Redeemed from Shame – A Story

It was a hot day, like so many days before. The last thing she wanted to do was to take the long walk to the well. But, she knew that there would be little likelihood of anyone else going out at this time and that this was the right time to go out, when the sun was high in the sky. She lifted the empty jug and headed out of the city towards the ancient well, alone. Time and again, she longed for someone to talk to while walking the distance to the well, drawing the water and walking back to the village. Being treated as a stranger in the village where she grew up, with people gossiping about her and giving her stares as though they can’t tolerate her was the life that she became accustomed to. She knew she had made a lot of mistakes in her life and wanted to change and make things better for herself. But, she didn’t know how and was almost resigned to the fact that this is the way things will continue. “If only someone would talk to me, instead of talking behind my back. If only someone would try to help me“.  She longed for a friend, for someone to walk with, someone who would care for her and try to understand how difficult her life has been and not point an accusing finger at her. It was a long walk towards the well. Shame and disgrace followed her daily and without some kind of miracle, she thought it would never change.

As the woman drew closer to the well, she became aware of someone standing near it. He did not look familiar to her. She thought to herself, “Who is that? Why is he sitting at the well? There’s no one else around. Maybe this isn’t the right time to come here, after all.” But, she was filled with curiosity and felt that she was being drawn to continue on the path to the well. As she approached, she quickly discerned that this man was a Jew. Again her thoughts began to race. “What is he doing here?“. As soon as she reached the well, the Lord Yeshua was the first to speak and said to her “Give Me a drink”. He, too, was alone, as those who traveled with Him had gone into the city from which the woman came. The situation allowed for open discussion. The woman was surprised at His request and quickly replied, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?”. It seemed strange to her that he would ask her for water, as Jews and Samaritans had no dealings with one another. The woman did not argue, but began to lower her vessel into the well, glancing curiously at the One Who stood before her. “He seems…different… even…kind“, she thought to herself. His eyes looked at her with compassion, with a kind of comforting warmth that replaced the pounding heat of the day. Then He added: “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” 

This unexpected comment peaked the woman’s curiosity even more. She wondered how this stranger intended to bring not only water, but living water out of such a deep well without a jug or a bucket or another kind of vessel of some kind. She was totally unprepared for any discussion about God and couldn’t understand His statement regarding a gift of God. “Does God really care about me? What kind of gift is He talking about?” She needed to bring the conversation back to a human level and tried to compare the Lord Yeshua to our forefather, Jacob, whose ancient well supplied water to Jacob and his family and even his flocks, the well at which they were now standing. “Surely”, she thought, “this man is no greater than our father Jacob”. But, the Lord Yeshua was not there for idle conversation or for a discussion of man’s accomplishments or greatness. He brought the conversation back to a spiritual level and answered her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life”. The woman still did not understand. But, His words “shall never thirst” struck a nerve, particularly in the scorching heat of the day, when she made the trek to the well so that there would be water to drink in her home.  She quickly answered, “Sir, give me this water so I will not be thirsty, nor come all the way here to draw.” Yet His response was the last thing she expected to hear. “Go, call your husband and come here.” Caught by surprise and with no small amount of embarrassment, she lowered her head and said she had no husband, thinking of the man she was living with who was not her husband. The Lord Yeshua confirmed what she said, mentioning her five husbands and the paramour with whom she was now living. What He said startled her. They never met, she never even saw Him anywhere and she didn’t know His name. “How could this man know so much about my life? Has he been talking to the people in the village who are always mocking me? No. He has to know all this from another source. He has to be a prophet! A real prophet and He’s talking to me. What is going on? I’m not comfortable with this conversation focusing on me.” The woman just wanted to change the subject from her sinful lifestyle, because every time the topic came up in the village, she became a source of shaming and mocking. All she ever felt from people was their contempt, their dumping guilt and reproach on her. She messed up her life, but there was no one who ever tried to help her to get her back on the right track, or even to speak kindly to her. So she changed the topic, bringing up one of the points of contention between Jews and Samaritans – the place of worship. Yeshua went along in the conversation, but made it clear that she and the Samaritans worshipped what they didn’t know, but the Jews knew that “salvation is from the Jews” and that God is more concerned with worship from the heart than worship from a place and that He was seeking those who would worship the Father in spirit and in truth. Those words penetrated her heart and she responded with a sense of understanding and an expectation long hoped for: “I know that Messiah is coming; when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” She expressed what she knew, as well as what all hoped for. The Lord’s answer was clear and straightforward: “I who speak to you am He.”

