No matter our stage of life, all of us women need positive examples to challenge and encourage us in our walk with Christ. None of us are perfect, and our faith is strengthened by learning how to depend on God in the pressure of hard times.
The strength and grace displayed by these 10 mighty women of God in the Bible reflect that very truth. Their journeys, filled with brokenness and difficulty, offer us hope in whatever we may find ourselves facing today.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/John Fowler
Sarah, Abraham’s wife, was one of two women mentioned in Hebrews 11 who showed great faith in God. Though Abraham and Sarah were unable to have children for many years, God promised them a son. It’s hard to imagine all the pain and uncertainty they must have endured as the years ticked by and they tried to hold on to God’s promise. At first, Sarah doubted she could become pregnant in her old age; the Bible tells us that she even laughed at God (Genesis 18:12). But over time, she chose to believe God and trust in His timing and faithfulness.
And even in her old age, this beautiful, strong, faith-filled woman gave birth to her son Isaac, fulfilling the word of the Lord spoken years before and becoming a mother of a nation and a descendant of Christ. Sarah’s story is such a powerful reminder to us that when God speaks His promises over our lives, He will do what He says He will do. Nothing is too difficult for Him.
Photo Credit: unsplash/sergey-pesterev
Rahab was also one of the two women mentioned in the “Hall of Faith passage.” Though we don’t know all of Rahab’s circumstances, we do know this: God took the brokenness and shame of this courageous woman and turned it around for great good (Joshua 2; 6:22-23).
As a prostitute in Jericho, Rahab lived at the edge of the city, right on the wall. When the Israelite spies sought refuge, Rahab chose to hide them. This brave woman believed that Israel’s God was a God she could fully trust in, even in the face of possible death.
God greatly rewarded Rahab, providing protection for her and her entire family, and even appointing her to be in the lineage of Christ. Though Rahab’s past sought to hold her down, she chose to rise above her situation and allow God to work a miracle in her and through her. We still have so much to learn from this brave woman today.
Photo Credit: unsplash/Alexandru-Zdrobău
Deborah was the only woman judge of Israel. She was a prophetess, advisor, and wise counselor for her people. And when called on to lead, she bravely stepped up to accomplish what others were afraid to do.
She not only led her people into battle, but more importantly, she influenced them to live for God (Judges 4). Her life and service show us how important it is to be concerned for the welfare and spiritual condition of those we’ve been given to lead, and not just look out for our own success. This courageous woman’s life reminds us that God can accomplish great things through those who are willing to obey His leading.
The Bible is clear that God calls women to follow Him and to lead His people. He did then, years ago, and He does still today. May we be found faithful to walk in His guidance, to lead well, and to live strong in His promises of protection and faithfulness over our lives.
Photo Credit: Pixabay/succo
A woman of deep loyalty and grace, Ruth was determined to remain faithful to those she loved, even when it meant a potentially more difficult path. This popular verse has been recited by many throughout the years, pledging their loyalty and love: “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay, Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16).
Ruth showed discernment in following God’s lead and being willing to listen to the wisdom of her mother-in-law, Naomi, as they walked through uncertain times. She worked hard and took initiative when she could have just run back to an easier life or complained about her difficulties. And God brought her to Boaz, her kinsman-redeemer, who was a blessing far beyond what she’d ever expected. She even became an ancestor of Jesus through Boaz's family line.
Photo Credit: Thinkstock-AntGor
After many years of longing for a child, Hannah knew that God was the only one who could hear her prayer. She trusted His ability to work on her behalf, even when she didn’t understand her painful circumstances. And when God answered her prayer, she gave Him praise.
“Then Hannah prayed and said; ‘My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance. There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you, there is no Rock like our God’” (1 Samuel 2:1-2). This beautiful, anointed prayer of Hannah's continues for another eight verses.
Her story reminds us of the great faithfulness, power, and wisdom of God. There are never accidents in God’s timing and purpose.
Photo Credit: pixabay-Milada-Vigerova
When David and his men sought help from Nabal after showing great kindness to his servants, Nabal answered David with insults and ridicule. With a battle threatening, Abigail’s servants ran to her for help. The Bible tells us how she acted quickly and wisely to undo the harm her husband had brought on them.
