had done something wrong. You are cursed by God to not be blessed with the fruit of your womb.

So Elizabeth was carrying this shame, this heavy burden of, why me? Like you said, “I’ve done it all right.

Erin: Cultural shame for our disappointments.

You should have a career . . . or not.
You should have kids in this timeline . . . or not.

You should have a happy marriage

You should homeschool . . . or not.

You definitely should choose this path . . . or not.

You should make these dietary choices . . . or not.

And . . . if you do, this will be the outcome. It may change, the nuances of it, but there is still shame for somebody attached to a season of disappointment.

Jaquelle: This is not original to me, but I’ve heard it said that: If I do these good Christian things, this is what the outcome will be. It’s kind of a prosperity gospel that we believe. If we obey God, He will give us what we want. And that is not how God works.

Erin: In fact, He warns of the opposite.

I’ve been walking through a season of disappointment in my own life. I was on staff in my church, and I loved the work. It was fruitful. But it became very clear through a number of circumstances that I needed to walk away from that position in the church and let somebody else take it. And I’m crushed. I’m still crushed, and it’s been two months now. I can just now look at the new person’s name in the bulletin.

I’m so disappointed because this was a good thing. Serving in my church was a good thing. Ministering to women in my church was a good thing. I thought I would be there for a much longer time that I was. Obeying the Lord, while right, has come with a season of, “Oh, that’s not how I thought this was going to look.”

Alejandra: But not all longings are wrong.

She wanted to have a child. It’s a God-given desire.

I guess it is what we do and how we allow those things to manage our emotions and take the place of God.

Thinking, If I had that job, I will be the ____. Or, if I have the child, I will be ___. Or, if I homeschool, I will ____.

Maybe thinking about how she surrendered to the Lord: Your will be done.

Erin: That’s a great point. I think there are a lot of longings that we have that would never be categorized as sinful or wrong or outside the will of God.

So that's another level of hurt. Jaquelle, you mentioned people you love and wanting them to come to Christ. You know from His Word that the Lord wants that too. That’s a good and righteous desire, and yet it is unmet, and that is disappointing. That can be really hard to take.

We talked about this some. I know that all of you are in ministry in various forms. I wonder how that lie of living a righteous life should exempt you from disappointment. How has that bubbled up in your lives? Does anyone have any stories or anecdotes of how you thought, Lord, I’m in ministry. I shouldn’t have to face this disappointment.

Asheritah: This is a long story, but I’ll try to keep it short. My family were missionaries in Romania to gypsies. We had ten years of fruitful ministry. We saw hundreds of people come to know that Lord. And . . . just a few years ago my parents divorced.

I had put my parents on this spiritual pedestal. But coming into my adult years and coinciding with the breakup of their marriage and recognizing that they are human. That disappointment of, we were doing this for the Lord. This was good. And yet, there was struggle there. It was hard.

I’ll say that this was and still is the greatest disappointing moment in my life. It was realizing that my parents are fallible . . . and really, we all are.

I look at my kids and think, I’m setting money aside for their psychologist. They will need counseling.

Erin: I’ve been saying a lot that I have brokenness fatigue right now. I know that I’m broken—boy, do I know that I’m broken. I know the people I love are broken. I know the world’s broken, and I know the culture is broken. And yet, I can’t quite get over the shock of that. Like, I keep thinking, Why is this so hard? Why is . . . whatever it is: marriage, extended family, work, parenting, or whatever . . . why is it so hard? I’m just worn out by the brokenness.

I wonder if Elizabeth experience some fatigue. I wonder if her first anniversary rolls and no baby . . . okay. Second year, third year, fourth year . . . We don’t have insight into how many years go by. We can make an assumption that it was many.

I think we can face disappointment for a little while, but when that disappointment is ongoing. In the case of, as you mentioned, a really fractured relationship, that pain isn’t going to heal quickly. That knot is not going to quickly untie.

I think disappointment can be harder to take as a long game, don’t you? When there is not an end in sight.

Alejandra: In my case, my dad when home to be with the Lord about three months ago after a battle with cancer for eight years. That is hard. I always tell my closest friends that the worst moments for me was going to be burying my dad or my mom. I used to tell my brother that I don’t think I can do that. That feeling that I’m going to leave them there.

I know many of us are dealing with the actual loss of a person in this life. You will not see that person again, and that’s hard. That’s the expectation. He was only fifty-seven years old. So you think, Wow, I wish he had been eighty. It makes more sense.

Erin: You’re grieving the future that you could have had with him. He’s the grandpa to your baby.

Alejandra: My mom is still young. That is hard. We still have our difficult moments. I’ve asked God, “Why?” People say don’t ask God, “Why?” But I’ve asked Him. "Why him? Why now?"

Personally, and this is kind of what I see in Elizabeth, maybe this is something she did too. I ask God.