The woman not only heard all these things but took them to heart as she realized what had happened. The relatively short conversation was now over. The Lord’s disciples were returning from the city. Now, it was her turn to go. But, in her excitement, over what she had heard, an excitement that she hadn’t felt in years, she left her vessel at the well and ran back into the village. In the heat of the middle of the day, she began to talk with everyone she saw. She knew they had to hear. “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Messiah, is He?” She believed He was. No, more than that. She knew He was. People were stopped in their tracks. They were commenting to one another, “Isn’t this that woman, you know, that one? What happened to her? She seems …different”. A handful stopped to listen to her, then a crowd and then multitudes. And now, she was leading them to the Lord Yeshua! Her brief testimony “He told me all the things that I have done”, provided the opportunity for people to hear for themselves. He accepted their invitation to stay with them and after two days, many said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.”

Their response to the woman was not meant to push her away, but was intended as an encouragement. They themselves heard and believed in the Messiah, the One they were waiting for.

The woman didn’t realize it at the time, but a change had taken place in her life as well as in her heart that day. After hearing the Lord Yeshua speak, the people in the village began to change their attitude towards her. When confronted with her sinful life, she repented and strived to honor God in her life. It was hard, and she struggled with it, but for the first time ever, she wasn’t alone in the struggle. Others now reached out to help her. They, too, were convicted of sin and repented. Their lives were changed.

Time passed and the woman was no longer the subject of gossip and ridicule, but of praise. News from Jerusalem reached her village. She heard that the Lord Yeshua was accused by the religious leadership, mocked, laughed at, put to shame and then, crucified. If she could understand Who He was, why couldn’t they? When she heard that He had risen from the dead, her joy could not be contained. She understood that this Man at the well needed to be worshipped in spirit and in truth and that could only be accomplished by a changed life. He took away her reproach and shame by becoming a reproach for her and for us, and in the process, granting everlasting joy that flows from deep down within us.

Final thoughts on the Samaritan woman:

Shaming and gossip are real and sad phenomena in society, and the believing community is not exempt from them. It is important for us to remember that admonishing and shaming are not the same. Shaming is talking badly of someone, showing how that person is in the wrong and putting him down without trying to correct or help either the person or the situation. Admonishing is showing a brother or sister their wrongful behavior according to God’s Word and trying to help them. While it is important to admonish brothers and sisters in the faith if they deviate from the Word of Truth and live in a way that is dishonoring to God, it should be done in love. Firmly, but lovingly, we should admonish them and encourage them with the goal of bringing them to repentance, not to shame them or gossip about them.

There are fundamental issues on which we should not be willing to compromise, and if a brother or sister refuses to repent in these matters, we should relate to them in accordance with the dictates of God’s written instructions and not in accordance with our emotions. But we should always strive to do our best to bring them back to a right relationship with God. This holds true even if the issue is not a matter of sin in a person’s life, but just a disagreement with something someone said or did. We should not stop communicating with one another and certainly not gossip about that person. Shaming and gossip will only bring about division and can do considerable, unnecessary harm in relationships. Let us strive to give honor and glory to God not only in speech, but in action as well. It is part of worshipping God in spirit and in truth.

© Hannah Kramer

Giving honor where honor is due

While reading Matthew 8, I began to ponder the story of the centurion – a man with an important and powerful position, who was granted considerable authority by the Roman Empire to serve in a foreign land. What caused this man, who served an Empire hated by so many, to not only build a synagogue, but to also demonstrate love to the Jewish people that was so evident to those around him that they sought to help him.

I wondered what his background was, whether he was born a Roman or was raised as one, taken from his homeland as a child or a youth, as was the case with so many others at that time, and recruited into the military to serve the empire. What sparked his love for Israel and, especially, what led to his acknowlegement of the Lord Yeshua and to the recognition of His authority? He undoubtedly heard of Yeshua’s miracles and how the religious leadership opposed Him. Did the centurion’s love for Israel spring from a study of the Hebrew scriptures? Was he curious about the national hope of Israel that anticipated the coming of a Messiah? Not much was said about this man, apart from his exceptional behavior that led the Jewish religious leadership to want to help him because they thought he was worthy. The point that stood out for me was that the centurion didn’t see himself as worthy. His behavior was certainly contrary to the behavior of most of the Roman cohort, especially when they were vested with such authority and power. From a human point of view, he could have commanded that that the Lord Yeshua come to him and heal his servant. He could have sent soldiers to forcibly bring Yeshua to him. He could have exerted his position and imposed on Yeshua to do as he said. But the centurion did none of that. He viewed himself as unworthy and undeserving for Yeshua to even enter his house. When one considers the pride that evidenced much of the doings of the Roman Empire, this Centurion’s behavior towards the Jewish people and His attitude and esteem towards the Lord Yeshua were nothing short of amazing.

