Do You Fear Failure More Than You Trust God?

by Shadia Hrichi

“Ha! We took bets on whether you could color outside the lines. The resounding answer was NO.” That was my friend’s response after seeing my first masterpiece.

I was home with the flu. My Bible study group kindly brought me groceries. Actually, they left the bag on the porch, rang the doorbell, and ran off. (Not that I blamed them). At the bottom of the bag, I found a “Princess” coloring book and crayons.

I laughed at those two items. However, by this time, I had been stuck in the house for over a week. Since it hurt my eyes to read, I began to color. But when I posted a finished drawing on social media, my friends teased me. We knew you’d never color outside the lines!

In my defense, I did add a cross on the Princess Sophia book. I decided it was time for the princess to meet Jesus.

Truly, I love my Bible study group. For weeks, they patiently listened to my frustrations regarding the Bible study I am writing:

“I just can’t seem to finish chapter five.”

“Why don’t you start working on chapter six?” someone asked.

“Because I want to finish chapter five.”

I like things to be done in order. It’s just wrong to write chapter six before finishing chapter five. Yet, they challenged me, “What if God has a different order in mind?”

I’ll admit it. I struggle for control. We all do. Perhaps in the workplace or relationships … even our health. But what if by clinging to our own way we miss something wonderful God has planned? What if all of this striving for control is precisely what keeps us from experiencing the Spirit-led life our hearts crave?

I’ve found that very often our struggles are not a control issue; they’re a trust issue. Control is an illusion. All of us are utterly dependent on God. Our very breath comes from Him. Stepping out in faith can be frightening. It may be a new ministry, marriage, trusting Christ for the first time (or writing a chapter out of order).

Do we trust God enough to “step out of the boat”?

As Jesus walked on the water toward his disciples, they were terrified. But when Peter recognized Jesus, he stepped out of the boat! Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus (Matthew 14:29 ESV).

We get so focused on verse 30, “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink…”that we forget how Peter had the guts to step out of the boat! If you and I really want a Spirit-led life, we’re going to have to get out of the boat (or color outside of the lines).

We must face our fears, which look different for each of us. Below are some fears I struggle with, along with the Truth I pray to overcome them:

“God, I am afraid that if I “step out of the boat,” You will not be with me.” Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20 ESV

“God, I am afraid of what people will think of me.” Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?” (Isaiah 2:22 ESV).

“God, I am afraid that I will look foolish.” Blessed are you when people hate you … exclude you and revile you … on account of the Son of Man! ” (Luke 6:22-23 ESV).

God knows we are fearful creatures. But when we follow His call—even after a time of resisting—he is faithful to receive us with open arms.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Shadia Hrichi is a passionate Bible Teacher who loves seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s Word. In addition to numerous articles, Shadia is the author of various Bible studies, including her latest study, TAMAR: Rediscovering the God Who Redeems Me, as well as LEGION: Rediscovering the God Who Rescues MeHAGAR: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Meand Worthy of Love: A Journey of Hope and Healing After Abortion. Shadia holds an MA in Biblical and Theological Studies, as well as an MA in Criminal Justice. Currently residing in northern California, Shadia regularly speaks at churches and women’s events and loves to visit the ocean each week for ”a date with Jesus.” Visit www.shadiahrichi.com

Join the conversation: Are you afraid to fail?

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Some Assembly Required

by Shadia Hrichi

“Everything at IKEA requires assembly. I bought a pillow; they gave me a duck.” –Todd Glass

When I became a Christian at the age of 30, I truly had a ‘scales falling off the eyes’ experience. I was driving to church one morning, just days after becoming a believer and nearly drove off the side of the road when I noticed a beautiful flowering tree. Of course, I had seen the tree many times before – but previously, I did not know God as Creator. I was instantly awe-struck in seeing the world through new eyes. What I once viewed as a cosmic accident suddenly came to life. Though it was a day I will never forget, not everything about me was transformed that day. In many ways, I still looked like a duck. Certain things take more time. There was still “some assembly required.”

