Today is International Women’s Day. As we celebrate women all over the world, I would like to reflect on the following question: “What is a woman?”
Let’s take a journey down memory lane to see the many roles women have played and how instrumental they have been throughout the annals of time. In order to contemplate this question, it only makes sense to start at the beginning.
1. Eve, “meaning “life” or “life-giving,” or “mother of all who have life”, was the first woman and mother of the earth, as created by God. Crafted from the rib of man, she is close to a man’s heart. She represents the woman who supports her husband and cares for her children. A woman is a companion and helper. “So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”” (Genesis 2:20-23 NIV)
2. Hannah, meaning “gracious”, “graciousness” or “favor”, prayed continually and consistently for a son and promised God that she would give her son back to Him if he answered her prayer. She represents the barren woman. A woman is a mother. “And the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.” (Genesis 2:21 NIV)
3. Deborah was the only female judge named in the Bible. She was courageous, wise and led by God. Deborah represents the woman who has been called to lead others. A woman is a leader. “Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading[a] Israel at that time. She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided.” (Judges 4:4-5 NIV)
4. Rahab, meaning “insolence”, “fierceness”, “broad” or “spaciousness”, was a harlot who sacrificed her life to hide Jewish spies who were sent by Joshua to scout out the land. Her sacrifice demonstrates the faith she had in a God she had only heard of. She represents the woman who feels unworthy of God’s love based on her past decisions and behaviors. A woman is willing to sacrifice for her family. “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.” (Joshua 2:12-13 NIV)
5. Ruth, meaning “lovely friend”, was a widow at a young age who vowed to remain with her mother-in-law. In remaining faithful to her mother-in-law and her God, she was introduced to her new husband. She represents the widowed woman. A woman is a faithful friend. “But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. 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)
6. Mary, meaning “wise woman”, was the mother of Jesus. She was chosen by God at a young age to bare the Savior of the world. While she was woman of few words, she carried a great responsibility. She represents the woman who does’t shy away from responsibility. A woman is responsible. “But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. (Luke 1:30-31 & 38 NIV)
7. Martha, meaning “lady of the house” & Mary, meaning “wise woman” or “lady” were sisters. Very different in their demeanor, they were both good friends of Jesus. Martha kept herself busy “working” for the Lord, while Mary keep herself busy at His feet. Martha represents the woman who is always moving and working. Mary represents the woman who is able to take time to enjoy the ones most important to her. A woman is devoted. “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42 NIV)
Women play many roles and are multifaceted. We bring great value to the world we live in. Regardless of our background, experience, position or role our contributions are endless. I celebrate all women today and the significant role we play!
Until next time-
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” (Proverbs 31:30-31 NIV)