So I think when you have the wrong question, bringing it to God makes a difference on how that disappointment touches your emotions and touches other people around you.

He answered me . . . why? . . . and how? It’s not out His hand. Getting that answer from Him really satisfied my hunger for knowing a reason why. Though I know I don’t deserve to know.

He’s probably looking at me and saying, “You know, I can just go like that, and you’ll be out too.” But no, He’s so kind and merciful. Bringing that disappointment to Him has been a huge difference for me in this season of grief.

Erin: I have to assume that you spent a lot of those eight years praying for healing.

Alejandra: Totally, totally. And fasting. We did everything we could. We were righteous, like it says they both were. In the sense of everything we could do to help him through it and to care for him. God gave me the blessing of being with him for three months before he passed in the Dominican Republic.

I even asked, “I did everything. I was with him. I was praying. The church was praying. He’s a pastor.” But wow! God meets you, and He’s like, “I’m God. He’s mine. I decide when he goes.”

Erin: I think there is real bravery in saying to the Lord, and of course, He knew what was in your heart. But there’s bravery in saying to the Lord, “I’m real disappointed in the way that You answered this one. You’re God. I absolutely believe that You are sovereign, but I would have chosen to answer this differently.”

We, of course, don’t know what conversations Elizabeth had with the Lord. But she was human, made of flesh like the rest of us. I think she was brave and said that.

Alejandra: I know the conversations I have and my friends have. I think we as women keep our disappointments too close to our hearts, and we pretend that everything is fine. We’re going through post-partum depression, but everyone comes to see the baby. And we’re, “I’m doing great.”

We’re good at that. We can keep the façade very well and not necessarily voice out what is really in our hearts of, “This is what I’m really struggling with.”

Erin: Does anyone else say, “I’m sorry,” when they cry? “I’m sorry; I’m sorry!” In contrast, saying, “Lord, I wish You would have answered this differently. I wish You had done this differently. I prayed. I fasted. I did the things. And I’m disappointed that my dad died.”

Jaquelle: When I was going through my family’s breakup, an older friend said to me, “When you cannot see the hand of God, trust the heart of God." I’ve held on to that when I felt, Where are You God? How could You allow that to happen? What is happening?

But the deep soul issue is that He is that, He is good. He is good.

I don’t know what He is doing. I still don’t know. There’s no pretty bow on this story. But I can trust that His heart is good, and it will be good.

Jaquelle: I think there is something true and beautiful and courageous in recognizing when we are disappointed about things that are not sinful. It’s right that we should see that they are not good. That we should see the death of a father, or a breakup of a marriage—that is a reflection of the Fall. That’s not the way things are supposed to be.

Erin: Don’t pretend that that’s okay.

Jaquelle: And when you look at Scripture, you see all these people who are wrestling with their own disappointments and recognizing the sovereignty of God, but they are hitting home that this is not how things are supposed to be. We are longing for Eden—all of us.

Asheritah: I’m so glad that there are the Psalms and Lamentations. When you look at what God allowed to be in Scripture, there are . . . David said, “Why have you abandoned me? Where are You? Don’t allow my enemies to overtake me.” You see David wrestling with God in a very submissive way. Yet, there is courage, like you said, that this is not right.

Erin: I have a sweet, sweet friend whose baby just died of cancer. In that process, I needed a prayer language. I didn’t have a prayer language. So I spent months in Lamentations. I said that I have to have a prayer language for this friend because I want You to heal the baby, but that doesn’t seem to be what is happening, so I need a prayer language.

That’s exactly what Lamentations is. “I’m disappointed about this. I’m devastated about this. I wish this was going to go a different way.” Except for, and in addition to that, the Lord is good, and the Lord is sovereign.

That became the way that I could talk to this friend and this way that I could talk to the Lord. There’s no doubt about the way that that story ended. It’s heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking forever for her.

But the sovereignty and goodness of God is a great way to talk about it.

You mentioned the Fall, and I think we can trace disappointment all the way back to Genesis 3.

The Lord hands down this curse. If you look at the curse, it’s a bunch of disappointments. Like, to the man, “You’re going to work really hard, and it’s going to feel really futile.” I think, What’s more disappointing than that? And to the woman, “Your desire is going to be to your husband, and he is going to rule over you.

You mentioned marriage. I did a little bit of formal polling of women to find out their areas of disappointment in marriage. It comes up over and over and over. Even good, godly marriages set up expectations.

So the curse, I think why it’s important to talk about disappointment is because we won’t escape it until Christ comes for us. But someday, that’s all going to be lifted! So I love the promise in Revelation 22. Let’s look at it—of Eden being restored and the curse being reversed.

Jaquelle, Would you read to us Revelation 22:1–5?