Yeshua returned the honor, acknowledging the greatness of the man’s, which also recognized the Lord’s authority. May it be that we would be the possessors of such faith! There is much to learn from this Centurion. We all have a role in society. Some have a job that comes with a grand title, some have degrees, others serve in certain ways. Most people see themselves as worthy of honor because of the role and position they have in society. Some actually seek recognition for it, like those who donate to various causes, who seek a sense of perpetuity by having their names inscribed on the cornerstones buildings or hospitals or other public places, so everyone would know who was behind its establishment. I doubt if the centurion was interested in having his name written on the cornerstone of the synagogue he built, or in having a plaque with his name on it that would be placed prominantly on one of its walls. There are others, of course, who also don’t consider themselves deserving of all attention and glamour, even though they might be the ones responsible for very helpful and meaningful things. This is not intended to say that credit should not be given when it is due. There is a time and place for everything. Yet the attitude with which one does things is critically important. The centurion didn’t help the Jews because he wanted credit and wanted to be patted on the back. He did it selflessly, seeing the need and doing what he can to meet that need.

As we serve in the fellowship, our attitude is also very important. Do we serve to be seen and heard and to receive the praise of men, or selflessly to serve the King? It is natural to want to be in the limelight. But, what about serving when others don’t see us and don’t know how hard you worked?

What is our attitude when we come to God in prayer? Do we list all the things we “did for Him” so He will answer our prayers because we are deserving? Or do we submit ourselves to Him because He is in authority and His will should be done, regardless and despite all we do or did?

The Lord Yeshua alone is worthy to receive honor, glory and praise. He has put us here so that we would acknowledge His authority and submit to it. He alone is the One Who will bestow honor on His servants at the proper time.

Tis mine to obey, tis His to provide

I am currently reading a book by Andrew Murray about abiding in Messiah. It is written as a daily devotional for the duration of a month. One of the things that left an impression on me is the statement: “Tis mine to obey, tis His to provide”. Murray elaborates on this in the succeeding devotions, but, in essence, the point is: We don’t need to worry about how we will be able to serve and do all that the Lord asks of us, because the strength and ability to do all these things, come from Him.

As I prepare for the new school year, these words have taken on an added meaning for me, especially in the context of “sowing and reaping” which have been in my mind since becoming a homeroom teacher. There was so much work to do during this week which filled up so quickly with meetings for the beginning of the school year. My mind has been racing with ideas for activities and topics that I want to share with my class. I hope these ideas will encourage them in their personal faith so that they will not only see their personal need for a savior, but also how they can grow in Him.

All this preparation can be overwhleming and may seem like a lot of work. But, when it’s all done, there is a tremendous feeling of accomplishment. Still, there is a danger of relying on all the work and effort we have done as teachers, as people, as workers in the field, hoping that the seeds that were planted, will not only grow but grow as we had hoped. I am reminded of an important fact, namely, that although we sow the seed, we are not the ones that make the seed grow. Our duty, is to work the field faithfully, knowing that this field, or whatever field we are working in, is not ours. It is His. So the growth of the seed is not our responsibility, it is His. Our responsibility is to sow and water, but it is God who causes the seed to grow and brings about the increase. He provides all that we need to work HIS field.

Another thing that I am learning is what I do with the field. Although my thoughts and ideas for my class seem to me to be good and useful, I still need to pray and see if this is what I God would have me do. Proverbs 19:21 says: “Many plans are in a person’s heart, but the advice of the Lord will stand.” We can have many plans in working a field and we should be diligent in our work and do it with joy and desire in our hearts. But, we need to always remember that the work we are called to do is in God’s field, so the work in it has to be accomplished according to His plan and will.

Working a field requires effort, consistency and faithfulness in all circumstances, both when things are fun and easy as well as when things are unclear, difficult and tiring. In all circumstances, God provides for us all that we need, to do that which He called us to do. Keeping that in mind helps us to rely completely on Him while laboring in the place where He has assigned us.

Whatever may be the field of your service, let us obey all that He asks us to do and remember, it is His to provide.

