We’ve all faced times of trial, but what do you do when MORE crises happen while you’re already in the middle of a crisis? Guest Shadia Hrichi shares how God used crisis upon crisis to strengthen her faith and her writing.
About Shadia Hrichi
Shadia Hrichi is a passionate Bible teacher who loves seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s Word. She holds a master’s in biblical and theological studies and a master’s in criminal justice. Her Bible studies include her latest release, Rahab: Rediscovering the God Who Saves Me, as well as TAMAR, HAGAR, LEGION, and WORTHY OF LOVE, endorsed by Francine Rivers, Liz Curtis-Higgs, Chris Tiegreen, Bible Study Magazine, and others. Shadia enjoys speaking at retreats and events, and loves to visit the ocean each week for “a date with Jesus.”
Enter for a chance to win a free copy of Shadia Hrichi’s latest Bible study Rahab! One copy will be given away each week during the month of November!
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Erin: Welcome, listeners. We are delighted that you’re here with us. We’re doubly delighted because we have a guest, and I’m going to let Karen introduce her.
Karen: It’s Shadia Hrichi! We’ve had her here a couple of times before and we’re having her back because we love her. And we love the way that she brings the Bible to life for us and helps us to apply it in every step of what we’re doing for God as we’re on this journey to write and share his truth.
She holds a Master’s in Biblical and Theological Studies as well as a Master’s in Criminal Justice. She is an amazing teacher and the author of a number of Bible studies and has just released her newest on Rahab. Shadia, welcome. We’re so glad to have you here.
Shadia: Oh, this is fantastic. Thank you so much for having me back.
I appreciate all that you do to invest in writers. Your ministry is beautiful. Thanks for having me.
Erin: Thank you. Well, as we love to begin, what does the deep mean to you, Shadia?
Shadia: When I think of the deep and my walk with God, I’m reminded, of what Paul says: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and I want to know God more.”
I think that’s what we all want as Christians. We all want to know God more. It’s just like any relationship. You do that by going deep, by spending that time together and intentionally investing in that relationship. I just want to know him more.
Erin: I love that the focus on intention there is the key. We might want things, but if we don’t do anything about them, they’re just desires, not goals.
Erin: But if we have the intention and the goal of doing that, of spending that time, then it can happen. So I love that word.
Shadia: And it’s God’s desire too. We’re right in alignment. It’s his will.
Erin: That’s right. And he does draw us. I think that’s something we can be praying for when we’re praying about having a deeper relationship with him, that he would call, that he would draw us, and that we would meet him with that intentionality as well. So I like that.
Well, we’re excited about the release of your new Bible study. I got to tell you guys, go look at her Bible studies. These are great. I have thoroughly enjoyed even just looking through them. But digging into them and doing them—doing is a cool experience. We’ve got to definitely say that is a life-changing type of a Bible study experience when you’re going deep.
Rahab: Rediscovering the God Who Saves Me is the newest one, and so I’m excited about that because it’s about Rahab. That’s interesting. But as you were writing this study, how did it impact your own faith walk? Especially how that regarded your situation with your mom’s health?
Shadia: Yeah. It’s interesting because with this particular Bible study, faith and salvation together are the primary themes of the entire Bible study. Those are the center cores of Rahab’s story and this particular Bible study. Looking back, I realized I probably shouldn’t have been surprised when God allowed me to experience not one, but two really difficult events that challenged my faith.
One of them we talked about last time with me having to suddenly have to move. That happened about halfway through writing this Bible study, and that was very, very difficult. But who knew I was going to be in store for something far worse? It happened just a couple of weeks away from my book deadline.
Whenever you’re on a book deadline, anybody who’s experienced that knows that’s pretty stressful. Everything is basically on hold until you finish this book. You’re not cleaning the house. Your friends have to bring you food.
So here I was at the end. I had just a couple of weeks left for finishing the book. I had about two days left that I was writing for the end of the study. I’m under all this pressure, and I get a phone call from my brother. Now I live in California, my family’s originally from New York, so my brother, my mom, and so forth are living in New York. I get a call from my brother saying that mom is in the hospital.
Now at that point, I had already made three trips to New York just in that past year because her health had been slowly failing, but she kept bouncing back. The last time I saw her, she was getting stronger. She was back home and things seemed to be going fine.
