But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
1 Peter 5:10 (NKJV)
Every day I get a glimpse of her. Some days I can see her from sunup to sundown – from the time my children wake up until my weary hands wash the last of the dinner dishes. Other days, she is only visible for a fleeting moment and dissipates like a mirage – her image a refreshing oasis in the dessert of an ever-growing to-do list.
This woman, thirty maybe forty years old. Who really knows since she wears youthfulness like a favorite perfume and her eyes dance so merrily at the sight of her loved ones. Her demeanor ever beckoning to others to come, sit, unburden their heart or share a meal. Her husband seems to be a special kind of lucky (he would say blessed). Their home, a refuge from the millions of unnerving tasks that work requires. He seems to only take a full breath when he walks into their home. A smile on his lips as his wife welcomes him with open arms and unconcealed adoration. Her day was busy too, but she is never to busy to share this long awaited moment with her best friend and lover.
Her children arise and called her blessed. They may not know the words but their never ceasing insistence on being in her presence around the clock speaks volume of their love. Tiny, dirty hands pull at her constantly – her eyes may speak of the weariness of it all but her voice only speaks love, wisdom and discipline to little hearts that record it all, incubating everything she says, teaches and is – to be hatched in their adolescence, adulthood or perhaps when they become parents as well. She wears wisdom like a queen would wear a crown – regally, visibly and consistently. Should she be caught unawares without it, quickly she repents and makes her adornment complete.
Her meekness is strength, restrained. Genuine, sincere and born out of fortitude rather than fear or inadequacy. She loves without hypocrisy. Slow to anger but rich in compassion, mirroring the God she proclaims. Adaptable and capable, having learned to be full and to be hungry. Steadfast in hope and unrelenting in her prayers. She is generous with her tears as well as her laughter.
Her work ethic speaks for itself. Integrity is her calling card. She willingly works with her hand and curiously passes on nourishment until each project is finished – perhaps food is only a reward for a hard day’s work.
From her profits, she blesses her household. The heart of her husband safely trusts in her. She is a safe place for his affection. There is no worry of possible betrayal because in conduct and in character, she is as a secret garden, walled up, guarded and solely for his enjoyment. She does him good, never evil.
When I see her, my heart rejoices and I bless God for His creation. I know she is God’s perfect workmanship. His grace is apparent all over her life. Her very existence testifies of His goodness and her good works make me glorify my Father in Heaven.
I saw her when I gave my life to Christ. I saw her when my father gave me away to become a wife. I see her when I pray for my children. I see her when submission is a joy rather than a challenge. I see her when my husband speaks his appreciation of my contribution to our house. I see her most often when I pray – for my children, for my husband, for my sisters and for the Church. There is a vision in my head – a picture of the woman God desires for me to be in my household and in my marriage. As I conform to the image of Christ through His Word, through obedience to the Holy Spirit, and through prayer, that woman becomes more of a reality. I may never see myself completely transformed into this woman, but I know that I can be all that Christ intends me to be if I would only obey.
Becoming what Christ intends is going to require suffering. This I know because my flesh does not like the sacrifices it would take to look more like Jesus. My body craves for sleep and my eyes burn with exhaustion at five o’clock in the morning when the Lord is calling me to pray. Many days, the desire for sleep deafens my ears. But there are days when the spirit is infinitely more insistent of its willingness than the flesh of its weakness and I am able to pray, even if only for 10 minutes. If denying myself, biting my tongue, giving myself to prayer rather than to vengeance and submitting my will in obedience rather than doing what my feelings dictate all feels like suffering, it is a pain that I joyfully welcome. Because I look forward to the time when God Himself will perfect, strengthen, establish and settle me.