The Heart of A Woman Bible study, based off of the promises found in Isaiah 54, is for every woman who has a place of barrenness, emptiness, lack of faith, or fear keeping her from experiencing fruitfulness in her life. If this is you, won’t you join us as we journey to a deeper more abundant life of faith together? The Heart of a Woman is all about finding the heart of the Father towards the daughters He lovingly calls His own. ©dawnboyer 2014 Journeys In Grace www.journeysingrace.com Originally published on Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood www.solideogloriasisterhood.com.
Restored Amidst the Trials
We are reaching our final weeks of this study, and this week we will focus on verses 15 and 16 of Isaiah 54. I hope that by now you have found pearls of wisdom into the passionate interest that your Father has for your precious heart. Each time I spend time in His Word, especially in Isaiah 54, I am further convinced of the depth of His love.
This week will be a little different as we study together. I want to spend time reminding you of how strong His love for us is when we are standing knee deep in a trial. We need to hear that friends, because it’s the times when we are battling the storms in life where we feel the most alone. We are called to rejoice in the trials for a few reasons. Firstly, it is that one thing that works out the patience which perfects us. Secondly, we are called to glorify God in all that we do. (1 Cor. 10:31) It is hard to praise God in the trials, but it isn’t impossible.
This week, I want to ask you to get real with yourself and come clean with the Lord. Tell him those things that you have been holding back and trust Him to hold them gently as He reassures you of His love. Over and over in this journey of walking with my God, I can most confidently say that He has always handled my heart with extreme care.
These verses from Psalm 27 lift me when my heart is hurt and my soul feels weak.
Psalm 27:1-5- The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear: The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though a host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his shelter, in the secret place of his tabernacle will He hide me; He will set me on high upon a rock.
Dear heart, no matter what we endure, we can trust that he is always GOOD. We can know that His heart is for us. In every situation where I may have doubted and wavered in my faith, He has come in like a flood and poured out His presence when I have sought Him. I am always drawn to the 4th verse: the one thing I seek, especially in the trial, to BEHOLD the Beauty of the Lord. The word behold is special here because in the Hebrew it is haza, which means to gaze at or to mentally perceive, to contemplate with pleasure. The idea of looking upon His face, knowing that I am not alone in the midst of the trial is enough to remember He is also carrying me through it.
That is my prayer for you this week as we start. I pray you will see that He has created you in beauty and splendor reflecting His beauty as you behold Him.
Our Scripture Focus this week will be Isaiah 54:15-16:
Behold, they may gather together and stir up strife, but it is not from Me. Whoever stirs up strife against you shall fall and surrender to you. Behold, I have created the smith who blows on the fire of coals and who produces a weapon for is purpose; and I have created the devastator to destroy.. – Isaiah 54:15-16 (Amplified Version)
We can Trust God.
We discussed the direction that verses 11-14 have taken us in the last few weeks, and just like in the previous sections we have studied, the verses are connected and help to define one another through application or revelation. Verse 15-16 is a further reminder of His sovereignty and our position of trust as we rest in the righteousness that His Salvation affords.
These scriptures remind us, that the God who created all things is still fully in control of all things. As women it is easy to be afraid. It is easy to come up with unrealistic fears and worries. My grandma used to say that worrying was in her genes and she just couldn’t stop it. I remember telling her that it was a sin to worry, her response was quick and to the point, “Easier said than done.”
It is a sin to worry, friends. When we worry, we are not trusting God.
He alone is our defender and we are not to fear the unfounded words, accusations, and judgments of others. In the words of my sweet Grandmother, it is easier said than done. But why?
Why do the words of others matter?
When we care more about the people, their opinions, and our place in this world we have created an unequal paradigm. People become big and God becomes little when that dynamic takes place. I was reminded this week, when my heart was feeling a bit anxious about an issue I simply had no control over, that I was putting too much weight upon the little things and not enough on the sovereignty of God. I was putting people above God in the situation and that was certainly an imbalanced equation.
God’s sovereignty is the security we have to bank our hope upon in the times when we are fearful, lost, or unsure.
Although God is in control of History, and nothing happens outside of that control, he is not a puppet master whose sovereignty requires that every event be individually initiated by him. –James Oswalt, Commentary on Isaiah
I think what Mr. Oswalt is trying to say is that trouble in our lives is not something that is meant to be a source of fear or frustration. We need to learn to TRUST the reliability of God through every season and trial. You see, His patience, which is immeasurable, allows cause and effect to have its course in our lives. His favor always trumps the anything else, especially in this present world we live in, because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)
Remember you are being built on a solid foundation.
There is something uniquely encouraging about the symbolism in this chapter. We have talked about tents and foundations and habitations and dwellings in the past 11 weeks because we need to remember that Jesus is the cornerstone of all that we are built upon. Isaiah 28:16 ties in nicely with the encouragement of Isaiah 54:15. It specifically says that God has, “laid a stone in Zion for a foundation stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation; he who believes (and adheres to that Stone) will not be ashamed or give way or hasten away [in sudden panic].”
