Learning from Those Who Have Gone Before Us

Learning from Those

This past year I’ve had the joy of nourishing my soul through reading the Bible chronologically.  The Bible is one story that reveals the Author and Creator of all life, pointing us to the gospel of Jesus Christ on every page. If you have never read the Bible from cover to cover and would like to, Unlocking the Bible has a helpful reading plan you can follow in their LifeKEYS Daily devotional.

As I read through each book of God’s Word, I made note of women who, by God’s grace, glorified God in difficult circumstances. The example they set for us, in spite of the unique pressures they faced, encourages us to be faithful through our own trials. Let’s peek into just a few of their lives as seen through the Old Testament .

Mrs. Noah: We don’t even know this woman’s first name, but I have no doubt she was a blessing to her husband!  I don’t suspect that this couple had much of a social calendar as most people likely considered Noah the town joke. This would have been particularly hard for Mrs. Noah, a woman created by God for relationship just as we are. As Noah obeyed God, gathering gopher wood to build an ark that would protect all who found shelter there from God’s judgment, I imagine the encouragement of his wife helped him get out of bed each morning.

Mrs. Noah reminds me of the importance of having my husband’s back when life seems bent against him. Proverbs 31 tells us that the heart of an excellent wife’s husband trusts in her and he will have no lack of gain-even if the only other ones following him are a bunch of animals walking two by two.

Sarah: I got a small glimpse into what it might have been like for Sarah to leave life as she knew it when, weeks into our marriage, my husband announced that he had been transferred cross country, meaning we were leaving family, friends, and a job I loved to go to a place I didn’t want to go.

God’s grace was clearly at work in Sarah as she said good-bye to her comfortable life to become a nomad, all  based on a promise that God had given her husband Abraham. Sarah demonstrates her humanity in many ways for which I’m grateful, but Peter reveals the key to her strength and faithfulness. She put her hope in God and did not give way to fear.

There is a lot to fear today and, unless our hope is anchored in Christ, we will be a slave to our emotions which will be driven by our current circumstances. Sarah’s submissive spirit encourages me that, in the hands of a gracious God, a strong-willed, impatient woman can become adorned with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. (1 Peter 3:4-6).

Hannah didn’t have the one thing she wanted more than anything else, a baby. God had closed her womb and, in spite of Elkanah’s love for her, he couldn’t give her a child. But Hannah wasn’t looking to her husband;  she looked and prayed to the Author and Creator of life.

The book of Samuel lets us see that Hannah’s desire exceeded bearing a son simply for her own pleasure. Hannah vowed that if God would give her a child, she would give him back for the Lord’s service as soon as he was weaned. In God’s kindness, He answered her prayer and she gave birth to Samuel, whom God anointed as prophet and priest to Israel.

Hannah challenges me to pray bold prayers that are driven, first and foremost, by a desire to advance God’s kingdom and accomplish His purposes.

Deborah lived in a day when people had turned away from God to worship other gods.  It was a sad time in Israel’s history yet, in His mercy, God raised up the prophetess Deborah who was also a judge.  Scripture refers to this gifted woman as a mother in Israel, reminding us that God uses godly women to bring individuals, families, and even nations back to a right relationship with God.

In God’s goodness, He designed women with a unique ability to influence those around them. That means that when we set our affections upon Christ, we can have the privilege of leaving a legacy that reverberates throughout the generations and eternity!

Deborah was a wise woman who used the leadership gifts God gave her for the good of His people rather than her own glory.  She affirmed male leadership while encouraging Barak’s obedience simply with her presence.  I want to be like Deborah who avoided the snares of early feminism and used her womanhood to bring glory to God instead. 

Ruth was a Moabite widow who chose to leave her own people out of love for her widowed mother-in-law Naomi. Declaring that “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God,” Ruth reminds us that faith means trusting God completely with an unknown future.

Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi, in spite of a spirit of bitterness that had settled upon the older woman due to grief, teaches us that sacrificial love for others is the natural response of those who have decided to follow Jesus.

Esther was called “for such a time as this,” when God chose her to serve Him as a queen and to be His instrument for the saving of His people. I love the way we can see God’s sovereignty over every event that ensured Israel’s survival. It reminds me that God has everything in my life under control too and that, even when circumstances seem devastating or hopeless; I can have confidence that they are all part of His good plan to conform me to Christ’s image and bring the greatest eternal joy.

Esther did nothing to promote or bring attention to herself. To the contrary, I expect it was quite traumatic to be taken from her uncle’s home to the king’s palace with an uncertain future. But God was watching over Esther, providing for her and giving her favor in the king’s eyes. And in the moment offered, Esther chose to risk everything for the salvation of her people.

Esther reminds me to count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Philippians 3:8)

Each of these women are  heroes of faith whose example I want to follow by God’s grace. Next time we will look at the lives of a few New Testament women.

Thanks for letting me share my thoughts with you,

Linda

 

 


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