But my brother calls me and by the time he called me and said that she was in the hospital, I mean, hours later, she’s already on life support. I almost didn’t even comprehend the words. It happened so fast.
Just hours later, I’m on a flight back to New York. All my friends and Bible study group and prayer team are praying alongside with me for two things. I wanted to get back in time to say goodbye, and more importantly, to share the gospel one last time.
I think I’ve shared on this program before, I wasn’t raised in a Christian family, I’m the only Christian in the family. Twenty-five years of witnessing, and I’m still the only Christian in the family. I’ve been witnessing to my mom for years, and there was a time many years before that she had prayed with me to receive Christ, but I never really saw much fruit. She was kind of on her own, and one of those people that…I mean, I can’t put this on my shoulders, but I sometimes feel that if I had just been there, she would have went to church with me.
Karen: Right, right.
Shadia: You get it. I honestly just never knew where she stood with the Lord. When the plane landed, a friend picked me up, and we drove straight to the hospital. I went right up to her room.
She’s in ICU, my brother’s there, my stepfather’s there, my aunt, my mom’s sister. Mom is sedated, completely sedated. There are fifteen wires and tubes and all those things. Quite honestly, looking back, I was probably just in shock.
I’ve heard people say that even if somebody’s sedated or in a coma or anything like that, their hearing still works.
Karen: You can talk to them. Right.
Shadia: Yeah. So I held on to that. I went up to her bed, and I held her hand. I thought to myself—obviously praying this whole entire time—I thought, “God, she’s heard the gospel. I don’t need to go through the Romans road. I mean, she knows it.”
So all I just kept saying was, “Run to Jesus. Run to Jesus.”
I would read things like Psalm 23, the Shepherd Psalm, and I played the song “Amazing Grace,” just little things like that. Even though my family was in the room with me, and they’re not believers. They’ve always been very gracious and sensitive to my faith, and I appreciate that. So there was no one standing in the way of any of that.
I remember saying to my mom, “Squeeze my hand if you can hear me.”
She never did. At one moment, she did open her eyes once and she turned and I felt like she was looking at me, but then she closed them again and I’m like, “Oh God, did she, is she there? Does she hear me?”
You don’t know. It’s so hard. And by the next morning she was gone.
Karen: Oh, gosh.
Shadia: Yeah. She passed.
God had answered one of my prayers. I got there in time to say goodbye. In the dark days that followed, God was still with me. God’s light was still there.
What happened afterwards, though, is the most interesting part of what happened. I’m in New York, and I had to stay helping my brother, my stepfather, and everyone with the burial plans, the paperwork. All the logistical things that had to be arranged.
She passed on Tuesday, and by Friday, I had scheduled a flight to return home on Saturday morning. There was nothing left that needed to be done. My brother who owns a restaurant, was kind of already back in work mode. You know, life still goes on. We’re still grieving and so forth, but there are still responsibilities.
Shadia: I booked my flight for Saturday morning, but Friday, I had no peace. I just kept sensing this thought, like I had to stay one more day. I’m like, “Is that you God? Or is this my imagination?”
You know, you’re under all this stress to begin with. But by Friday night, I think it was around 11 o’clock, I can’t sleep. I’m feeling like I’m supposed to stay another day, and I’m questioning it because I’m like, “What for? There’s nothing left to do. I’ve got to get back home. I’ve got work to do.”
Of course, I’m asking God for clarity. “God, can you make it clear? Is this you?”
But I didn’t get that sense. Finally, since this feeling wouldn’t go away, I decided, “All right, well, if this is God, I need to do this, and if it’s not, what am I going to lose?”
Here I am, 11 o’clock at night, getting on my iPad, cancelling the flight, cancelling the drive to the airport. Then, of course, the airline didn’t have a flight on Sunday, so I had to book for another airline, and so on. All the things.
So I change everything, and now I’m going to fly out Sunday. So Saturday morning comes, and I’m throwing my hands up. “Okay, here I am.”
My brother’s back at work. My stepfather has some things to do, and I’m just home at my parents’ house, and I had nothing really to do. I’d already scoured Mom’s room for journals, photos, anything personal, anything special that might minister to me or my family. Mementos or whatever.
I thought, “Well, I haven’t done that in her art studio.” She was an artist, so she had an art studio. I thought, “Let me go in there and poke around.”