To Clique or Not to Clique

Have you ever felt that what you see on social media isn’t real? If you know how social media works, you know almost everything you see isn’t really the way it is. But that is one side of things. The other side, which I got tired of seeing, is how prideful people are. I originally joined social media to see what friends across the ocean were doing, what was new in their lives, to see photos that were too heavy to send by email, to stay updated with them and with what was going on. As more people were added, I began to see the ugly side of social media. I understand the need to share things with others, to document seasons in life and have online memories to reflect upon later. But at some point, social media stopped being social. It became all about self. Look where “I” was, look at what “I” did, look who “I” was with, look at “my” accomplishments, look at how successful “I” am. Some of these posts also mention God and give Him thanks for what He has done. But, on the whole, when we look at all of them, who really gets the credit? Who really is honored? And what is the purpose of the posting?

Social media is a reflection of real-life attitudes. I never liked social cliques, and liked them even less when I saw them within the believing community. As a teen, finding close friends within the believing community was a challenge, because I always felt like an outsider, never part of a clique. But, by His grace, God always gave me close friends at different times in my life. Looking at people today, sadly I see these cliques continuing. Those “inside” often don’t see themselves as part of a clique, but that doesn’t change the reality. It’s great to spend time with friends and not to have to spend time with people who don’t make a positive impact on our lives. But sensitivity to others is diminished. Demonstrating love to others has faded. Most of us have experienced what it is like to be talking with someone, only to be interrupted by a third person who comes along, says “hello” and is warm towards the person I am talking to, but ignores me completely. Such behavior is not only rude and causes hurt. It demonstrates an unloving attitude towards the person now being left out of the picture. We can expect this from “the world”, but it is grievous when it is done within the Believing community. I wrote a few years ago in this post “When pride kicks in” how I felt that this type of behavior results from the failure, or refusal, to see others as beneficial to them, so they don’t see a reason to be kind or warm to them. Not everyone agreed with that, and I’m sure that some will not agree with what I say here. But, that is OK. The questions we need to consider then, are: Why do people behave like that? Why ignore one and be warm to another? Why invite all except for one?

I am not saying that we need to be close with everyone. That goes contrary to human nature. I am not close with everyone in my congregation, but I make the effort and try to be warm and kind to others, even those I don’t know. I don’t always succeed at that. Still, knowing what it is like to be left on the “outside”, I try to welcome those who are new or alone in the fellowship. Social media only reflects what we see in reality, the pride of life, calling others to pay attention to the citadel of self. I do have an Instagram account, as you may have seen on this blog, but it is a business account, not personal. I believe that if there is something important for me to share with others, I will do so with people I can truly call “friends”. Not social media friends. It’s not wrong to share things on social media. But when we do share, we need to ask ourselves why we want to share what we share.

I want to encourage us all to keep our eyes and hearts open to people around us, especially those in the faith. Let us pray that we can genuinely show sensitivity to others, to act as Messiah would act, to think as He would think, to speak as He would speak. Loving my neighbor as myself can only be done from the inside out. I know that I am not there yet, but I press on, knowing that the work He began in me will be brought to completion. A handful of the followers of the Lord Yeshua turned the then-known world upside down – all without computers and smart phones. Their “social media” was their testimony about the Lord. What is ours?

Reflections of an Unexpected Year

The lives of most people on this planet have been changed by events of this past year – a pandemic, repeated lockdowns and isolations, businesses opening and closing (some permanently), schools conducting classes online, then in person, then back online and back in person, but with restrictions. Holidays were allowed to be celebrated with immediate family only, then larger groups were allowed to meet again. Congregations conducted services online, then in person with restricted numbers. You name it and somehow, in some manner, our lives concerning it were affected

We are used to making decisions and plans based on what we are doing or expect to be doing, where, how, when and with whom. We plan not just for tomorrow, but for next month, next year and even further in the future, in anticipation of the expectations of our lives. In 2020, all of our plans and short-term goals changed. Some paused and reflected on the truth of the statement in James 4:13-15 – “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. For you are just a vapor that appears for a little while, and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” The past year gave us a hard taste of that reality. Yet, despite grasping the wisdom available to us in the Scriptures we rely on our own understanding and try to carry on with our lives. Instead of being thankful for what we have been given, we get weighed down by the cares and concerns of this world often forget to say “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that“.

