Chelsea Arrington goes to church at First Baptist Church Spartanburg, South Carolina. She sings on a worship team alongside her husband, Jay, and worship leader/songwriter, Jarod Espy.
In a quaint setting at First Baptist Church Subang Jaya, Chelsea shared about four women of faith from the Bible, and how we can be encouraged in our journey with God through their inspiring stories.
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
“To have assurance about something is to know that something is true without a single doubt,” Chelsea said, “and so to have faith is to have a 100% belief in something hoped for and unseen. It sounds impossible, but our faith is dependent upon our understanding that the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is absolutely true.”
Chelsea went on to tell us the stories of Rahab, Ruth, Hannah, and Mary.
Rahab was a prostitute. Two men from Israel were appointed to spy on her city to determine if that city was preparing for war. While they were learning about the land and taking note of important details like walls and water sources, they wandered to Rahab’s house on the outskirts of the city. Rahab let them into her home because God revealed to her who these men are and why they had come.
She knew that they had not come to participate in her trade, and she knew that God was going to deliver her people into His hands through the nation of Israel. Her people had heard about the God of Israel and she knew how big this God was and how He has delivered the Israelites out of Egypt.
And [Rahab] said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.
Rahab knew who God was even before she met anyone who followed the Lord. She had faith just by knowing how He demonstrated His power in the nation of Israel. She ultimately said, “I will not deliver you to the hands of the men who want to kill you if you protect me and my family. I will drop a red chord out of the window so that you will know where we are when you come to invade our land. And the men remained true to their word.
In Hebrews 11, commonly known as a Hall of Faith, Rahab is recognized: “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient” (v. 31). Rahab was eventually incorporated into the Jewish community, married Salmon from the tribe of Judah, and became the mother of Boaz.
Ruth was married into her husband’s family where she had a father-in-law, a mother-in-law, a brother-in-law, and a sister-in-law. But then, her husband, her father-in-law, and her brother-in-law all passed away. Ruth and her sister-in-law, Orpah, had no children to pass on the family name, and had no one to protect them and care for them.
They were very hopeless, and their mother-in-law, Naomi told them to go back to their own people. Naomi, in her sadness and bitterness said, “The Lord has forgotten me. He has done ill against me.” So Orpah kissed them goodbye and went back to her people, but Ruth said to Naomi, “I will not leave you. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. And we will be together no matter what comes our way.”
Ruth had great faith in Naomi’s God. Like Rahab, she was not from the nation of Israel and therefore was not considered one of God’s people by birth. Ruth eventually married Boaz, who was Naomi’s relative and Rahab’s son. God ultimately used Boaz and Ruth in the lineage of Jesus, making Rahab an ancestor of Jesus as well.
Hannah was a great woman of dedicated prayer. Hannah’s story begins in frustration and exhaustion. She was married to a man named Elkanah, and was one of his two wives. Hannah and Elkanah had a great love together, but he took another wife because Hannah was barren and could not have children.
At that time, children were a legacy and provision. Elkanah’s other wife was very hostile and mean to Hannah, but Hannah didn’t retaliate. She was praying in the temple one day, openly weeping and crying out to the Lord to bless her with a child when the priest, thinking she was drunk, came to her and told her, “Woman, you need to settle down. You’ve had too much to drink.”
But Hannah replied that she was not drunk. She told the priest that she was asking God to give her a child. She made a vow to God that if He would bless her with a son, she will dedicate him to the Lord, and he will be the Lord’s first and hers second.
Hannah prayed for many years and in due time, the Lord blessed her. 1 Samuel 1:20 records, “So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.””
Mary was a young girl who was betrothed—set to marry a man named Joseph. Mary and Joseph were on a great path. They were ready to begin their life together. All of the sudden, the Lord changed their plans and an angel of the Lord appeared to Mary saying, “Mary, you’re going to conceive a son.”
At that point, she probably thought, “Sure, one day, I hope to.” But the angel said, “You will conceive a son and He’s going to be the Savior of the World. The Holy Spirit will conceive Him within you.”
Mary was probably scared at first. She went to tell Joseph, and Joseph, not wanting her to be shamed or to become the laughing-stock of society, decided to leave her quietly. But an angel appears to Joseph and told him not to leave her, for what was conceived in Mary was not of man, but of God.
Mary had great obedience and followed the Lord faithfully. When the angel appeared to her, her reply was: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
She knew nothing apart from what the angel said. She did not know what was going to happen. She could not have imagined that the Lord would come as a perfect man to live a perfect life, experience everything we experience on this earth without sin, die on a cross for our sins and be raised again to life to sit at the right hand of God.
Each of these women was used greatly by God. Rahab, Ruth, and Mary are all named in the lineage of Jesus, and Hannah became the mother of Samuel—one of the greatest prophets of the Lord. “Even when we don’t see God working, even when we don’t see His hand, He is faithful,” Chelsea said.
Rahab was a woman trying to survive. Ruth was a woman who had lost earthly protection and provision. Hannah was a woman without children—something that characterized being a woman, and Mary was a young girl who trusted God’s promise for her good and for His glory.
Rahab did not have a respectable profession and people probably did not want to associate with her; Ruth was not respected by society after she lost the protection and provision of her husband; the priest thought Hannah was drunk; and Mary’s pregnancy was a scandal. But they were persistent in their faithfulness to the Lord, and God blessed them.
God had a great plan for the suffering of these women, and God has a great plan for our lives. God is present. God knows us, and God loves us. These women were all ordinary. Common. There was nothing special about them, and they are the kind of people God that chooses to use.
“How has the Lord worked in your life?” Chelsea asked. “Our stories are very different, and God chooses to use us in different ways. But just as God used these women for His good and His glory, God has a great plan for our sufferings, our joys, our blessings, and our situations. God uses them mightily.”
It’s hard to see why a situation happens when you’re in the middle of it. But God uses those times, and our stories can impact other people. It’s not easy to experience difficult things, but it is important to remember that God is using all of them. “Think about the ways God has been faithful to you,” Chelsea said. “When you reflect on that, it gives us a greater love and a greater understanding of God. It grows our faith in Him.
“If God just answered every prayer the moment we asked for something, we would probably start relying on our own strength. We wouldn’t look to Him and our faith in Him wouldn’t grow. We will begin to praise ourselves, become self-righteous, and think we’re self-sufficient when we’re really not. We need Him desperately.”
In closing, Chelsea reminded us that we can look at how God has been faithful to others and be encouraged. “It brings such peace to know that when we’re in tough situations—physically, emotionally, or spiritually, that God is faithful and that He never changes,” she said. “He doesn’t change from one country to another or from one day to another. He is the same, and He has the same love for me that He had for Rahab, Ruth, Hannah, and Mary.” We may constantly fail each other, but God never fails, and He never disappoints.
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