I am participating in a Bible study of Isaiah 54 written and facilitated by Dawn Boyer from Journeys in Grace. We are in week four. There are three sections to the study. Each one will conclude with a woman who epitomizes the verses we are studying. Hannah is the woman who brings to life these first verses.
Isaiah 54:1-4 ESV
“Sing, O barren one, who did not bear;
break forth into singing and cry aloud,
you who have not been in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord.
“Enlarge the place of your tent,
and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out;
do not hold back; lengthen your cords
and strengthen your stakes.
For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left,
and your offspring will possess the nations
and will people the desolate cities.
“Fear not, for you will not be ashamed;
be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced;
for you will forget the shame of your youth,
and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.
God commands me to sing, to enlarge the place of my tent, to spread out, and not to fear. He calls for trusting Him in areas where I have insecurities, where I am full of fear, where I feel guilt, where I am self-conscious or selfish, where I am weak, where relationships have walls or hardening of the heart strings, where He calls me and I think I know better.
Dawn writes in Week One: “The reality is that we all have places where we are broken, barren, and full of fear. Isaiah 54 is a song that was written for those moments in our lives when we need to be rescued, redeemed and restored.”
I am barren as far as having children. I struggle with that at times, especially around Mother’s Day. I actually do not go to church any more on Mother’s Day because the churches I have attended over the years hand out flowers to mothers, celebrating motherhood. Church does not take into account those of us who are barren or who have lost a child in a miscarriage, having no other children. I no longer go.
But my barrenness goes beyond childlessness as Dawn points out. She has us look further into ourselves for areas where we feel barren, as of land which is too poor to produce much or any vegetation, a tree or plant unable to produce fruit or seed, places in one’s life that show no results, achievements, empty of meaning or value, or of a place or building that is bleak and lifeless (definition from dictionary). When barrenness dwells in one, the fruit of the soul is nil, nada. The life I live needs the refreshment from God’s Word, from drinking the Living Water of Jesus to grow and show the beautiful God-filled fruit.
Hannah was barren, childless. She prayed through her struggles, her pain, her feelings of not good enough in the eyes of others. She prayed silently and she prayed aloud. God heard her words and answered. God hears all my words too, even the ones that are filled with frustration or fear or other emotions. But it is through my prayers that God takes the barren areas and blesses me. I have faith that God hears me, just as Hannah did. Trust and obedience take me to Jesus. I must hear God and believe. Trust is faith and faith is believing what I cannot see. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18 Reading His Word, spending time with my Creator, praying with the heart knowledge that He hears, listens, and answers. God says in verse four that by being obedient to His commands, I will not be ashamed nor confounded not disgraced, and I will no longer remember any shame from my youth or reproach of widowhood. Hallelujah!
As Hannah, I have to come before God fully trusting and obediently willing to His very call upon my life. “Full faith in barren situations yields faith-filled abundant harvest.” (Dawn Boyer)
Father God, I come to you humbly in prayer. I feel Your hand upon me. In my love for You, the God Who hears me, I place my life in Your hands and trust You for the fruit of my life. Teach me Your ways. Guide me to dig up those places of barrenness and to not be afraid of them. Bring an Aaron and a Hur alongside of me to hold my arms up when I grow weary, helping me enlarge the place of my tent, to stretch out my habitation, and not hold back. May I lengthen my cords and strengthen my stakes, that my place be strong and wide and willing and open and trusting in You, my God and my Redeemer. In the Strong Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.