In the back of the studio, I found an old bookshelf. I was looking for journals, though she wasn’t a journaler. She wasn’t a writer, but I had given her a journal once like twenty years ago.
Lo and behold, I recognized it. Although at the moment, I couldn’t even remember if it was the one I gave her twenty years ago. But I recognized that it had no title. It wasn’t a book. So I pulled it out and then I recognized it immediately. It had this yellow sunflower on top and it was a journal I had given to her twenty years before.
Shadia: In that journal were just three entries. In one of the entries, she wrote a prayer telling God how much she thanked him for me, that I had shared the Lord with her and witnessed to her. Then she wrote a prayer of salvation, giving her life to Christ. Dedicating her life to Christ.
I’m reading these words like, “Is this really what I’m reading?”
Especially because of the fact that she was not a writer. She wasn’t a journal type person, but I’ve got boxes of journals, you know what I mean? But that wasn’t her thing. So for her to write this down, this is significant. She wrote this prayer of salvation and thanked God for me telling her about him.
I thought in that moment that even though mom had struggled all those years to hold on to her faith—because we’d had conversations now and then—I’d just never, I mean, I was looking for that clear sign, that evidence. I was struggling myself, not seeing that evidence and God reminded me of 2nd Timothy 2:13, which says that even if we are faithless, God remains faithful. He cannot deny who he is.
It seemed that he honored Mom’s prayer because it was a sincere prayer. I’m the one who had to rest in that truth, trusting in who God is and thanking him for displaying that for me by ensuring I would delay that trip in order to find that journal rather than spending the next six months in despair until the next time I was back there.
Here’s one more tiny piece of this story. When I got back home here in California, the next morning, my mind’s still a little bit blown, and I was struggling again. Like, “Is she really in heaven? Is she really with God? Is it true?”
That’s when the Spirit spoke clearly—that clarity I wanted on Friday, and I didn’t get it. I got it on Monday morning, back in California. He spoke very clearly, giving me that reminder of me finding that journal, delaying the trip. He said to me, “Is it in God’s nature to give you false hope?”
Shadia: Yeah. Then, of course, when I finally started getting back to finishing the end of the Bible study, it’s nothing like what I would’ve written before this happened. So, yeah, I’m just praying that story encourages many others..kind of like Rahab. She saved her family. She went back for her family. She could have jumped out the window with the spies and saved herself.
Shadia: She could have been rescued that night, but she stayed back and risked her life to save her family. I feel like God allowed me to see that connection.
Shadia: That’s what he did. He allowed my faith to really be challenged in a beautiful way and again displayed the beauty of who he is, which is ultimately what we want. That’s what I want. I want to know him more.
Shadia: He revealed himself more clearly.
Karen: Yeah, that’s amazing.
Erin: That’s what he does. That’s who he is. That’s the goal—that God reveals who he is in his word and through us.
Shadia: He wants to be known.
Erin: And trusted—us understanding by faith that we can trust who he is and who he’s revealed himself to be, which is why I like so much that you write Bible studies. Because that’s one of the ways that we understand who God is and how he reveals himself to us. He left us the Bible to reveal himself to us.
Erin: We don’t dig in the way we need to. I saw this quote on some of your promotional material for the Bible study for Rahab. You’d said, “In today’s fast-paced, instant-results, frenzied way of life, many Christians have come to lean on a Bible verse or even a word as spiritual nourishment.”
I thought, “Yeah!” You tell us, though, why is that a problem?
Shadia: Yeah, it certainly is the culture we’re in now. “Just a Bible verse a day and keep the devil away” kind of thing. The problem with it is that except perhaps the book of Proverbs, the Bible wasn’t written to be understood in verses.
A lot of the Bible is narrative, or in the New Testament, there are stories. Everything is written in within context. Then even broader of that, all of the Bible is written and connects to the rest of the Bible. There’s one redemptive story throughout the entire Bible. Then each element of the Bible, whether it’s a book or even if you just take a chapter, it all has to be understood within context.
That’s how you get to know God more. That’s how you see what this bigger picture is. Where is he coming from? What is he trying to teach us?
We can’t survive spiritually on breadcrumbs. God’s given us bread. God’s given us food. God’s given us a feast.