Many people have the misguided notion that becoming a Christian means that God instantly transforms us. That we instantly embody all of the compassion, self-control, and sacrificial love as our Lord Jesus. Then, when we fail (and we will), the world uses us as an excuse for dismissing Christianity as a hoax. But there is a difference between becoming a citizen of God’s glorious Kingdom and cooperating daily with His Holy Spirit to live it out.

“Therefore, my beloved … work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).

While the Holy Spirit indwells all believers (1 Corinthians 3:16), God, in His sovereign wisdom, chose for us to remain in our sinful flesh in a sinful world, at least for a short time, to be His agents in a fallen world. And who are we to question His wisdom? I, for one, am thankful for all of the people throughout history who struggled through life, sometimes making poor choices, yet God used them anyway. People like Abraham, Moses, and Esther, to name just a few.

When God chooses to use someone “with some assembly required,” the world takes notice. That is when we are perfectly positioned to introduce them to our Maker. And praise God that, when He looks at us, He sees us as a perfect reflection of His Son, both inside and out (Colossians 1:22, Ephesians 1:4).

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness from glory to glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Do you need a reminder of how precious you are in God’s sight? Check out Shadia’s Bible study, HAGAR: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Me.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Shadia Hrichi is a passionate Bible Teacher who loves seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s Word. In addition to numerous articles, Shadia is the author of various Bible studies, including her latest study, TAMAR: Rediscovering the God Who Redeems Me, as well as LEGION: Rediscovering the God Who Rescues MeHAGAR: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Meand Worthy of Love: A Journey of Hope and Healing After Abortion. Shadia holds an MA in Biblical and Theological Studies, as well as an MA in Criminal Justice. Currently residing in northern California, Shadia regularly speaks at churches and women’s events and loves to visit the ocean each week for ”a date with Jesus.” Visit www.shadiahrichi.com

Join the conversation: What changes has God brought about in you that better reflect His glory?

Walk With Me

by Shadia Hrichi

Let’s be honest: some days are just plain hard!

If you’re like me, serving God can be a great joy and privilege, but sometimes we make it too complicated. Imagine my surprise when God used a simple ice cream to teach me a valuable lesson.

I had been at my desk all day struggling to write the same chapter I’ve been wrestling with for weeks. I was praying, studying, confessing and crying out to God, It’s just too hard!

At one point I thought I sensed God say, “Let’s go for a walk.” However, since I wasn’t sure, I dismissed it. Besides, it was hot outside. Instead, I stayed at my desk, papers and notes and my Bible spread out everywhere. By now, I was trying to suppress the nervous energy causing my legs to bounce incessantly. Then I heard it again, “Let’s go for a walk.”

When the Spirit nudges you once and you’re not sure, God is gracious. The second time, it’s best to take notice.

So, I put on my sneakers, and just before heading out the door, I remembered that I needed eggs. I was planning to bake treats for my Bible study group on Tuesday night. There was a drug store a few blocks away. I almost never take money with me when I go for a walk. This time, I grabbed my wallet and walked out the door. I headed toward the park as I usually do, talking and walking with God. (Not talking out loud, of course, lest I scare the neighbors).

That’s when I saw it. An ice cream truck was parked up ahead at the corner by the playground. I couldn’t even remember the last time I bought an ice cream from a truck. Just the fun of actually standing in line with the kids to buy an ice cream started to lighten my mood.

As God and I continued walking and talking, me eating my ice cream, I marveled at how pausing to enjoy such a simple treat could make such a big difference in one’s day. It was then that I sensed God say, “You see; it doesn’t have to be so complicated.” And I knew exactly what He meant.

I had been wrestling with a lot of heavy theology, and in doing so, I was losing focus on the heart of the lesson: the delightful treasure; the sweet spot. Only later did I realize the added irony that the lesson I was writing begins with God’s command to Abraham, Walk with me (Genesis 17:1 ). What a simple, but profound, invitation! Though Abraham had “stumbled” 13 years earlier by using Sarah’s maidservant, Hagar, to conceive a child, God knew Abraham’s heart.