Then Luke 20 takes it a step further.
And he beheld them, and said, ‘What is this then that is written. The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.’
This stone is a corner piece that juts out and is a ledge which can cause people to stumble if they are not looking. As we are built upon that stone we are bathed in the blessing of discernment and wisdom. It may cause them to look at us with question and even reproach, but we have been warned by Jesus that we are to expect trials and to expect the hard days. If we know this, then why is it a surprise that trials come?
You and I are a part of the planned future of the constructed City of God, yet individually, we are each a dwelling built up as a city of light to the world to influence those around us. Sometimes the trials are the effect of that foundation being a cornerstone of contempt to others.
It may feel like it is a lonely road, but only if we are looking at the emptiness that surrounds us not the fullness that is inside of us.
So, if we can see that the contempt and scorn of the world is a direct result of our relationship with God, then why don’t we rejoice? Fear of the world or what you think you need is foolish because God is our defense and very present help in the time of trouble.
The gift of being able to discern truth enables us to walk in the favor of God in unfavorable times.
Discernment is defined as the ability to know truth from falsehood, good from bad, or right from wrong.
Grace’s timetable is always different than my own. As a momma, I have learned I am a ‘fixer’. I want to make it all work out and smooth out those wrinkles that are creating waves in our lives. It doesn’t always work that way, though. We are told to expect trials, which is usually not a surprise to most of us. It is how we respond to them that reveal their effect on our lives.
Our response to the trials turns our dwelling place into a house of worship and adoration , or it fosters a feeling of bitterness, contempt and barrenness. The gift of discernment allows us to see the truth and to make the choice to rest in grace … to trust in His grip.
His promises are true and reliable.
- We aren’t promised a life without tears but we are promised His presence in our pain.(Is 43:2)
- We aren’t promised a life without loss but we are promised comfort in our grieving.(Mt 5:4)
- We aren’t promised a life without hurt, but we are promised joy for our times of sorrow.(Is 35:10)
- We aren’t promised a life that is absent of dark colors, but we are promised beauty for the ashes in our lives.(Is 61:3)
- We are not promised material wealth and favor of the world, but we have been given clothing of praise for the weight of the heavy burdens.(Is 61:3)
His righteousness is the anchor of our security which enables us to withstand the attack of the enemy.
The Creator rules creation, so fear has no place in your heart.
God who is the creator of all things is fully able to wield the weapon of destruction away from us. The good and the bad will ultimately serve His purpose in this life. Though the fiery darts may advance upon us, the weapon of joy can divert their path.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds. Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ: – 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
Because we can attribute His sovereignty as royal rule in the world, Isaiah 54:15 takes on significant meaning. In this verse, specifically, Isaiah is saying that when people oppose you and create weapons of destruction, they are not of him. Like 2 Corinthians says, we are not always fighting flesh and blood but principalities, powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places. John 10:10 says, ‘The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that you would have life.’ God is able to protect you from criticism, and exalt you in righteousness. Let him be your mouthpiece.
The beauty of what he will do with our lives, even our trials, is to take this weapon of destruction and turn it about for His good. Will you choose to fear when you find yourself at the end of an arrow, or will you be able to trust His will for you in every circumstance? Trust God to reroute it and send it back to the sender, to turn order out of the chaos. Trust God to be your defender when you need one. Are you willing to let him transform your situation for His glory?
God can transform any situation in our lives, as my son would say, He is the biggest Transformer in town.
Let’s look to His word for direction when the day of calamity draws near this tent you have spread wide. Don’t be surprised when trials come… rejoice.
Beloved think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing has happened to you. But rejoice, in as much as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that when his glory shall be revealed, you may be glad with exceeding joy. If you are censured, reproached for the name of Christ, happy are you; for the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified. – 1 Peter 4:12-14
For our good and His Glory, trials perfect us in our weakness by allowing Him to be our strength.
Years ago when our daughter was enduring seizures on a daily basis, some days we lost count how many she had, I found myself on my knees struggling to hold on to the thin strand of hope that I was clinging to. I couldn’t understand what was happening and I didn’t know how to pray. I felt like a boat out on the ocean without an oar and a small but steady stream of water was flowing in. I was sinking.
I cried out to the Lord in those moments of grief and confusion; He spoke so clearly that it caused me to pause. Isn’t it great when we pause and consider what He is capable of doing? It was simple, quiet and plain, for His glory and our good. I was reminded of the story in John 9:1-40 when the disciples asked why the young man was blind. His answer reflected the sovereignty of God, I believe. Jesus said clearly, the affliction was allowed that God would be made known. He gave the reality of the hope that comes from abiding in Christ. We cannot fully understand the reasons behind the decisions of God, nor do we have a right to fully question Him in those, but we can know that the outcome will always be full of healing and praise to the Father.
