We identify with people based on shared commonalities. For example, when I’m in the mood to be creative or feel like an “adult”, I start cooking, search for food blogs, or look for fellow foodies on Instagram. Likewise, if I’m preparing for a half-marathon, I find fit people online to give me inspiration and I gravitate towards the athletic types in my social circles.
We all feel a little safer with those that we can identify with, and lean towards those that we can share stories with. And THAT is exactly why I don’t like reading Proverbs 31.
For so many women, Proverbs 31 has become this measuring stick of perfection that I associate with white doilies and shallow conversation lacking heart and empathy. If I see “Proverbs 31” mentioned anywhere, I avoid that ministry like the plague, groan internally, and my shoulders slump. The truth is, I simply cannot identify with the woman described in that chapter.
Thankfully, I have found other examples of godly women I CAN identify with in the Bible! Hannah, for example. After feeling inferior because of self-imposed comparison to another woman for years, and after feeling like a failure as a wife,
“In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly.” (1 Samuel 1:10)
That single verse hits my heart in its very core.
Or what about Naomi? After losing her husband, and then her two sons, she hopelessly said to her daughters-in-law:
“’Don’t call me Naomi (pleasant),” she told them. “Call me Mara (bitter), because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.’” Ruth 1:20-21, notes mine.
I can’t identify with a ‘perfect’ life, but I can identify with imperfection and heartache. Although the woman described in Proverbs 31 may have gone through a lot to become who she was, we only read the results of presumed struggles. However, I can definitely identify with Hannah’s feeling of rejection and inferiority, and I can identify with Naomi’s feelings of loss and hopelessness. Both women may have thought:
“My way is hidden from the Lord, and my just claim is passed over by my God” Isaiah 40:27.
But, we cannot stay in the place of hurt and rejection. Let us also remember the truth. God eventually brought the hope, justice, and love each woman needed. He did NOT abandon them or leave them in a place of despair. Hannah received the baby she prayed for and Naomi received the family and security she thought were lost forever.
Neither woman turned her back on God, but with honesty acknowledged the truth of her situation, hung on to life…and waited. And God fulfilled each hearts’ need and desire. His answers were unexpected, but each answer was satisfying. Heartache turned to joy!
Be encouraged! If you are going through something hard, oppressive, or seemingly hopeless. God has not disappeared!
“Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40: 28-31)
Wait, pray, and seek God. He will be found. And for me that’s what it looks like … just living the thing.