To this day, for all who come to God with a humble heart, He gently nudges our spirit, “Come; walk with me.”

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:103 ESV

Adapted from of HAGAR: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Me, a Bible study by Shadia Hrichi. Copyright © 2017 by Shadia Hrichi. Published by Leafwood Publishers.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Shadia Hrichi is a passionate Bible Teacher who loves seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s Word. In addition to numerous articles, Shadia is the author of various Bible studies, including her latest study, TAMAR: Rediscovering the God Who Redeems Me, as well as LEGION: Rediscovering the God Who Rescues MeHAGAR: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Meand Worthy of Love: A Journey of Hope and Healing After Abortion. Shadia holds an MA in Biblical and Theological Studies, as well as an MA in Criminal Justice. Currently residing in northern California, Shadia regularly speaks at churches and women’s events and loves to visit the ocean each week for ”a date with Jesus.” Visit www.shadiahrichi.com

Join the conversation: Do you ever walk with God? What has He communicated to you?

What’s a Soul Worth?

by Shadia Hrichi

When I visited the county fair each year as a young adult, my favorite exhibit was always the pen of baby “piggies.” Just thinking back on them makes me smile.

We live in a culture that is nearly obsessed with animals. Pampered pets are everywhere. There are zoos to visit, not to mention animal movies, videos, and TV shows. In my leisure time, one of my top choices for video entertainment is nature documentaries. I’ve watched countless of shows on every kind of creature. I will simply never tire of marveling at God’s astounding creation.

It may not be surprising that some people have cast doubt on Jesus’s compassion when he allowed 2,000 helpless pigs to plunge to their deaths. The story is found in the gospels of Matthew, Luke, and Mark. Jesus had just sailed across the Sea of Galilee into Gentile territory with His disciples when a naked, crazed, demon-possessed man meets Him at the shore. Speaking through the man, the demons “begged Him not to command them to depart into the abyss” (Luke 8:31 ESV).

When we consider the power of Satan and his demons, it is almost comical that when we finally get a good glimpse into their behavior, we find hissing, cowering beggars. Picture the scene: after the demons realize that Jesus had not come to execute their final judgment—after all, it was “before the time”(Matthew 8:29 ESV)—and, because Jesus is forcing them to abandon their human host, the demons immediately look around for a new victim, for another opportunity to inflict chaos and torment on God’s beloved creation.

There on the hillside, a huge herd of pigs is leisurely grazing on grass, plants, roots, insects, and anything else it can find. Spying the pigs, the demons squeal with delight as they present Jesus with their request: “Send us away into the herd of pigs” (Matthew 8:31 ESV).  If they could not destroy the man, perhaps they could find a way to entice the entire town to curse God! After all, pigs were a lucrative business for the region’s rampant pagan sacrifices.

Jesus responds with a single word: “Go!” (8:32 ESV). All at once, the demons charge into the pigs, throwing the herd into a panic. Squealing in terror, kicking dirt and grass into the air, the pigs stampede right off the edge of a cliff, plunging to their deaths in the water below.

Pause here for a moment. Imagine that you are the demon-possessed man’s parent, child, or sibling standing nearby. For years, you have witnessed him living among the tombs, howling into the night, and cutting himself with stones. He was so violent that even iron shackles could not hold him. When the demons beg Jesus for permission to enter the pigs, how would you react. What would you say to Jesus?

God takes delight in all His creation (Genesis 1:31). The problem, however, with focusing on the loss of the pigs is that we lose sight of what matters most. If the man were our father or brother or son, we would be the ones begging Jesus to rescue the man, no matter the cost. And when He does, we would be so overcome with joy and gratitude that we wouldn’t even give the pigs a second thought. How could we, when a human soul created in God’s own image was just delivered from unspeakable torment? The reality is that Jesus is exercising the deepest compassion by declaring one lost man more valuable than two thousand pigs.

Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! Matthew 12:12 ESV

This article is adapted from Week Four of LEGION: Rediscovering the God Who Rescues Me, a Bible study by Shadia Hrichi. Copyright © 2019 by Shadia Hrichi. Published by Leafwood Publishers.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Shadia Hrichi is a passionate Bible Teacher who loves seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s Word. In addition to numerous articles, Shadia is the author of various Bible studies, including her latest study, TAMAR: Rediscovering the God Who Redeems Me, as well as LEGION: Rediscovering the God Who Rescues MeHAGAR: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Me, and Worthy of Love: A Journey of Hope and Healing After Abortion. Shadia holds an MA in Biblical and Theological Studies, as well as an MA in Criminal Justice. Currently residing in northern California, Shadia regularly speaks at churches and women’s events and loves to visit the ocean each week for ”a date with Jesus.” Visit www.shadiahrichi.com

Join the conversation: In what ways can we treat people as significant and valuable?

Are Generational Curses Biblical, and Do They Exist Today?

by Shadia Hrichi

The concept of generational curses originates in a handful of passages in the Old Testament. With one exception, these were written during the time of Moses and are specific to the nation of Israel. The passages often accompanied God’s warnings of ‘blessings’ for obedience and ‘curses’ for disobedience.

All but one of the passages appear in Exodus, Deuteronomy, or Numbers. One example is Deuteronomy 5:9-10 (ESV): “For I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

The passages all evolve around the sin of idolatry and rebellion against God. We see one other occurrence in Jeremiah. Here, the prophet is praying to the Lord and recounting these words in because Israel has once again rebelled against God. As a result, the people about to be taken captive by Babylon.

In short, the context of all of these verses:

  • surround the nation of Israel
  • involve the sin of idolatry
  • relate to the nation’s rebellion against God

It is this rebellion against God that would pass down to future generations. There would be consequences in the later generations because the people would be prone to repeat the mistakes of their ancestors and follow their example. That’s the curse; that’s the danger. Unless they repented.

At the same time, God was quick to forgive when His people cried out to Him in honest repentance. That’s God’s heart. Over and again God, in His mercy, delivered His people from judgment. Therefore, while it’s true that in Old Testament times, there was a risk of generational curse, it was limited to the nation of Israel and it was specifically in regards to the sin of idolatry and rebellion against God.

Over time, the concept of a generational curse twisted into the idea that current sins can be somehow blamed on a curse that took place within prior generations. This is wrong on several accounts. The first, I already mentioned: generational curses were specific to Israel and to their relationship with God. Further, the curse could be broken when the nation cried out to God in repentance.

For Christians today, the moment we are born again, we have been delivered from all sins – past, present, and future. This is because the price has been paid by the blood of our Lord. It does not mean that you and I will never commit sin or that we never have struggles. But because the Holy Spirit lives in us, the Bible teaches that we can actually choose not to sin (Romans 6:6). Even more, if we confess our sins, God is faithful to cleanse us and forgive us (1 John 1:9).

Of course, as we well know, family patterns of dysfunction, including addictions, certainly do exist. However, we want to be careful not to confuse these with a “curse” in the true, biblical sense of the word. God alone (whether directly or through his agents, such as a prophet) has the power and authority to invoke a “curse” on a person or people. It is important to keep this distinction in mind when referring to “generational curses” in order to avoid confusion or cause someone else to stumble.

In short, the belief that some past generational curse committed by some ancestor long ago must be called out and ‘denounced’ in order for us to be set free has absolutely no biblical support. In fact, Scripture teaches in Galatians chapter 3 that Christ became a curse for us when He went to the Cross. And if you belong to Him, when God looks at you, He sees His Son Jesus Christ.