Many times we do pause to see what the Lord desires for us to and we take a step in one direction or another, based on His leading. But then, questions often creep in causing us to conclude that what we planned doesn’t seem possible. I know what it is like trying to figure out the next step, the when, the how, the where, while wanting all my questions to be answered immediately, so I won’t have to worry about them later. During the past two years, I chose to focus entirely on my soap and candle business, along with translation work, and it all was going well. Then, along came the Covid pandemic and many things seemed to come to an abrupt halt. I prayed again about going into teaching, as I had my teaching certificate from a few years ago, but never formally pursued teaching at a school. There were too many unanswered questions about what such a change in direction would require from me. I applied to one school I that I had previously considered and was accepted. I was also offered to be a homeroom teacher, which I agreed to. But, this job required me to move cities, find an apartment, attend a different fellowship, as well as many other decisions. Even though I didn’t have all the answers, I firmly believed this is what God wanted me to do. So I knew He would work out the details. And He did. Everything started to come into place in its own time. This doesn’t mean there weren’t hard moments in teaching, in relocating, in changing day-to-day involvements. Things I expected to go one way and went the other way. But I knew that despite it all, I was and I am where God wants me to be.

It is an almost incredible comfort to have this assurance of being where God wants you to be and doing what He wants you to do. As I talk with believers about this past year, most of them also express that their lives are different today from what they expected it to be. I always try to encourage others to walk through the door that God opened for them. He doesn’t make mistakes. They may not see how it will work out, but we serve a God Who sees the end from the beginning, Who opens doors no one can close, and closes doors no one can open. We can rest in Him and be confident that He sovereignly guides us through all the changes we experience in this life.

There is a nice saying I heard from a movie called “Overcomer”, which says: “Your identity will be tied to whatever you give your heart to”. It is true. Our identity is in Messiah, no matter where we are, what work we do, where we serve at or the things we have a talent for. If our heart is on a certain job we are hoping for, a person, a skill we have or a place we are in, and those things change, will who we are change as well? If we give our heart to God, Who never changes, not even in a pandemic, we will stand firm when the world is shaking, because He is the source and the place of our identity. There is always much for which to be thankful. Are we?

© Hannah Kramer

Working the Field

The themes of preparing a field, sowing and reaping keep coming up in different contexts recently, especially with regard to teaching. I teach at a junior high school and am a homeroom teacher. I enjoy it and love what I do, despite the challenges of teaching during covid times. 

Teaching during regular times has its challenges: encouraging kids to learn, doing their best and investing in their studies for their future. I discuss these things with students all the time, as well as with parents. But, not many see the importance of doing their best now in order to reap later on the results of their efforts and be satisfied with them. It makes me sad to see students who genuinely don’t care, sometimes even to the point of showing disrespect to what they are learning. They know they can do better, but don’t want to. It’s just like food. I can prepare it for them and encourage them to eat it, but I can’t force it on them. 

It’s not easy doing our best in something but not always seeing the results we anticipate. Sometimes, we need to wait a bit. Sometimes the results are there, only not in the way we wanted them to be.

I am learning through teaching that I have a responsibility to do what I can. There are things I can’t control. But, there are other things that I can control, such as preparing a field and sowing the seeds. I can’t control how the seeds grow or the fruit they produce. All I can do for those things is pray. God is still in control of all things and what is impossible for me is not impossible at all for Him.

Have you been given a field that you need to sow? Be encouraged to continue to be faithful in that and pray over that field. Then wait for the rain.

© Hannah Kramer

He can fill your need!

My mom gifted me this week with a necklace that has a little silver pitcher attached. The first thing I thought of as I saw it, was the story of the empty vessels in 2 Kings 4, which I once wrote about here.

My mom was reminded of the passage in 1 Corinthians 3:7-9, where Paul says that some plant the seeds, others water them and God is the one who brings about the increase.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you probably noticed how the topic of a vessel is a recurring theme here. And for a good reason. There is much to say about it. 

This necklace is a reminder that just like when you water a plant, you don’t always see how it grows and the changes within. You need to be patient and continue to water it regularly remembering that God is the one that makes it grow. 

Sometimes, working with people, we may feel we’ve poured out everything we have, we’ve given everything we had to give. That is when, as an empty vessel, we need to come to God to fill us up. 

Are you feeling empty, tired, frustrated or facing a problem that you don’t seem to be able to deal with? Come to the fountain of living water and give it to God as an empty vessel. Let Him fill you and your situation, so that what you pour out may be a sweet savor unto Him. I needed that reminder today and pray that you are encouraged by it too.

© Hannah Kramer

Breaking Down the Catch-Phrases

I have come to realize recently how much believers use catch-phrases. We share them as memes, as pretty pictures on Facebook or simply as quotes on WhatsApp. If someone sends a catch-phrase to us, we might even go “Yes! Amen! How true!” and so forth. We may be very well-intentioned as we do that.  But do we ever stop to consider what these expressions really mean and what we really think about them?