Jesus healed that man that very day, but before he healed him, he made it clear that this circumstance, the trial, wasn’t because of anything this man or his parents had done. God used it to reveal something beautiful about Himself. He is fully in control of our days and He is capable to make a miracle of mud and spit by opening our eyes to see truth for what it is… His.
Friends, whether or not my daughter sees complete relief of her seizures this side of heaven is not the issue. It is whether or not she will see His hand applying the salve of grace upon her life in those trials. He has not left our side through the difficult moments so I will still offer praise. Will you still praise God if your circumstances don’t look the way you want?
As His heir we share in the inheritance: the blessing and the suffering.
I was told once that we were blessed because we were allowed to know a measure of the suffering of Christ. At the time, I didn’t feel blessed. Even now, I am not sure I can equate our trials with anything that He endured for my sin. I do know the peace of His presence in the trial. That is exactly what Isaiah 54:15-16 tell us in full array with some beautiful promises included. Let’s look at another verse that touches on our role as heirs of God.
And if we are [His] heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His inheritance with Him]; only we must share His suffering if we are to share his glory. The sufferings of today do not compare to the glory to be revealed in us! – Romans 8:17-18
Though we may see the storm clouds gathering and the massive winds howl, we can know it is not from His hand that we experience wrath. He is gracious, plentiful in mercy, and slow to anger.
Verse 15 tells us that those who rise up against us bringing strife will ultimately surrender to us. The Hebrew words together here are napal and al, their implication together is what I have found exciting in this verse.
Though the trials, strife, and condemnation are not of God, the way we handle it, the way we glorify Him is like mud on the eyes of the strife-gatherers. (These are those people that are consistently gathering up strife in our lives and causing us to remember what grace really means.)
- Look at the end of verse 15: Whoever stirs up strife against you shall fall and surrender to you.
This text has many translations, but each of them ends with the strife-gatherer discerning truth and finding hope. They end up being on your side because the hope of heaven is to reach the hearts on earth; it is His desire that men know Him. You see, every trial we go through is an opportunity for us to praise Him and draw every eye that is watching us upward to the one whose face we are beholding and desire to see.
As verse 16 goes on, we are reminded that the Creator controls creation. Though there is loss and there is pain, we can still rejoice because He has prepared a way for Hope. Remember the word Behold in the first verse I shared. In that verse it means to gaze, but here it is the preposition hen in Hebrew, which is translated ‘if’. If this happens then you only need to look to the outcome. God has it under control.
Adon, Sovereign LORD, is fully able to handle all we give Him, and more.
He is Adon in Hebrew meaning LORD and Jehovah, completely sovereign and able. He is fully in control of all we place firmly in His hands and even that which we don’t have to give. What he is asking us this week is why we are holding anything back, what do we have to lose to give it all to God?
This week is a bit of a different focus from the previous week’s studies. I want to really challenge you to consider the beauty of your trials and the preciousness of your tears. Not for one moment do I think that your pain is caused by God, nor do I rejoice that you have felt any hurt or loss. I wish I could wrap my hand around yours and look close in your heart to tell you this very real truth. Not one hurt was wasted in your life. He will make a beautiful purpose out of it all.
If we let him, He will take us on a journey to joy-filled living in the midst of every trial. When we see that truth, it will make all the difference in the world.
You see He is present with us when we need grace, feeling our pain, and drying our tears. He has not left you to endure, but He has gifted you to stand strong and rise tall. One of my favorite verses is in Micah 7:8 – Rejoice not over me my enemy, when I fall, for I will arise, when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light to me.
In His mercy He returns to us in all our trials and He meets us where we are, supplying our provision out of His abundance. Though at times it feels as if he contends long, he will not contend always. He will give a reprieve, and when that happens we will be able to look back and see His hand of grace and mercy upon us through the hardest, darkest moments. Through this we learn to praise Him sooner in the trial.
Rise up Woman of God. You are called to be strong and to rejoice in every trial, but you were never expected to do it alone. You are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses urging you on, run your race with steadfast persistence which is appointed to you, looking away from everything that distracts you to Jesus who is the author and finisher of your faith, though you are in a trial know that you are loved and cherished in the heart of the Father. (adapted and inspired from Hebrews 12)
I am praying for you this week. Please feel free to share any prayer requests at [email protected] or in the comments section.
Blessings In Christ,
Author, writer and speaker, Dawn is passionate about many things: God, Family, Prayer, Food, and the Word. You can find her writing about those hard questions, reasoning and rejoicing in God’s grace and mercy for those who are walking this journey to grace on her website, Journeys In Grace.(/the_heart_of_a_woman_bible_study_week_13_restored_to_produce_a_harvest/www.journeysingrace.com) Download this week’s worksheet here: Week 11 Worksheet Restored Amidst the Trial Linked to Journeys In Grace