What did Jesus say in His last breath? “It is finished.” And as a result, all the powers of darkness were forever defeated. Friend, there is no curse, generational or otherwise, that the power of the Cross has not already overcome.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Shadia is a passionate Bible teacher, author and speaker who has a heart for seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s Word. She holds a master’s in biblical and theological studies from Western Seminary and is author of several books and Bible studies, including LEGION: Rediscovering the God Who Rescues Me.

Join the conversation: Have you feared a generational curse has been passed down to you?

God’s Ways Are Not Our Ways

by Shadia Hrichi

I recently watched a documentary on the tragedy of the Midwest Dust Bowl. A man who lived in the area his entire life scooped up a handful of dirt and exclaimed to the reporter, “Look, it’s upside down!”

The farmers had stripped the tall, native grasses from the land, exposing the dense top layer of sand. Underneath, approximately 12 inches down, was dark, rich soil. They were deceived into investing their blood, sweat, and tears, harvesting the land by plowing too deeply into the soil. In effect, they turned it upside down. The results led to the most catastrophic man-made disaster in the history of the US. The reason? They had stripped the land of its protective God-given covering.

Sadly, to this day, we continue to make the same mistake. We have stripped our land of another God-given covering: His blessing and His presence. We’ve driven Him out of our schools, our courthouses, and our government. Have we forgotten that our government was founded by men guided by God’s principles?

What was once sacred is now reviled. What was once reviled is now celebrated. In effect, we’ve turned our world upside down.

They exchanged the truth of God for a lie. … Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. … Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. Romans 1:25, 28, 32 NIV

So here we are, in a world turned upside down. Yet God, in His mercy, still offers hope! And get this: the solution appears upside down! While every other religion places the demand for restitution on the sinner, only the God of the Bible places the burden of restitution on Himself.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 NIV

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Lamentations 3:22, 23 NIV

Thank you, Father in Heaven, for your protection and blessings. May we never forget that You alone are our refuge and strength. We praise You and thank You for the gift of Jesus, Who came into our upside-down world that He might show us the way home. 

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Shadia Hrichi is a passionate Bible Teacher who loves seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s Word. In addition to numerous articles, Shadia is the author of various Bible studies, including her latest study, TAMAR: Rediscovering the God Who Redeems Me, as well as LEGION: Rediscovering the God Who Rescues MeHAGAR: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Meand Worthy of Love: A Journey of Hope and Healing After Abortion. Shadia holds an MA in Biblical and Theological Studies, as well as an MA in Criminal Justice. Currently residing in northern California, Shadia regularly speaks at churches and women’s events and loves to visit the ocean each week for ”a date with Jesus.” Visit www.shadiahrichi.com

Join the conversation: How can we effect change in this upside-down world?

How Do You Satisfy the Desires of Your Heart

by Shadia Hrichi

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 ESV

What’s your favorite part of the day? For me, it’s the morning. I love sitting in the backyard with a steaming cup of fresh-brewed coffee, listening to the delightful chorus of singing birds. It’s where I enjoy reading my Bible and spending time in prayer. Recently, however, a persistent knocking caught my attention. It took me a moment or two to realize where it was coming from. A wooden utility pole is situated near the corner of my yard. At its top, a woodpecker was pounding on the dead wood for all it was worth. Knock, knock, knock . . .

Woodpeckers primarily eat bugs in living trees. I was curious why it was wasting time banging its head on dead wood, so, being the nerd that I am, I did some research. I discovered that, while there are various reasons, the best explanation is that they simply don’t know any better. To them, a tree is a tree is a tree.

But we are smarter than that, right? Well . . . Have you ever watched someone (or been someone) looking for fulfillment in the same old, dead places? Some poor choices are obvious. Such as drugs, alcohol, extramarital sex, gambling, being a workaholic, etc. I am ashamed to admit I’ve traveled many of these roads.

They all lure us with the same bait: the possibility of reward. It might be hitting the jackpot, chasing a drug high, or another career achievement. However, in the end, the satisfaction, if any, is short-lived. And the price we pay is often too high.

