“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:13
Last week, our five year old son was staring intently at my upper arms – you know it, the back side of the upper arm. That place where tank tops can no longer provide shelter as we shed our sweaters from the cooler months. Our son states innocently enough, “Mommy, your arms need more muscles.”
Rewind the tapedeck 20 years or so, and you will find me in the same conversation, about my weight, with an aging relative. Needless to say, I have struggled in this area for the majority of my life.
Whether it is weight or wrinkles, academics or acne, I imagine that most women have felt second best at least one point in their lives. Probably, even the most highly regarded of royalty must have compared herself to another beauty, right?
I ran my finger across the book of Proverbs recently, the ‘Proverbs 31 woman’, the perfect wife of noble character. Yes, that one. Upon first glance, it seems I don’t measure up – figuratively and realistically speaking. But then I looked deeper at each verse – and that, my friends, changed everything.
These arms have hung up the laundry on the line, they have planted vegetables in the garden, and they have washed and dried, cooked and laundered. They have held and hugged when owies happen on the sidewalk. These arms have swept floors and sidelined arguments, they have chopped and cooked. These arms have sustained my tired hands as they are lifted up to pray and to hold my eyebrows up while applying mascara. My dear Son, these arms have done all these things in a mere 24 hours.
Then Proverbs 31:13-22 says, “She works with eager hands, she provides food for her family, she opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. She makes coverings for her bed.”
God’s instruction for the noble woman shines a light on two very important features of our bodies – our hands and arms. Women were designed in Genesis 2:18 to be the helper to Adam. Proverbs 31 then provides wives the particulars of our God-given responsibility.
But how do we apply these beautiful tasks into our daily lives, and more importantly, run that long race of seeking grace, when scrambling schedules and finicky finances of the world put a damper on our desires of the Lord?
When Vigilance Brings Victory
Colossians 4:2 provides us all with an important life instruction, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Have you ever been in the grocery store, toting your tribe, and a sweet stranger remarks about how full your hands are? You smile politely and mention something about the fullness of your heart and carry on with the beautiful chaos of the day. The book of Good News is fuller than your shopping cart, with words jumping off the page reminding us to be thankful in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). In fact, this is God’s will for us. Created in His image, His perfect design for us is to stay vigilant in this dark, restless world. He desires an intimate, personal relationship with you and with me. He is always near to us, pursuing us, but if we are not regularly seeking Him and being refreshed in His Word and His wonder, we will be an easy target to fall away. 1 Peter 5:8-9 reminds us to “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith..” Don’t be an easy target to the enemy; fight the evils around you by reading the promises in the bible and through prayers and petitions to our Living God.
From Endurance to Eternity
Colossians 1:11-12 says, “being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father…” When these verses are unpacked, I see many treasures in it. First, the strength God gives us is a magnificent force direct from Him. Second, this strength gives us VIP access to the stamina to run this long and weary race. There is no way we could do this on our own, we need supernatural power from God to finish it, and finish it well. True victory is found in our eternal salvation, given to us from the death of our Christ Jesus. The Apostle Paul confirmed this in 2 Timothy 2:10, saying, “Therefore, I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” Paul later writes in verse 11, that “if we endure, we will also reign with Him.” Keep your eyes on the prize, the ultimate prize of spending eternity with Jesus.
When Perseverance Brings Promises
When was the last time you felt lucky to be struggling? The afflictions that we face are not initially met with a blinking welcome sign. However, when you reflect upon the hardest struggles you have faced in life, you may find that an extreme amount of spiritual growth had occurred there and likely there was a picture of you clinging to Jesus, because that’s all you really had to hang onto. James was also a servant of the Lord, and he writes in James 1:12, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” If we dig further into the Gospel, we see that we are being directed to persevere so that when we have done the will of God, we will receive what He has promised. (Hebrews 10:36) He gives us the strength and the ability to endure these trials, and Hebrews 10:39 states, “But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”
As women, we have these arms and hands to do the heavy lifting of rising up our homes to honor Christ. Our arms may not physically show a defined strength given from hours at the gym, but rather a supernatural strength of weathering daily squalls and scuffles.
Jesus has done the eternal heavy lifting for us, through His death on the cross. Lift up your arms in prayer and praise to our Savior. Be encouraged today that God sees your heart, my friends. He is not swayed by aging arms and wrinkled hands, He sees your desire to be more like Him and reflect His beautiful radiance.
Melissa Falde is a wife, a mother and a follower of Jesus.
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