Filed under Biblical Womanhood 52home
2:17 p.m. Chart Completed
There are few times I feel less spiritual than when I face physical and hormonal challenges such as PMS and (now) menopause. I feel tired and irritable, my sin sometimes spilling over onto those around me.
My strategy has often been to try and wait it out. Once this is over, I tell myself, then I’ll get back to making progress in the Christian life. I forget that I am smack in the middle of God’s plan for my life! God has ordained these hormonal days along with all the others! Menopause isn’t simply a trial to get through. It’s an opportunity for testing faith and spiritual growth.
Elizabeth Prentiss beautifully expresses this point:
“God never place us in any position in which we can not grow. We may fancy that He does. We may fear we are so impeded by fretting, petty cares that we are gaining nothing; but when we are not sending any branches upward, we may be sending roots downward. Perhaps in the time of our humiliation, when everything seems a failure, we are making the best kind of progress.”
The best kind of progress. Far from precipitating a spiritual decline, we often grow more in these difficult seasons than when life is easy, and we feel like we’re flourishing (remember, those feelings can’t be trusted!)
That’s why the apostle Paul sees weakness as an opportunity for boasting in the Lord:
“But [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
For the sake of Christ, we are to boast in our weaknesses, we are to be content in menopause or PMS or postpartum depression. For when we are weak, it is then that His power rests on us. What an opportunity!
—from the archives
These fears come in all shapes, sizes and packages. I don’t need to suggest any for you. You know what your fears for your children are. You were probably thinking of them just this morning.
In his book Running Scared (which I highly recommend), Ed Welch gives us the biblical solution to our fears: we need to fear more. We need to fear God more. For “when you fear the Lord, there is not much else to fear.” The fear of the Lord banishes our fears for our children. Dr. Welch illustrates:
“If you are trained in medicine and have parented five children, you aren’t going to worry when your neighbor asks you to watch her ten-year-old for twenty minutes. If you really want to fight fear, learn to fear Someone who captures your attention in such a way that your other fears suddenly seem pedestrian and unimportant.”
But there’s more. When we learn to fear God, we will actually be protecting our children. Proverbs 14:26 says, “He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.”
So if you want to be rid of those nagging fears and be a means of God’s protection for your children, fear the Lord today. Allow His wisdom, goodness, love, power and holiness to capture your attention. Then tell your kids about the awesome God we serve.
—from the archives
“Facing our fears” is the topic of this week’s Womanly Dominion book club. In this recession, perhaps some of you are tempted to fear and anxiety about money; maybe you are up against major life changes or an uncertain financial future. Maybe you don’t know where to turn.
As one reader commented “It’s strange how finances are such a taboo topic. When someone struggles with an illness or physical difficulty, we are open and are able to talk as a community about what the Lord is doing through it, but finances are different.”
Our Lord doesn’t hesitate to address our fears about money: “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.” (Matt. 6:25). Instead of worrying about money we should trust our Heavenly Father.
“Do you trust the King who is also your Father?” Scripture puts this question to us, says author Ed Welch:
“Our Answer? ‘Sort of….a little….usually.’ We sort of want…to trust the King—until life gets precarious. When everything is going well and the storehouses are full, we trust him. But when there is nothing for tomorrow, we panic and track down the address of another god who can give us enough for tomorrow and the next day too….Our trust is divided. We don’t put all our eggs in one basket—even God’s—because that’s too risky.”
No matter our fears about finances—or anything else—let’s turn away from false gods and “put all our eggs in God’s basket.” As Mark Chanski reminds us, He is worthy of our trust.
“Should I need to endure my worst nightmare, He’ll be there, to uphold me so I don’t collapse or breakdown in despair. As Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego found a sustaining and supporting Helper in their fiery ordeal (Daniel 3:25), so will I not be left to walk alone either. Therefore, we will not fear”! This enables me to eye yonder furnace with a holy calm, to say as I draw potentially near to it, “It is well with my soul.”
—from the archives
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:4-7
These verses describe the stuff of sowing. We must talk to our children every day, instruct them throughout the day, teach them in every circumstance, train them on every occasion, tell them God’s words over and over again.
Sowing can be hard work. Sometimes exhausting work. We moms can wonder: Is anything getting through? Will this child ever get it? We may feel our words are falling on deaf ears; that our efforts are in vain.
Oh, but let’s keep reading in Deuteronomy chapter six. Look at the hope and encouragement we find in verse 20:
“When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?’
Though it is not a promise, there is much encouragement we can draw from this verse; because there is a time coming when it won’t simply be us doing all the talking, teaching, and instructing. One day our children will act in response to our instruction. They will come with questions of their own. They will inquire about the meaning of God’s words. They will desire to understand God’s ways for themselves.
Now that “time to come” is different for every child. It’s sooner for some, later for others. Scripture does not give us an exact timetable for the duration of sowing. But Scripture does tell us: “In due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).
—from the archives
Our good friend Cindy from PA sent us this cute anecdote.
Have a super weekend,
Nicole for my mom and sisters
A mom was concerned about her kindergarten son walking to school. He didn’t want his mother to walk with him. She wanted to give him the feeling that he had some independence but yet know that he was safe. So she had an idea of how to handle it.
She asked a neighbor if she would please follow him to school in the mornings, staying at a distance, so he probably wouldn’t notice her. She said that since she was up early with her toddler anyway, it would be a good way for them to get some exercise as well, so she agreed.