Jaquelle: Absolutely.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Erin: That’s the hope for disappointment. We see the tree—the same tree that we see way back in Genesis 3. We see Eden restored. And that right there, “No longer will there be anything accursed.” We could say, “No longer will you be disappointed, children of God.” Because, it is all going to be restored. That will get you through some disappointments.

I think we say sometimes, “Man, when I’m out from under this circumstance, it will be okay. Or, when this thing changes, it will be okay. Or, when this person changes, it will be okay.”

Alejandra: And that’s a lie. That’s the lure. Following your emotions to seek for comfort. That’s how we turn into workaholics or go to the mall every time we feel down, or go walk around and swipe that card again.

Erin: Sure! I’ve been so convicted of the Lord lately of my worship of comfort. I want to be in comfy clothes in my comfy home under a comfy blanket because I have that brokenness fatigue. And I think, If I can just get through this thing. If I can just get to the end of the day and on the couch, it will be okay.

Alejandra: But that’s not it.

Asheritah: Erin, I love that you took us to Revelation. My pastor’s been preaching through the book. We just got to chapter 22 this week. It was just incredible.

What stuck out to me was that in chapter 21, verse 3, where it says, “Behold the tabernacle of God is among men. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be among them. And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will no longer be any death. There will no longer be any mourning or crying or pain. The first things have passed away.”

Erin: That’s my favorite passage in all of Scripture.

Asheritah: How beautiful that God Himself will be able to wipe away every tear. He is a personal God that wants relationship with us. He is with us in our disappointments. He is right there.

Erin: The restoration of that, the redemption of that might not come. Your dad is not coming back. The restoration of that disappointment is coming then. It’s yet to come.

Alejandra: I think in the disappointment, it’s worked for me over and over, I think, Look up. You have to keep your eyes there. Because if you go too much there, or too much in, you can get in trouble very quickly because things might not be advancing, realistically, the way you want them to.

But I think for Elizabeth, just seeing how she responded, even to the fact that she became pregnant later. She looked up.

Just keep your eyes on the Lord, because then you can see the hope of Him coming back. And then you think, This world is not our home. So no matter what happens here, there will be a day where this will all be gone and all I’ll do is love Jesus and be with Him forever.

So I think if we just keep looking up, instead of in. In our society, they tell us . . .

Erin: . . . to look at others, or at our phone.

Alejandra: Yeah, you don’t have to go to the neighbors, you go to Instagram and stalk them a little.

Erin: If my life just looked like hers, I wouldn’t feel this ache.

Alejandra: There are very simple things, Erin. We women deal with weight issues, the amount of children you should have, the house you should live in, if you should buy a home or not.

Just talk to our husbands or fiancé or friends. They will tell us what we really struggle with if they are honest enough to say.

She says, “I have nothing to wear.” It’s like, “Her closet is full.”

So it’s just little things, but the way we handle those little things do bring the bigger picture for when huge disappointment do come through. But it is important that we keep looking up. Keep our heads and minds and hearts on following Jesus. The rest of the family will follow that example when they see Mommy looking up—even as she cries; even as she struggles, she’s still looking up.

Erin: I think that’s what we see in Elizabeth. We see a woman who has faced disappointment with hope. Looking forward in her case. She was looking for the Savior who was coming. She didn’t know how soon. She knew a Savior was coming as she faced disappointment with hope. That’s the kind of women we want to be.

Alejandra: Isn’t it fascinating that God kept her barren for that moment. It was not a minute later. God had a plan. If we look, it’s not out of God’s hand. He has a plan.

Erin: Up until the month. The calculation is she’s in her sixth month, and Mary’s having the Lord. Only the Lord could orchestrate it.

Alejandra: And He still does that with us, too!

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About the Teachers

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.

Asheritah Ciuciu

Asheritah Ciuciu

Asheritah is an author, speaker, and blogger. She grew up in Romania as a missionary kid and studied English and Women's Ministry at Cedarville University in Ohio. Her passion is helping women find joy in Jesus through a deeper walk with God, and she shares personal stories and practical tips on www.OneThingAlone.com. Asheritah is married to Flaviu and together they raise their spunky children in northeast Ohio.

Jaquelle Crowe

Jaquelle Crowe

Jaquelle Crowe is a twentysomething writer from eastern Canada. She’s a graduate of Thomas Edison State University and co-founder of The Young Writers Workshop. She is author of This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years (2017). You can find more of her writing at JaquelleCrowe.com.

Alejandra Slemin

Alejandra Slemin

Alejandra is a sinner who believed in Jesus at the age of seven in her native country, Dominican Republic. She is a wife and homeschool mom. She's passionate about Christ, studying the Scriptures, discipling, teaching, and learning alongside women. Currently, she supports her husband as he serves as a church planter in Victoria, BC, Canada. Alejandra loves herbs, designing headbands with her daughter, being outdoors, and serving her community.

Women of the Bible