May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.
“She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25
God loves strong women. Strength is required for the great work our creator is calling us to. Women comprise half of humanity and our femininity was designed by God with a unique and particular purpose in mind. I’ve been told I’m strong many times. I don’t think it was always a compliment in the mind of the individual saying it, ha! I do fit the “Anne of Green Gables” redhead stereotype with my sharp mind and quick tongue. Passion is a quality I have never lacked, though I do regret that, at times, it has been misguided. In spite of that, I’m thankful to be one in a long line of strong, redheaded women.
It takes great strength to raise children, to joyfully love the same man over a period of decades, to lead a business or organization, to pick up the pieces and start again after death or divorce, to maintain a household while a husband serves in the armed forces or as a first responder. The teenage mother with an unplanned pregnancy needs strength to birth a baby and to choose whether to raise the child or give her to adoptive parents. The refugee woman in a new country, speaking a new language, requires strength to begin a new life. The victim of sexual violence requires great strength and courage to testify against her accuser. We women, we sisters and mothers and daughters and wives, we need our strength.
God has always called his people to be strong, to stand up against injustice and proclaim dignity over every member of humanity. He has called us to be strong to face impossible situations. In our beautiful and broken world, there is so much to do that will require His great strength. There are slaves to be freed, children to be adopted, victims to be rescued, refugees to be brought home, addicts to be rehabilitated, friends and enemies to be forgiven. The brokenhearted and depressed require someone to lift up their chins and look into their eyes and tell them they can have hope, that we are in this together and they are not alone.
God knew that teenage Mary had the strength to carry the son of God and believe in His resurrection. Jesus saw strength in the eyes of Mary Magdalene, when she broke the alabaster jar over the feet of her redeemer, while all the men in the room scorned her. Jesus praised the sick woman whom, with a single act of faith, compelled His power to heal her. He knew the woman who’d been caught in adultery could have the strength to “go and sin no more.”
How can God ask us to be strong, in the face of human crisis? Sometimes the news of school shootings and war, natural disasters and poverty, displacement and sex-trafficking, can be overwhelming. Sometimes the demand from our children, our jobs, our parents and even our own expectations of ourselves can be overwhelming enough. We can be strong because He was strong in life and in death and in His resurrection.
Isaiah 61:1-7 prophesied of the redemptive heart of Jesus for our broken world:
“The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me.
He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners.
God sent me to announce the year of his grace—
a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies— and to comfort all who mourn,
To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion, give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,
Messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.
Rename them “Oaks of Righteousness” planted by God to display his glory.
They’ll rebuild the old ruins, raise a new city out of the wreckage.
They’ll start over on the ruined cities, take the rubble left behind and make it new.
You’ll hire outsiders to herd your flocks and foreigners to work your fields,
But you’ll have the title “Priests of God,” honored as ministers of our God.
You’ll feast on the bounty of nations, you’ll bask in their glory.
Because you got a double dose of trouble and more than your share of contempt,
Your inheritance in the land will be doubled and your joy go on forever.
Yes, Jesus went to the cross to get great strength for us. He started this work and trusted it to us until His return. We can walk in the strength and power of His Holy Spirit, knowing that God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength. We, the church: men AND women of every age, of every color, of every nation, truly are the hope of the world. Jesus is clothing you with strength and dignity for today and every day ahead. There is much to be done!
Happy International Women’s Day!
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