“There is a path before each person that seems right, but its end leads to death.” Proverbs 14:12 NLT

But before we judge, even the “do-gooders” can be susceptible. Many turn to “religion.” Religion in and of itself, with its good deeds and religious works, also leads to empty promises. It’s just another dead tree. Self-fulfillment simply cannot be satisfied with external activities, no matter how noble. Without transformation on the inside, these efforts quickly become exhausting.

What about you? What dead wood have you been beating your head against? Have you taken a close look at what’s really on the other side? I can assure you there are nothing but lies, empty promises, death, and dust.

Deep down, most of us desire the same things. We all long for purpose, unconditional love, and acceptance. These desires are healthy and good. We know this because God placed them within each of us. But He did this so that we would reach out to Him. He is the only One who can satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts.

So let’s stop chasing the world with its lies and empty promises. Let us run to our heavenly Father and surrender our hopes and dreams to Him. In turn, He will begin to transform us on the inside, satisfying our hearts to overflowing with His peace, presence, and love. Then, we can finally stop pounding our head against the wall (and stop knocking at dead trees).

Need some ideas to help breathe fresh life into your Bible reading? Get my FREE guide, “7 Simple Ideas to Refresh Your Quiet Times.” May the Lord bless you as you seek to grow closer to Him!

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Shadia Hrichi is a passionate Bible Teacher who loves seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s Word. In addition to numerous articles, Shadia is the author of various Bible studies, including her latest study, TAMAR: Rediscovering the God Who Redeems Me, as well as LEGION: Rediscovering the God Who Rescues MeHAGAR: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Me, and Worthy of Love: A Journey of Hope and Healing After Abortion. Shadia holds an MA in Biblical and Theological Studies, as well as an MA in Criminal Justice. Currently residing in northern California, Shadia regularly speaks at churches and women’s events and loves to visit the ocean each week for ”a date with Jesus.” Visit www.shadiahrichi.com

Join the conversation:  What dead trees have you knocked on for fulfillment in the past?

A Different Plan

by Shadia Hrichi

There is perhaps no mom more famous than Mary, the mother of Jesus. Though Jesus’s conception was unlike any other, like all moms, Mary most certainly had hopes and dreams for her child. What he would be like; how he would make a difference in the world.

But God’s plans likely were very different that Jesus’ mother.

God also had plans for Mary’s child. A plan that was in place from eternity past. Her child would suffer and die for the sins of the world.

Just as Jesus had a purpose that only He could fulfill, so did Mary … and so do you. In fact, God has a plan for every child He creates, and many times those plans look different than what we expected.

The reality is that even before a child is conceived in her mother’s womb, she is first conceived in the very heart of God.

When the call of God came to the prophet Jeremiah, the first words God spoke to him were a reminder that God was His Creator. “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” (Jeremiah 1:5) What an amazing truth! God knows each of us before we are even conceived. Every heartbeat is a testimony to God’s love.

However, for some, the news of a pregnancy is not always welcome. Rather than experiencing joy and celebration, some may find themselves full of fear and questions.

When I discovered I was pregnant at the age of 15, fear led me to make a tragic choice. For years, I suffered the fallout: more poor choices, suicidal thoughts, drug and alcohol abuse, and so much more. But then one day God opened my eyes to His great love and forgiveness.

God knows every soul suffering under the weight of tragic choices, yet His grace to forgive is greater still. “. . .though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18 ESV)

In fact, this is why Jesus came. Leaving His heavenly home to enter our world, Jesus didn’t take any shortcuts. He didn’t arrive as a grown man, but was conceived in a virgin’s womb, experiencing all the wonders of life as you and I know it. Roughly thirty years later, He fulfilled the mission planned before the beginning of time: to give His life as a ransom for our sins (Matthew 20:28).

And in doing so, He opened up the way for each of us to become all that God intended us to be! What a gift!