The next school day, the neighbor and her little girl set out following behind Timmy as he walked to school with another neighbor girl he knew. She did this for the whole week. As the two walked and chatted, kicking stones and twigs, Timmy’s little friend noticed the same lady was following them as she seemed to do every day all week.
Finally she said to Timmy, ‘Have you noticed that lady following us to school all week? Do you know her?’
Timmy nonchalantly replied, ‘Yeah, I know who she is.’
The little girl said, ‘Well, who is she?’‘
That’s just Shirley Goodnest,’ Timmy replied, ‘and her daughter Marcy.
’‘Shirley Goodnest? Who is she and why is she following us?’
‘Well,’ Timmy explained, ‘every night my Mom makes me say the 23rd Psalm with my prayers, ‘cuz she worries about me so much. And in the Psalm, it says, ‘Shirley Goodnest and Marcy shall follow me all the days of my life’, so I guess I’ll just have to get used to it!’
—from the archives
“She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:12
Before we become discouraged by our utter inability to measure up to the Proverbs 31 woman’s standard, we must first remember that the picture here is not one of perfection but of consistency and faithfulness.
All of us have no doubt fallen short many times. There are often days where in one way or another I fail to do good to my husband—whether by sins I commit against him, or opportunities to do him good that I miss or ignore.
But we can grow to resemble more and more this portrait of the Proverbs 31 woman—even after our failures, in spite of our weaknesses and temptations, and in the face of great trials or challenges in our marriage. We can persist in doing our husband good.
Here is not only consistency but perfection: all. Here is not simply good intentions but certain fulfillment: surely. Here we find not only acts of goodness but abundant, overwhelming goodness—because this goodness is from God Himself, come to us through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
I once heard John Piper explain that the word “follow” in this verse could be more accurately translated “pursues.” God, with goodness and mercy in hand, pursues us. He hunts us down, in the midst of our sins, failures, in the midst of the trials and difficulties in our marriage.
He is eager to give us conviction for sin, forgiveness in Christ, a renewed desire to do our husband good, strength to persevere (even in a difficult marriage) and faith to see Him working all things for our good.
So how do we do our husband good? First and foremost remember that God has and is pursuing us with His goodness and mercy all the days of our lives.
—from the archives
Q. “I am curious what you ladies might have to say on the topic of dealing with the grief that comes from the ending of a relationship, particularly when a woman believed it would end in marriage.”
A. This question immediately brought back memories of a similar season that I experienced in my relationship with Mike. Although the Lord ultimately planned marriage for us, there was a period of time when it appeared our relationship was over for good. And while I realize that not all stories have the same ending, the issues God was after in my heart are the same for all of us—whether or not we eventually get married, and regardless of the nature of our disappointed hope.
When Mike and I ended our relationship, it was after many months of mutual feelings, and much time spent pursuing marriage. Before the decision to call things off, we would both have been pretty confident marriage to each other was in our future (Read the long version of our story here.) So, upon ending our relationship, I was immediately faced with the temptation to despair. What was God doing? Why was I so confused? I thought Mike was the one! The tears were many, just ask my mom.
This decision marked the beginning of one of the biggest battles I had yet to face in my walk with the Lord. The fight for FAITH. Did I really believe what I had been taught from Scripture about God’s sovereignty? Did I trust God that He had a perfect plan for my life? Was I confident that He would reveal His will to me, in His good time? Could I be happy if His plan didn’t include marriage? I’m sorry to say that my answer to many of these questions was often a resounding “no.” I thought that my ideas and plans were best. If only the Lord would speak more clearly. If only He would do it this way—MY way.
How grateful I am for the mercy of God upon my life during this struggle. Through the leadership of my parents, I began to press into God’s Word in a most intense way. I spent hours studying “faith” and “sovereignty” in the Bible, and talking through the issues of sin in my heart with others. The book Is God Really in Control? (previously entitled Trusting God) by Jerry Bridges became a faithful friend to me. I read this book over and over again. Quotes like these fed my soul…
“God in His infinite wisdom knows exactly what adversity we need to grow more and more into the likeness of His Son. He not only knows what we need but when we need it and how best to bring it to pass in our lives. He is the perfect teacher or coach. His discipline is always exactly suited for our needs. He never over trains us by allowing too much adversity in our lives.” Page 122
“If we are to experience peace in our souls in times of adversity, we must come to the place where we truly believe that God’s ways are simply beyond us and stop asking Him “why” or even trying to determine it ourselves. This may seem like an intellectual “cop out,” a refusal to deal with the really tough issues of life. In fact, it is just the opposite. It is a surrender to the truth about God and our circumstances as it is revealed to us by God Himself in His inspired Word.” Page 126-7
Slowly, I cannot tell you exactly when, my heart began to change. I still didn’t know if marriage was in my future, but my heart was at peace in the sovereignty of my good and loving Father. I wanted His perfect plan to be fulfilled in my life.
If you find yourself in a similar situation today (and this fight for faith is certainly not limited to the arena of marriage), I would encourage you to take drastic action. Renew your mind with the consistent study of God’s Word. Purchase Jerry Bridges’ book and pursue the counsel and help of a pastor and godly friends. Grace awaits you!
“The heart of man plans his way but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
—from the archives