Let’s stop for a moment and contemplate the meaning of just a few of these catch-phrases and examine them in light of God’s Word. I’m not saying all of them are wrong. Some, in fact, hold very encouraging truths. But when we just go “Amen” for every one without thinking about it, even how it affects us or applies to our lives, our thoughts tend to revolve around the catch-phrase and not around the Bible. I’m sure we can all come up with an example or two, in the different areas of our lives. 

You’ve probably heard things like – 

“Waiting for God to show up.”

“God did it again.”

“Our hearts should break over what breaks God’s heart”.

Or in things related to marriage – 

“A woman’s heart should be so hidden in Christ, so that a man should seek HIM first to find it.”

“Looking for a Boaz/Looking for a Ruth”

“Looking for a proverbs 31 woman!”

And so forth.

We can delve into each of these in a separate post. I certainly have done my share of using catch-phrases or thinking along the lines of some of them. However, I have come to realise that some of them not only aren’t true, but are un-Biblical expressions. For example: “Waiting for God to show up.” That is an un-Biblical statement. God is always present. The question is whether we are aware of His presence or acknowledge it. Just because we don’t always have things done our way or get the outcome we want, doesn’t mean God isn’t there or that He is not in control. We need to be careful not to turn God into a puppet, where our wish is His command. The same is true for “God did it again!” So God did it only if it’s the way we expect it to be done? He is in control and loves us, so He does what is best for us, not what we want. He deals with us according to our needs, not our greeds (also a catch-phrase).

“Our hearts should break over what breaks God’s heart!” – Are we really ready for God to purge out of hearts those things that break His heart? God is holy and we have a long way to go to fully understand what it takes to conform our hearts and minds to His holiness. Do our hearts break over the evil all around us? Our considerations of what is evil and what is impure fall far short of His. Do we REALLY desire for God to break our hearts over all of the sins in the world that break His heart? He is too holy to even look upon sin. Do we indulge ourselves in it and try to justify why our standard is better than His? Or is this just another nice catch-phrase in a song or part of our daily communications with one another in an effort to display holiness?

What about “Looking for a Boaz/Looking for a Ruth” or “Looking for a Proverbs 31 woman”? What do we mean by those statements? Do we really think that there is another Biblical Boaz or Ruth somewhere “out there”? There was only one Boaz and only one Ruth. The Proverbs 31 woman is not Mrs. Lemuel, but a description of an ideal woman, whose characteristics are to be aspired to. Can we desire and pray for our spouses to be like Boaz, like Ruth, like the woman described in Proverbs 31? Absolutely! We can pray that our spouses be like them – people who are first and foremost, born again and who love the Lord with all their heart. We need to have a correct understanding of what it means to fear the Lord – to have an awesome reverence for Him. If we draw closer to the Lord, He will draw closer to us. We will develop a love for His Word and a desire to study it to show ourselves approved and able to rightly divide the Word of Truth. We need to cultivate a Godly work ethic and encourage our spouses in the areas of their involvements, to encourage them in the Lord and to build them up, without using catch-phrases and, certainly, not those that are un-Biblical.

There is so much more to say about this matter. We use words to communicate, but words have meanings and we should consider them before we join the masses and use meaningless catch-phrases. May God grant us wisdom to discern “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, [that our minds might] dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8). If we do, our expressions will be more Biblically based.

© Hannah Kramer

Piercing a Mother’s Heart – A Story

“Years ago, I was told it would happen. Shortly after He was born. I didn’t understand it then and it’s hard for me to understand it now,” she thought to herself in the midst of her seemingly endless flow of tears.

It was a pain the likes of which she never felt before – sharp and piercing, as though a sword had gone through her. “My son, my son”, she cried, as she looked up at Yeshua, nailed to a cross, blood flowing from His head, His arms, His face. She could hardly recognize Him, and seeing the son of her womb in His present condition, was unbearable. “Aunt Miriam”, John called out, as he grabbed hold of her to prevent her from falling to the ground. 

A lifetime passed in a moment. Thirty three years earlier, Miriam was taking care of things around the house and preparing things in anticipation of her upcoming marriage to Joseph. “Joseph should arrive later today to visit, maybe I’ll prepare his favorite meal as a surprise, he’s working so hard…”. Suddenly, Miriam heard someone calling her name. She thought everyone in the family had gone out and didn’t expect anyone to come. When she turned and saw him standing there, his appearance so bright and radiant. She wasn’t scared, she had a sense of heavenly peace as she looked at the person speaking to her. “An angel!” She never saw an angel before, but there was no doubt, one was now in her home and talking to her. As Miriam listened to the words of the angel, she felt an increasing joy well up within her accompanied by an expectation to know more. “But, how will this be?” As the angel explained everything to her, all Miriam could think of was “I am the Lord’s servant, may your will be done as you speak”, and that was all she said. She thought her heart would burst from excitement and joy.

