Proverbs 31:25, Hebrews 12:2
My senior year of high school (what seems to be a lifetime ago now) I adopted what most call their “life verse”. I always had a hard time with this concept because there are so many Scriptures that the Lord has used at different stages in my life as reminders, or Ebenezers, that He was, is and will always be present and in control.
During that year I did a study walking through Proverbs 31 and the Lord revealed a lot to me about who I was called to be as a woman of Christ. As a woman and future wife, I am to work hard (vs. 12-14), provide food for my family, to help those in need (vs. 20), to speak wisdom and be filled with faithful instruction (vs. 26).
For some reason verse 25 always stuck with me. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. Yes. That is the woman I want to be. The one I want to become and pray to embody every day.
But as I study through each section of this verse, what seems to be simple language turns out to be tall orders if I am relying on anything apart from God’s strength.
The word strength means the ability to resist being moved or broken by a force or the quality that allows someone to deal with problems in a determined and effective way. (Merriam Webster Dictionary)
The word dignity means a way of appearing or behaving that suggests seriousness and self-control.
And then I’m called to laugh. Laugh without fearing what is to come in the future. And reading that verse gets me pretty fired up about God’s calling over me. It gets me excited to use my spiritual gifts in the ways He has called me to ministry.
All those things sounded great my senior year of high school when the biggest worry or area of stress was who my prom date was going to be.
But what about when things get hard? Like that time I decided to train for my first half marathon? When Saturday morning long runs turned into 10, 11 or 12 miles there were days that didn’t feel so Proverbs 31-esque. I didn’t feel like resisting being moved or dealing with my problems in a determined way (my problem being finishing that run). And the reason I didn’t feel like it was because I was relying on my own strength and not leaning on the Lord with the athletic ability He gave me (no matter how small) to get through my first successful training cycle.
Or what about those moments in college where your convictions get tested? Sometimes appearing or behaving in a way that suggests seriousness and self-control isn’t so easy either.
The real test for me was a time where I really had to put the end of Proverbs 31:25 into practice. Last fall, I faced easily the hardest season of my (our) live(s) when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. How am I supposed to laugh without fear of the future when that is the card my family has been dealt?
One thing I’ve quickly learned is it’s impossible for me to approach life in any other way apart from relying on His strength and looking to and keeping my eyes on Jesus.
By His strength, I can resist being moved and can handle situations with determination.
By His power alone, I can behave in a way that suggests seriousness and self-control.
And by only His grace, I can laugh (or at least smile) without fear of the future.
The answer has always been and will always be Hebrews 12:2. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.