Because of the humility and courage of Abigail to speak on behalf of her household, David showed mercy. He spoke this blessing over her life: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. May you be blessed for your good judgment…” (1 Samuel 25:32-33).
Abigail is an amazing example to all women today who may also find themselves in tough places. We can trust God’s leading and wisdom working in us and through us, no matter how hard the journey may be.
Photo Credit: unsplash-patrick-schneider
Often, we read this story and only think of Esther’s beauty and her royal position as queen. But we forget where she came from.
Life hadn’t gone Esther’s way. She was orphaned and had suffered great loss, even at a young age. She was then whisked away from everything she knew and taken to the king’s palace. Yet even when gifted with such a royal position, she still encountered hardship. Her people faced tragedy and destruction. She surely felt alone. She endured trial after trial, yet we see hope woven through every part of her story.
God is always at work even when we can’t see the whole story. And that sets the stage for great things to happen: “…And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14) This courageous woman faced a difficult situation with God’s wisdom and grace. She didn’t rely on anything or anyone except God Himself. And He acted powerfully on behalf of Queen Esther and her people.
Photo Credit: GettyImages
Mary was chosen by God to bring His Son into the world. Even at a young age, her obedience and courage to do whatever God asked of her was amazing. The Bible says that she “found favor with God.” And though her mind must have wrestled with many of the “hows” and “whys,” she answered His call by saying, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:26-38). When Mary visited Elizabeth, she burst into a powerful song of praise to God, which is widely known today as “The Magnificat” (Luke 1:46-55).
God’s word tells of Christ’s birth, his early days, and how Mary “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). And just as this strong, loving mother watched her baby take his first breath, the Bible reveals that she also watched Him suffer and breathe His last. Held by a Mighty God, she was entrusted to raise the Savior of the world. And she fulfilled her purpose with such strength and grace.
Photo Credit: Thinkstock_mrkornflakes
The Bible records that after years of not being able to have a child, this close relative of Mary’s had become pregnant with her son at a crucial time in history. We’re reminded through Elizabeth’s story that God’s timing is always perfect, though it may often seem “off” to us. For her son, John the Baptist, was destined to be the forerunner of Christ Himself.
When Elizabeth was visited by Mary, and heard her greeting, the Scripture says, “the baby leaped in her womb,” the Holy Spirit filled her, and she praised God, offering up blessings over Mary and her son (Luke 1:39-45). Elizabeth’s life is characterized by her continued faithfulness to God, even when she may have wondered what God was doing or why He wasn’t answering her prayers for a child. What a wonderful example of giving worship and praise to God for accomplishing in her life what He alone could do.
Photo Credit: pixabay
10. Mary Magdalene
In Luke 8:2, we read that Jesus delivered Mary Magdalene from seven demons, and that she went on to follow Him faithfully. She was among the group of women who bravely remained at the foot of the cross (John 19:25), and one of those who came to the empty tomb early that morning and found that Christ was risen (John 20:1). John 20:10-18 then tells us that after the resurrection, Jesus appeared to her first, commissioning her to go and tell the others.
In the Bible, she is usually mentioned first in a list of names, possibly meaning that she was a leader among those who followed Christ. Mary Magdalene’s life was one of loyalty, courage, and strength. She was a faithful servant of the Lord’s and continued sharing the truth and power of Christ after He had risen. She reminds us of this truth to encourage us in our own times of darkness: God often chooses to work most powerfully through those who have experienced great difficulty and brokenness and in those who have experienced His healing and grace.
May God help us to live with such strength and grace. May He inspire us to teach our daughters and those we love about the power of His love and light shining in us and through us. Just like these women, our life journeys are unique, but we all have the opportunity to make a difference in this world for the cause of Christ.
Thank you for the gift and example of these courageous Biblical women to remind us who we are in You. You have redeemed us, you have set us free, you have given us your great love and mercy. Fill us afresh with your Spirit and wisdom today. Give us faith over fear, and strength over discouragement, so that we can live mighty for you.
In Jesus’ Name,
Debbie McDaniel is a writer, pastor's wife, mom to three amazing kids (and a lot of pets). Join her each morning on Fresh Day Ahead's Facebook page, for daily encouragement in living strong, free, hope-filled lives. Find her also on Twitter and at her blog www.debbiemcdaniel.com.
Photo Credit: pixabay/tc-perch
Originally published Thursday, 04 April 2019.