“Wow, I can’t wait to tell Joseph. What will he say, what will he think? God, I trust you in this matter, please let Joseph believe me and give him the joy and expectancy for this wonderful news”. 

Miriam began to prepare dinner, but all she could think about what the presence of the angel and what he said to her. She still can’t believe it. When Joseph arrived, her excitement bubbled over. “Joseph! I am So happy to see you!” Miriam ran to him and cupped his hands in hers. Joseph had a puzzled look on his face, wondering what all the excitement was about. “My dear Miriam, I am so happy to be here too,” Joseph said lovingly as he looked at his young fiancée. “Is that what I think it is?” Joseph asked as he drew near to the kitchen table. He smiled as he saw his favorite meal, and smelled the spices. “Oh…yes, it is”, said Miriam. “You work so hard and I wanted to encourage you today”. Joseph washed his hands and sat down to eat, but he hardly took a bite when Miriam began sharing her news. “What?!” Joseph said, staring at her, trying to understand what she was saying. “But, Miriam, how? OK, I heard what you said, but really?” Joseph had a hard time believing her. His mind started to race. “She couldn’t have…could she? I thought she was faithful, that she loved me…is she telling the truth?” Miriam stood and looked at Joseph, begging with her eyes that he believe her. “I need to go home Miriam, I need time to think”. “But Joseph…” she started, “let me be, Miriam, I need time to think, to pray … to understand”.

That night Miriam sat and prayed fervently. “God, I trust you. You chose me to carry the child that the angel spoke about, but to raise him, I need Joseph with me. Please, speak to him, let him believe me. I know that if he doubts, so will others. So will my family, my sister and parents. God of Abraham, keep me in your hands and protect me, guide me”.

Miriam wasn’t the only one praying fervently that night. So was Joseph at his house. “God, she is so young, perhaps her heart was led astray? Maybe I should send her away quietly so as not to put her to shame, I still love her and this sounds so unreal”. Jospeh felt sadness as the decision began to come together to send his beloved Miriam away, so she would not be found pregnant out of marriage. 

Miriam began to feel the changes in her body. She knew she was pregnant, just like the angel said she would be. She needed to get a handle on all of this and decided to visit her relative Elisheva for three months, all the while continuing to pray that God would give Joseph a trusting spirit.

“Joseph, Joseph, fear not…” Joseph ran to Miriam’s house the morning after she returned. He had no moment to lose. “An angel appeared to me last night Miriam”, he said, “and told me everything, I am sorry I didn’t believe you. We must get married sooner than planned Miriam, I will make all the arrangements”. Miriam thanked God quietly in her heart as Joseph spoke to her, holding her hands in his with love and understanding. It seemed to her like another time, another world.

As Miriam gazed on her son hanging on the cross, she recalled these events, and remembered how she and Joseph had fled to Egypt because Herod sought to kill her son. She recalled how not long before that, shortly after giving birth to him, she and Joseph went to Jerusalem to make the sacrifices for the first born son. As she cradled her little one in her arms, stroking his cheeks and gently touching his hair, an elderly man named Simon approached them. Despite the passage of the years, she never forgot the words he said and what he told her personally, “and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Miriam didn’t know what to make of it at the time, but she kept those things in her heart.

As the years went by, she saw Yeshua grow and at the age of 12, she thought she lost him somewhere in Jerusalem. But, after three days of being “missing”, he told her and Joseph that He was about his father’s business. Again, Miriam added this to the things she kept in her heart.

Miriam knew all this time, since before Yeshua’s birth, that He was special. She could accept that he is the promised Messiah. But she did not expect to see him die. What mother would?

As Yeshua began doing miracles around the land and calling His disciples, she thought, “Maybe, just maybe, now he will establish the kingdom. Oh, if only Joseph were alive to see him now. How proud Joseph was of Yeshua, how he loved him as his own”. But, just as many began to follow Him, opposition to Yeshua also started to grow. And, with the passage of only three short years since He began to minister, the Sanhedrin sought to kill her son, just as Herod did when Yeshua was just a baby. “Why won’t they listen to him? Why do they hate him?” It hurt her to see her son being rejected.