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead . . .” (1 Peter 1:3 ESV)

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)

If you or someone you know has lost a child to abortion, there is hope. My Bible study, Worthy of Love: A Journey of Hope and Healing After Abortion, has ministered to countless women (and tugged on the hearts of quite a few men as well). We all know someone who needs hope.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Shadia Hrichi is a passionate Bible Teacher who loves seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s Word. In addition to numerous articles, Shadia is the author of various Bible studies, including her latest study, TAMAR: Rediscovering the God Who Redeems Me, as well as LEGION: Rediscovering the God Who Rescues MeHAGAR: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Meand Worthy of Love: A Journey of Hope and Healing After Abortion. Shadia holds an MA in Biblical and Theological Studies, as well as an MA in Criminal Justice. Currently residing in northern California, Shadia regularly speaks at churches and women’s events and loves to visit the ocean each week for ”a date with Jesus.” Visit www.shadiahrichi.com

Join the conversation: How were God’s plans different than what you dreamed of for yourself?

Will Anyone Miss Me?

by Shadia Hrichi

If you have ever wondered that, then you can relate to Hagar’s heartbreak.

After Hagar was used by Abraham and Sarah to conceive a son, it didn’t take long before conflict arose. Hagar was disrespectful toward Sarah; Sarah bullied Hagar, and then one day, “Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away” (Genesis 16:6 NLT).

Poor Hagar. Taken into a man’s chamber, but never into his heart; released by her mistress, but never set free. When Hagar realized her attempt to gain the upper hand did not work, she ran away. I imagine that Hagar never felt so alone. Perhaps she ran away thinking, “No one will miss me.” Or, “If I run away, then they’ll miss me.”

When Hagar was treated as chattel, she reacted with contempt. When Sarah was treated with contempt, she responded by bullying. And when Hagar was bullied, she ran away. Just as in the Garden of Eden, all the enemy needs is one person to take the first bite to set a tragic chain reaction in motion.

For Hagar, running away likely offered her the temporary illusion of being in control. Even if she did not know where she was going, at least she could feel she was the one deciding which direction to take. It is not difficult to sympathize with Hagar’s identity crisis. She was likely acquired by Sarah at a young age. By then, her homeland was a distant memory, along with its pagan gods. She had no real relationship with the father of her child, and her mistress would probably love for Hagar to simply disappear. With no real home of her own, it is no surprise that Hagar did not know how to fully answer the Angel of the Lord’s question in Genesis 16:8, “…Where have you come from and where are you going?” (Genesis 16:8a ESV). 

While God does not always call us to an easy road, His ways can always be trusted. Despite how Hagar may have felt, Scripture assures us that she was never alone. God not only saw Hagar in her affliction, but He comforted her with an amazing promise. “The angel of the Lord also said to her, ‘I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude’”(Genesis 16:10 ESV).

Hagar was the only woman in the Bible to whom God personally promised a multitude of offspring. Whereas Sarah would certainly be blessed with similar and more far-reaching promises, God bestowed upon Hagar His personal blessing of “a multitude” that could not be counted.] Hagar was also the only person in the entire Bible to give God a name, “You are the God who sees me” (Gen. 16:13 NIV). 

How precious! In the midst of the wilderness and her woundedness, Hagar discovered she was known and she was loved. Her encounter with God gave her the courage to surrender control, obey His command, and return to her mistress – but she did not return the same. She had a voice. And she had a place. While she would remain the servant of Sarah, Hagar would also be known as the mother Abraham’s son, whom God Himself gave the tender name Ishmael, meaning, “God hears” (Genesis 16:11).

One minute we see an oppressed runaway slave; the next minute, we see a bold and courageous servant of God. No one can encounter the living God and remain unchanged. 

Throughout our lives, you and I will face challenges that will tempt us to go our own way. It may seem like we are in control, but in reality, that control is an illusion. We are all dependent on God for everything; even our very breath comes from Him. The truth is that when you and I resist God’s sovereignty, we hinder our own ability to experience His peace – the very thing our hearts long for the most. But praise God that He does not leave us in the midst of the wilderness and our woundedness – but willingly pursues us there!

