Shadia Hrichi, what an amazing woman of God. We are just now getting to know each other, but what a blessing. She and my friend, Sandi Miller (Faith Notes ~ Where is God When Your Childhood … Just … Isn’t? ) are ministry partners, helping women heal from torn hearts brought on by abortion.
Shadia was born in the ethnic melting pot of Manhattan’s Lower East Side — the first child of immigrant parents. In time, she came to have three parents (step-dad makes three) and they could not have made a more diverse religious mix, coming from Lutheran, Muslim, and Jewish homes. Adding to that mix came friends from Catholic, Buddhist, and New Age backgrounds.
Shadia supposes this early assortment of cultures and beliefs planted a seed that would one day ignite a passion in her to share the good news of Jesus Christ with people from all kinds of backgrounds.
Her name, in case you are curious, is pronounced Shah-dee-uh Her-ee-she. It’s Arabic and Shadia means “Singing Birds,” which always makes Shadia laugh because she freely admits she can’t sing to save her life. However, not many years ago she learned that her name also means “Beautiful Voice,” which, as a writer, she decided makes it okay after all.
Shadia’s favorite Bible verse is one she has treasured from the very first year she met Jesus, which is Psalm 126:6. “Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” (NIV)
And just so you’ll know she is just as real in her humaness as the rest of us, Shadia says, “Please don’t buy me a plant. It’s a death sentence. They say you should talk to your plants, so to the few that are still hanging on, I always whisper to them just before I leave on a trip, “good luck.” (Even my silk plants tremble when I walk by.)”
You and I live in a broken world. A world in which each of us, at one time or another, will experience some form of suffering. Some caused by others; some due to our own poor choices.
I suppose the first major heartbreak in my life happened when I was twelve years old and my parents divorced.
Looking back, I realize that soon after my father left home, I began looking for love in all the wrong faces.
I was only 15 years old when I found myself pregnant. Feeling like I had no other choice, I had an abortion. Because I was not raised in any religion and did not believe in God, the guilt I experienced afterwards was very confusing and led to suicidal thoughts.
Yet now I can look back and see that God’s grace was protecting me, even though I did not know Him at the time.
By the time I was seventeen, I had engaged in a string of brief relationships, exchanging sex for the short-lived illusion of being loved. Eventually, I met and married a man whose dysfunction rivaled my own.
For fourteen years, we lived on a rollercoaster of ups and downs that come with alcoholism, mental abuse, codependency, depression, and more. We were caught in a vicious cycle, and neither of us knew how to break it.
The tragic reality is this: wounded people attract wounded people. My idea of love was that the one who stayed with me must be the one who really loved me. I can only imagine how deeply this must grieve our Lord, who created women to be cherished, protected, and treated with tenderness and dignity.
As I look back on one dark night in particular, I see a war being waged for my soul. Through the violent hands of a tormented man, the enemy of my soul battled to destroy me. Fighting for my life as the man clenched his fists around my neck, I was just one breath away from spending eternity without ever knowing the love of God.
And though I did not cry out a prayer or call on His name, God knew … God saw … and God intervened. Such incredible love! Long before I ever knew Him, God stepped in to protect me from entering eternity without Him. He had been watching over me all along … behind the seen.
Perhaps you’ve not experienced the same hurts I have, but if you’ve lived in this world long enough, I know that you have also experienced suffering. This is what makes the Cross Jesus bore so incredible … that the God of all creation would enter our world and subject Himself to such unspeakable suffering!
As a result, He truly can understand our sorrow; He has likewise walked the desert roads of rejection, abuse, betrayal — even death.
It is this beauty of God’s redemption in the midst of our sorrow that serves as the inspiration for a Bible study I’ve written based on the story of Hagar in the book of Genesis. Hagar — feeling used and abused — tries to outrun her circumstances along with her tears. Finding herself in a barren desert, she encounters the Living God, and “she gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her, You are the God Who Sees Me” (Genesis 16:13).
Oh, how many of us need this reminder that the God of the universe cares about our hurts and counts all our tears! God used Hagar’s story to gently draw out my own desert wanderings.
In turn, it is my prayer that this study will help others discover that when we surrender our lives into God’s hands, our trials and triumphs serve a magnificent purpose: to draw us into the arms of the faithful God Who Sees Me.
When I consider everything that God has delivered me from, I am truly in awe. There is no place too dark and no pit too deep where God’s love cannot reach us.
“Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.”
(Psalm 139:7-10 ESV)
More About Shadia:
Shadia Hrichi is a passionate author and speaker who loves seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s glorious Word. She published a bible study for post-abortion healing, based on her personal story, called Worthy of Love: A Journey of Hope and Healing After Abortion.
After receiving God’s call to enter seminary in 2011, Shadia received an MA in Biblical and Theological studies from Western Seminary. She also holds an MA in Criminal Justice and BA in Psychology from the State University of New York.
Currently, Shadia has the honor of serving the Lord on the Board of Directors for RealOptions Pregnancy Centers and regularly speaks at pregnancy center fundraisers, churches, and other events. Please visit Shadia’s website where you can watch video clips, download a free eBook of her story “Nameless No More” and much more at shadiahrichi.com