Often overlooked and undervalued, the women in the Scripture have many interesting stories to tell. Some of the most well known names find their stories lost to what many consider the larger story, such as Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist or Sarah the wife of Abraham. With more than 100 women mentioned in the Bible, how many times do we forget to look at what they offer us?
When I first I began my study of the various women found in the Scriptures, I thought the endeavor might not take too long. Like many, I immediately thought of Mary, Eve, and Esther. Perhaps a handful of others. Yet, when I sat down to really contemplate it, the list grew by leaps and bounds.
I had no idea what my end goal might be, other than taking a different look at the Scriptures and what they offered me, as a woman. A different look at popular Bible stories and the women in them. How could I fathom that the entire way I envisioned each woman would not only grow, but change immensely.
The study idea began after a particularly lengthy prayer following some heavy duty reflections on my life. As many find, the twists and turns on the road we follow generally takes us in directions not planned. Sometimes the turns bring satisfaction and pride in accomplishments, while at other times we find ourselves disappointed at our shortcomings.
My life felt completely off-track of my hopes and dreams. Some of the off-roading brought fun, but some of it brought a lot of thick mud that I wanted to scrub away. These feelings prompted me to kneel down and pray in the first place. As many know, prayers often take on a life of their own.
A strong impression washed over me. An impression to turn aside more traditional study methods. Generally speaking, I would sit down and read strait through the Scriptures. Sometimes I might choose a particular subject or well known story if I felt it fit the happenings of my current day, though not often. Alongside the Scriptures, I would use a plethora of commentary books to further my understanding of Gospel topics.
Gospel topics. That is it exactly. I focused on the topics. These are good things like prayer, or faith, or preparing for the second coming. Charity, love, or obedience. The lists go on and on, just look in your concordance.
Topics may normally top the list for excellent study methods, I instead felt drawn to search out the women and read their stories. To reach out to these sisters and relate with them. To follow these, my fore mothers, as a dutiful daughter learning from their skills and mentoring.
Sometimes, I feel as though I am still in the process of growing up, though I am thirty-something. In my fits of immaturity, I deny and hate that thirty-something, though I know I can do nothing to change the fact. The truth, though, is that we find ourselves all locked in the process of growing up spiritually speaking. Isn’t that why we are on this earth?
Another thought came to my mind. “You are not alone.” This went different than the usual Christian viewpoint of God walks with you or that a loving Savior took all of the pains I feel upon Himself. No, this was more a feeling of something else. I soon realized that it meant others truly walked in my shoes before me. My problems were nothing new or unique to me. I was not alone in my experiences.
Though I never thought my life might be a cakewalk, I definitely never imagined adulthood to hold near as many of the trials it has. Nor so many in such a short amount of time. I have the mixed blessing of experiencing many of the trials that my sisters once suffered through. Trials that friends must endure today. I wonder, once in a while, if I took a heaping helping of tribulation when I sat down at the dinner table of life.
Looking at the trials in my life, particularly the ones embroiling me at the time, taking a look at other women might not be such a bad idea. To see what other women did in similar situations could do me a lot of good.
I married my husband at 19, he was only 20. That is a trial in and of itself, but all marriages are. Far too many fall into the trap of thinking marriage is easy. Men take work, and wrangling one is not for the faint of heart. I am sure men would say the same for us women.
At the time we married, my husband served in the United States military. We lived in three homes by our first anniversary. His paychecks were so low, I wonder sometimes how we managed to pay rent and eat in the same month. I suppose we were poor, but sometimes I miss the simplicity of those days.
Over the years we have experienced most everything a couple can go through. Now we head toward our 14th anniversary and sometimes I wonder if we are not worse off than when we got married. I feel it safe to say that in the fourteen years, I have experienced a lifetime of trials and adventure. I get the idea that is not about to change anytime soon. However, do we grow complacent about things we marveled in as newlyweds?
Perhaps the trials prepared me for what the Lord wanted me to study after a heartfelt prayer given one day? Would I be so willing to follow the promptings without my trials? Or maybe for some other purpose? I trust the Lord to lead me in the right direction and that each lesson given is one necessary for my life.
I find myself once more mentioning my prayer. After what seemed like an insurmountable hurdle in my life, I felt at my wits end. How could I manage to go on one more day? Seems when the trials are insurmountable is when we pray the hardest. In desperation, pleading for understanding, and feeling as miserable and low as a person can get, I wanted very much for some comfort.
Ask and ye shall receive.
I know that He is always close by, but when climbing the rocky path on this dreary planet it is far too easy to let the loneliness creep in. Some of the curve balls life throws at you are easy to share, easy to get support from friends and family. Others are not. I find it easy to speak of my experiences of having a child with cancer, while other trials remain hidden in my heart and shared only with the Lord.
Going through the hidden things is what I find the most difficult and the most lonely. My heart wins out over my head, convincing me that no one could possibly understand. My head tells me of course other women have gone through this, but I still cannot share.
Knowing this about me, the Lord led me to those women who’s stories unfold in the pages of Scripture. There is someone in the Bible going through any trial you can go through today. The pages overflow with stories of infertility, becoming a widow, losing a child, infidelity, and illness.
“Find strength in your fellow women.” The answer from the still, small voice.
Strength. In others. Will help me. Such a simple answer, yet not so simple after all.
Opening the Scriptures, I read. Jumping around, finding women, reading their stories. Before long I realized I was not just reading their stories. Something inside of me started to truly ponder on these women, and before I knew it… I was walking alongside of them. Sharing my lives with them just as they shared theirs with me. “Hannah, I too prayed for a child when I thought I could not have one.” “Eve, I feel cast out sometimes. How did you get through it?” No, I did not study them, I walked with these women.
All because of a prayer at my most low moment. “Help me, Lord,” I pleaded. He told me what to do
So I rose from my kneeling and begin my walk. They are just as much your sisters as mine, so I invite all to walk with me. Learn with me. Share your wisdom with me as I share my insights with you.
Thank you to Rahab, the woman at the well, Naomi, and all you women that came before me. I started this walk alone, and now you completely encircle me, falling in step beside me, helping me through my life by sharing yours.
*Welcome to a new series for my blog. I’ve been working on this for a while. Not as dilligently as I probably should have at times. Each woman that I study, I shall write an essay for her. Released on roughly a weekly basis, I hope to bring you a new essay each Sunday. Obviously some women will take much more study than others, but I will do my best to have an essay each week.
Originally posted on ladyozma.vox.com