Stronger Women

At the Women’s Retreat last week, I borrowed an idea from Jeremiah Burrough’s work on contentment and gave the following definition to the ladies.

The quiet strength of a godly woman is that sweet, submitted, grace-reliant determination of the female heart to honor Christ without comparison or complaint in all the relationships and situations of life.

On Friday evening we did a character study on Martha & Mary, looked Saturday morning at the devotional nature of Mary as revealed in her Magnificat, then finished up Saturday afternoon with a “girl’s talk” that addressed everything from depression to mission work.  As  soon as the talks are available, you can find them at the RP Women’s Retreat website (just ignore the pictures of the goofy guy you’ll find there).

In the meantime, how about three stories of women exhibiting this quiet strength?  They demonstrate what I could only preach.

First is Audrey Joseph, who is planning to join an orphanage devoted to caring for the children of lepers in northern India.  She has been working on raising her support, and we are excited to hear this past week she reached her funding levels and will be leaving at the end of the month.  The Lord answered many prayers and did much in a short amount of time.  Her pastor and our fellow blogger Jared Olivetti just sent out word they will be sending her into this service on the Lord’s Day evening of October 30th.  Praise the Lord of the orphan and widow!

Next is Katie Long, the daughter of Pastor Dave Long in Lafayette, Indiana.  Katie went through three back operations in six years to straighten her severely curved spine.  The agonizing pain she suffered through from the surgeries, medications, and mistreatments was unbearable, and seeing her suffer was heart wrenching for those who love her.  Dave & Katie have put together a testimony of this journey.  I have listened to it twice – first at a Father & Daughter banquet, then on this webinar.  Hearing of how Christ came to Katie through His means of grace will leave you humbled.  Praise the Lord who identifies with us in our pain!  (You may have to sign up to Fuze to listen to this.)

Finally is a story you may have heard, but it bears repeating.  Stacie Crimm was pregnant when she found out she had head and neck cancer.  Rather than take treatments that would harm the life of her child, she chose her child’s life over her own.  Even the Huffington Post was amazed, as this video shows. Praise the Lord who gave His life for us!

8 Comments

  1. Rose October 23, 2011 at 9:03 am #

    How did you get “without comparison” out of a passage in which Jesus uses a comparative? What is a “female heart”? I guess i should have attended the retreat. Thanks!

  2. Barry York October 24, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    Rose,

    Let me answer the second question first as it addresses the theme of our time. In addressing a gathering of women about the subject of strength, I clarified that strength should not be strictly associated with men as it often can be. However, we went on to study how a woman’s strength should generally have a more quiet nature than the “loud” strength of a man. Though we acknowledged both sexes are made in the image of God, we noted there are wonderful differences not only in the bodies but the souls of men and women due to their perceptions, propensities, desires, God-given roles, etc. The term “female heart” was a way then to stress the unique nature of a woman.

    With respect to your first question, one of the sinful propensities the Scriptures address in women, arising out of their more nurturing nature, is to be overly sensitive and concerned about what others are doing. Such was Martha’s case. Martha was lovingly rebuked by the Lord for comparing her service to Mary’s in her complaint. This was not to say that men do not compare themselves (the disciples are proof-positive of that in their “who’s the greatest” arguments!), but this was to stress that a woman will find her strength being compromised if she gives into complaining by comparing her situation to that of others.

    Thank you for asking!

  3. Rose October 26, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

    Could you direct me to a sound study that develops this idea that women and men are different not only physically, but also spiritually? I’m not seeing that the strength of a man should be “loud.” Aren’t men enjoined to live quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and dignity? Aren’t both men and women enjoined to “act like men” in being courageous and standing firm in their faith?

    If strength is associated with men exclusively, that is a mistake indeed. Proverbs 31 is clear enough on that. It seems to me that it is a cultural error to see the strength of a man as different than the strength of a woman as regards their spirits. “God is a spirit, infinite, eternal and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.” All of the communicable attributes belong to all those created in God’s image. And then there is the reality that it is the same Spirit that indwells all Christians and was poured out in the New Covenant on both sons and daughters. Does the Bible really teach that men and women are different spiritually? Yikes, no wonder I was puzzled about “female heart.” I would have expected “human heart” or just “heart” and the Burrough’s quote could have been used for godly men, too.

  4. Barry York October 27, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    Dear Rose,

    I’ll be glad to answer your first question below, but will decline answering the rest. One of those distinct differences between the genders that I seek to practice is never to argue with a lady, which I feel this discussion could become. For example, we seem to both agree that Proverbs 31 shows the strength of a woman, for indeed it says itself in verse 25, “Strength and beauty are her clothing.” Yet you say you clearly see this proving that men and women’s strength are the same, whereas I see here the demonstration of the very thing of which I spoke, namely, a glorious display of quiet feminine strength in a wife that is markedly different than what her husband’s would be. So if we cannot agree even on that at this point, I’m afraid further dialogue would not be profitable. Besides – and here I go again – a guy never wins when he argues with a woman!

    So regarding the resources that teach and display the spiritual nature of a woman as fully reflecting God’s image yet distinct in ways from that of men, here are five keys ones I have benefited from below. I hope you will study them and find answers to your other questions. I invite readers to suggest other resources as well.

    1) Biblical Manhood & Womanhood book, edited by John Piper. Though much of this book deals with the relationship of men and women, and my talks were more deliberately just on femininity, many of the chapters explain differences in the genders that extend beyond the physical. This comment from Frame (p. 232) is typical to the resources I read (though I did not get my title for the conference from it as I had settled on that with the organizers before I read this):

    “The body of a godly woman often serves as an appropriate accompaniment to her personality, reinforcing our impression of her inner meekness and quiet strength.”

    2) Famous Women of the Reformed Church, James Isaac Good

    3) Female Piety, John Angell James

    4) Let Me Be a Woman, Elizabeth Elliot

    5) Many blogs, such as Girl’s Talk by Carolyn Mahaney, regularly write on women’s issues and I found them helpful.

  5. Deb October 28, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    Perhaps you could elaborate on “female” heart through the Hebrew and Greek use of heart– mind, will (volition) and emotion.

    • Barry York November 11, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

      Deb: Thanks for the encouragement. I have sought to do that in my most recent post.

  6. Rose November 7, 2011 at 11:51 am #

    I might take a look at some of your recommendations, but your inclusion of Carolyn Mahaney’s “Girl Talk” gives me pause. What she does is not “sound study,” if it is study at all, and the “women’s issues” she discusses are extremely narrow and focused on her own life and preferences. My own experience with a “Sovereign Grace Ministries”-affiliated congregation has made me keenly aware that a good deal of discernment is required when listening to self-appointed, untrained, and independent “apostles” like CJ Mahaney. Have you tested what you read in that blog against the teaching of Scripture? Phil. 1:9-11.

    • Barry York November 11, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

      Rose: A reference is not an endorsement of all a book or blog contains. We are always to be discerning. I’ve tried to clarify my position in my most recent post.

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