We can’t easily take it all in at once, but he’s also provided nerds like me who love to do that extra digging and then provide guidance on how you can dig in, on how you can know God more. He has revealed himself in his word. It’s very important to study the Bible with those bigger pictures in mind and looking at everything and how it relates to the Bible as a whole.
Erin: Yeah. I think of so many people out there who have a question about God, or an anger toward God, or a disbelief, they’ll pull out one little thing, but there’s a whole backstory behind all this.
You know, somebody once said to me, “Are you saying that people who follow the Jewish faith tradition, but don’t follow Christ, they’re not Christians then? What’s going to happen to them? Jesus was a Jew.”
I’m just like, “What? There’s a whole story in there. A whole redemptive story about how God woos his people.”
Karen: The interesting thing is, as writers, none of us write books with the intent that our readers will come and pull one sentence, one paragraph out and put that up on their wall and use that without context. I mean, they could pull something that somebody bad says, and say, “I’m so inspired by this.”
You’re like, “Ah, you have to read that in context of the story in order to understand.”
That’s the same thing with the scriptures.
Shadia: Yes. I think this is why so many Christians are feeling empty, longing for deeper intimacy with God, because they’re only looking at the examples out there, like this verse a day, a word a day. There’s nothing wrong with those things, just like you shared, Karen. I mean, I have a Bible verse on my wall.
Shadia: But I know the context of the story and it has such richer application to me because I’m aware of the bigger story.
Karen: Because you’ve gone deeper.
Erin: These little Bible snippets, they’re like Twitter. It’s all soundbites. Soundbite faith is not deep. It’s not going deep with God, so obviously Bible study is going to help us with that. And reading the Bible through in its entirety. That’s a great practice for us to be doing every year or every two years or every six months or whatever it is.
We’re not saying you shouldn’t meditate on a Bible verse or even a word. Those things can still be good. If you’re thinking about how God is almighty, well what does that mean? Invariably, if you have more context of the Bible, what you’re coming up with for what “almighty” means are things that we’ve seen in the Bible and also in our lives. There’s that richer context there. I love that.
Erin: This has been a great conversation again. Of course! But we’re already coming to the end of our time. Are there some final words of wisdom that you would want to leave us with, either from your own life or from what you’ve learned with studying Rahab or whatever?
Shadia: One of the things that I could share about the story of Rahab is how it just applies to us. I’m always saying that the Rahab story is our story because the entire Bible is a picture of God’s passionate pursuit of his adulterous bride.
Shadia: That’s us. One of the prostitutes. But from Genesis all the way to Revelation, God is working out his plan of salvation to bring his bride home. Rahab, who’s this prostitute who’s rescued ends up in the lineage of Christ. She ends up marrying a prince of Judah. Her story reminds us that no matter what we’ve done, God is willing to embrace us if we turn to him and be saved.
Her story is our story because we are the prostitute. We become the bride of Christ. It is such a perfect place to begin a exploration into who God is. Her story is amazing, and we didn’t even talk about this whole aspect of where it appears in the Bible and the fact that they’re on the edge of the Promised Land, all that stuff. Powerful story and a beautiful story and a greatly, greatly theologically significant story in the Bible.
Erin: Cool. And we recommend it, by the way!
Karen: We all need to delve deeper. Yes, we all need to delve deeper into Rahab and to understand all of that, where it fits in God’s story and in his relationship with us.
But more than anything else, I just want to say thanks for sharing what God did for you and the way that he blessed you beyond anything you could imagine. That’s the sign of a loving father. We can rest in him. We can take him at his word when he says that if we come to him and lay our burdens on him, we can then rest.
We can rest in him. We don’t have to worry. We don’t have to be anxious for anything. And boy, howdy, if Christians don’t know how to worry, they don’t know how to do anything. They are worriers from the ground up, and we should not be. We should be resting in the God who loves us beyond our imagining.
Thank you, Shadia, and may God be with each of us every step of the day.
Shadia: Thank you.
Erin: Amen.Guest @ShadiaHrichi shares how God used crisis upon crisis to strengthen her faith and her writing. #amwriting #christianwriter Click To Tweet
Shadia Hrichi’s Latest Bible Study
Enter for a chance to win a free copy of Shadia Hrichi’s latest Bible study Rahab! One copy will be given away each week during the month of November!
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