So many memories went through her mind, as she stood the entire six hours at Golgotha, watching her son, wanting to yell at those who mocked him and laughed at him. As news of Yeshua’s arrest the night before spread quickly, Miriam had no time to lose. “I must see him, I must get to him now”. She could not make it through the crowds at Pilate’s court, all she could do was stand outside and shudder as she heard people cry “Crucify him! Crucify him!” The shouts became a deafening roar. “Come, aunt, let’s get away from here”, John urged, trying to move her gently. Miriam didn’t want to leave, but she knew there was no point in staying there. 

As Yeshua was being led to the cross, she got her first sight of Him, and nearly collapsed. “My son! What have they done to my son?” He was beaten, scourged, spat upon, bleeding, he could hardly carry the wooden beam on his own from all the pain. At the side of the road where the crowd gathered, her body shook with every strike of the hammer on the nails that pierced the hands of her son. Then, one more, as the nail pierced his feet.

She couldn’t look upon Him. It was too painful. This was her son, her first born. “Woman”, she lifted her gaze as she heard His voice. She saw Yeshua talking directly to her. Her heart began to race as she listened to her son’s last words to her. “This is your son”, referring to John who stood next to her. She looked at John, who was truly like a son to her. And then they both heard Yeshua say, “This is your mother”. It was understood, John took care of her from that point on with the love of a son.

The agony and emotional pain that Miriam felt that day was as unbearable as it was indescribable. Simon’s words to her so many years earlier, which were not understood then, were understood now. An invisible sword pierced her heart just as the Roman nails pierced the flesh of her son. The pain began when she saw her son being mocked and opposed by the religious leadership and she thought she would die from the pain when she saw Yeshua on the cross. And then it was over. But, the pain remained, pain and agony that only a loving mother could feel at the death of her first-born son. “How? Why? But, the angel said …. I don’t understand. How could this be. Yeshua, Oh, my son, Yeshua. What I wouldn’t give for me to die instead of you.”

Several days later, Miriam heard from Yeshua’s disciples that He has risen from the dead. “Could this really be true?” By now, she had gone through the memories of those historic days and of her own life. She had come to realize that indeed, as she looked at Yeshua on the cross, she was looking at her son. But, she saw Him. He IS alive. Death couldn’t hold Him. And now, for the first time, she understood that this child that she delivered came to deliver her. He was her son. She will always be His mother. But, more than a son, He is now her Lord and Savior, through what He accomplished on the cross. That is how she looked upon him from that point on. Her heart was pierced by the sword when He was put to death on the Cross. But, the agony of the Cross turned to joy inexpressible, as she was given a new heart and a new life…in her son. 

© Hannah Kramer

The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation


I am sharing something my brother wrote regarding the coronavirus. Translated from Hebrew and shared originally in the young adults group.

WhatsApp Image 2020-03-16 at 19.21.21

Sadly, this past weekend’s hard storm in Eilat left massive destruction in the coral reef. Not only did it damage scientific projects, but it damaged the beauty and richness of the animals dependent on the reefs for their lives. 

“For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now” (Romans 8:22). This is a harsh and painful reminder of the consequences of sin that has entered the world. Like creation, we too, await the day when we will be free from destruction, illnesses and death in the world.

“…’Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?’” (Mark 4:41). The Lord Yeshua is in control over everything, over natural and super natural forces, including coronavirus 😷. He has the power to restrain and stop and on the other hand, do nothing if He chooses so. “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation.” (Psalm 33:11), and as Job said: “‘I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted’ (Job 42:2).

We love to be in control and know what is going on. I think that somewhere the coronavirus shattered this illusion and reveals to us the reality that we aren’t really in control…We can’t go wherever we want, for some of us, work and studies are stopped, there is a lot of sadness, anxiety and so forth. No doubt that the year 2020 is a very interesting and challenging one! I believe the coronavirus is teaching us to look at life with proportion, at things that really matter.

How interesting that at the first young adults’ meeting this year, we spoke about how our faith is exercised in the most challenging and difficult times of our lives. Is it not during difficult times that we should place our trust in the Lord Yeshua? As you noticed, we don’t have fellowship gatherings now and we have heard countless times how the Body is not a building. We don’t need a special place to gather, pray, read or even worship! Let’s remember to be a light in this dark time: to allow others to pass us in line at the supermarket, to be with self restraint and patience with everyone, to ask others in the faith (and not only in the faith) how they are doing and to seek opportunities to show God’s love.

Have a blessed week and remember: “Cleanse your hands, you sinners” (James 4:8)  🧼 🙌🏼

© Nati Kramer

Picture by Nati