“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?” (Psalm 139:7 ESV)

Adapted from Shadia Hrichi’s Bible study, HAGAR: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Me.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Shadia Hrichi is a passionate Bible Teacher who loves seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s Word. In addition to numerous articles, Shadia is the author of various Bible studies, including her latest study, TAMAR: Rediscovering the God Who Redeems Me, as well as LEGION: Rediscovering the God Who Rescues MeHAGAR: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Meand Worthy of Love: A Journey of Hope and Healing After Abortion. Shadia holds an MA in Biblical and Theological Studies, as well as an MA in Criminal Justice. Currently residing in northern California, Shadia regularly speaks at churches and women’s events and loves to visit the ocean each week for ”a date with Jesus.” Visit www.shadiahrichi.com

Join the conversation: How about you? Are there any areas in your life where you struggle for control?

Why Settle for a Regular Life?

by Shadi Hrichi

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 ESV

I love my handy little label maker. Truth be told, I use it more than necessary.

Not that long ago, a friend asked me if I would print some labels for her. Of course, I was delighted! Apparently, her family enjoyed having a variety of coffee. However, they kept confusing the different coffee containers. My friend liked her home clean and tidy. Ugly masking tape on the containers simply would not do.

So she asked me to make her the following labels:

  • Decaf
  • Half-Caf
  • Regular
  • Espresso

When I met her the next day, this is what I gave her:

  • Lie to Me
  • Half-Truths
  • He is Risen
  • Eternal Life 

She loved them! And no one ever mistook one coffee for another again.

We all have our personal tastes, even when it comes to Christianity. For some, lies are simply more attractive than the truth. Others might pick and choose parts they like and discard ones they find less appetizing. Even among those who receive the Savior, many quickly settle back into a regular life. But for a bold and courageous few, nothing less than exhilarating Eternal Life will do. Right here. Right now.

These are the ones who take Jesus at His Word, “I am the resurrection and the Life.” (John 11:25 ESV)

Why settle for a regular life when Jesus promises so much more? “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3 ESV)

Eternal life does not begin when we enter Heaven; Eternal Life begins when Jesus enters us! He says so Himself: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 ESV)

Jesus is talking about the here and now. From the beginning to when we enter glory, God takes holy pleasure in blessing His children who humbly walk with Him (Matthew 7:11). God does not call us to a mundane life without purpose or joy. To the contrary, once we belong to Him, our lives suddenly have a greater purpose than anything we could have previously conceived!

In Christ, we are invited to participate in God’s redemptive plan for mankind. Each of us has been uniquely gifted, called, and positioned by God to make a difference in this world. The moment we embrace these truths, He fills us with Himself so that we can be poured out into a dry and weary world.     

“Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14 ESV)

How about you? Have you settled for a regular life? What would it look like to take hold of Jesus’s promise, “I am the resurrection and the Life”?

Do you need some fresh ideas to help kick-start your Quiet Time”? Get your FREE guide: 7 Simple Ideas to Refresh Your Quiet Times. May the Lord bless you as you seek to grow closer to Him!

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Shadia Hrichi is a passionate Bible Teacher who loves seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s Word. In addition to numerous articles, Shadia is the author of various Bible studies, including her latest study, TAMAR: Rediscovering the God Who Redeems Me, as well as LEGION: Rediscovering the God Who Rescues MeHAGAR: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Meand Worthy of Love: A Journey of Hope and Healing After Abortion. Shadia holds an MA in Biblical and Theological Studies, as well as an MA in Criminal Justice. Currently residing in northern California, Shadia regularly speaks at churches and women’s events and loves to visit the ocean each week for ”a date with Jesus.” Visit www.shadiahrichi.com

Join the conversation: What has changed for the good in your life since coming to know the Lord?